Must Read Op-Eds for October 26, 2011

Updated
 

IT’S CONSUMER SPENDING, STUPID  BY JAMES LIVINGSTON
NEW YORK TIMES
A big part of [our] problem is that we doubt the moral worth of consumer culture. Like the abstemious ant who scolds the feckless grasshopper as winter approaches, we think that saving is the right thing to do. Even as we shop with abandon, we feel that if only we could contain our unruly desires, we’d be committing ourselves to a better future. But we’re wrong… We don’t need the traders and the C.E.O.’s and the analysts — the 1 percent — to collect and manage our savings. Instead, we consumers need to save less and spend more in the name of a better future. We don’t need to silence the ant, but we’d better start listening to the grasshopper.

THE FLAT-TAX SWEEPSTAKES  BY EDITORIAL
WALL STREET JOURNAL
All of this is bold enough that it will require an informed and articulate promoter, and the question about Mr. Perry is whether he can make that case better than he has so far been able to defend his Texas record… The good news is that Mr. Perry and most of his competitors are thinking big, with proposals that will reverse the U.S. slide to high-debt, slow-growth stagnation. President Obama wants to portray the economic debate as pro-growth government spenders vs. the austerity of budget cutting. But the real debate is over whether government or the private economy is the main engine of prosperity. The flat tax puts Republicans on the side of private growth and government reform, a potent combination. Perhaps Mr. Perry and his comrades can even coax Mitt Romney to join the party.

THE LIMITS OF MAGICAL THINKING  BY MAUREEN DOWD
NEW YORK TIMES
Certainly, Jobs created what Shakespeare called “the brightest heaven of invention.” But his life sounded like the darkest hell of volatility… He was a control freak, yet when he learned he had a rare form of pancreatic cancer that would respond to surgery, he ignored his wife, doctors and friends and put the surgery off for nine months, trying to heal himself with wacky fruit diets, hydrotherapy, a psychic and expressing his negative feelings. (As though he had to be encouraged.) Addicted to fasting because he felt it produced euphoria and ecstasy, he refused to eat when he needed protein to fight his cancer. The Da Vinci of Apple could be self-aware. “I know that living with me,” he told Isaacson as he was dying, “was not a bowl of cherries.”

 

BARACK KISSINGER OBAMA  BY THOMAS FRIEDMAN
NEW YORK TIMES
[Obama] was naïve about how much his star power, or that of his secretary of state, would get others to swoon in behind us. But Obama’s frustrations in bagging a big, nonmilitary foreign policy achievement are rooted in a much broader structural problem - one that also explains why we have not produced a history-changing secretary of state since the cold war titans Henry Kissinger, George Shultz and James Baker. The reason: the world has gotten messier and America has lost leverage. When Kissinger was negotiating in the Middle East in the 1970s, he had to persuade just three people to make a deal: Hafez al-Assad; an Egyptian pharaoh, Anwar Sadat; and an Israeli prime minister with an overwhelming majority, Golda Meir. To make history, Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, by contrast, need to extract a deal from a crumbling Syrian regime, a crumbled Egyptian regime, a fractious and weak Israeli coalition and a Palestinian movement broken into two parts.

Who would have predicted it? Barack Obama has turned out to be so much more adept at implementing George W. Bush’s foreign policy than Bush was, but he is less adept at implementing his own. The reasons, though, are obvious… It is a serious, focused combination of global intelligence coordination, targeted killing of known terrorists and limited interventions… So let’s be clear: Up to now, as a commander in chief in the war on terrorism, Obama and his national security team have been so much smarter, tougher and cost-efficient in keeping the country safe than the “adults” they replaced. It isn’t even close, which is why the G.O.P.’s elders have such a hard time admitting it.

POLITICAL POKE-FEST  BY RUTH MARCUS
WASHINGTON POST
Is this a presidential campaign or a middle-school playground? I’ll show you mine if you show me yours? By the way, if I had Perry’s grades, I wouldn’t be mentioning them. Certainly not if I were running against a former president of the Harvard Law Review… But then Perry, as is his style, let on what this was really about… “It’s fun to poke at him a little bit and say, ‘Hey, how about, let’s see your grades and your birth certificate.’ ”… Now we have Perry, who has a decent if fading shot at the Republican presidential nomination, openly practicing politics as poke-fest. The point isn’t to debate whose solutions are best for America — it’s to get under the other guy’s skin.

SO MUCH FOR SMALL GOVERNMENT  BY EDITORIAL
NEW YORK TIMES
House Republicans usually claim to be champions of both small government and states’ rights, which makes it hypocritical, and downright reckless, that they are obsessed with taking away the authority of states to decide who is allowed to carry a concealed and loaded handgun. On Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee voted 19 to 11 for a measure that would do exactly that. … The measure, pushed by the National Rifle Association, would undermine legitimate states’ rights by nationalizing lenient gun rules most states have rejected for themselves.

 

NETFLIX ISN’T DOOMED  BY HOLMAN JENKINS
WALL STREET JOURNAL
Mr. Hastings was absolutely right to try to get more money out of disk users—money he needs to acquire content for the streaming business. How much content will be enough? That question will yield only to experience and revelations yet to come about who else plays in this market and how they play. The biggest risk today for Netflix may be short-term: Running out of cash and investor confidence even while a winning position is still potentially within its grasp. When content suppliers discover that the future won’t be winner-take-all, they’ll be more willing to support Netflix in its niche by making shows available at a price that works for Netflix.

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Must Read Op-Eds for October 26, 2011

Updated