Gregg Easterbrook

Only the Koreans can end their conflict

November 23, 2010

KOREA/

For a generation, the arc of international events has been mainly positive — the Cold War concluded, the Germanys reunited, apartheid is over. But a few conflicts refuse to end, and one became worse today as North Korea and South Korea exchanged artillery fire, killing two South Korean soldiers. It’s not yet clear how the incident began. Presumably the United States, which has substantial forces in South Korea, Japan and Guam, is at the moment watching closely.

One of the world’s most significant documents

November 17, 2010

This morning (Wednesday, November 17) I am in Washington moderating the launch of the United Nations Human Development Report 2010, one of the world’s significant documents. Most of what we hear on the news is a noisy blur of specifics even the participants can’t remember a week later. This annual report details The Big Picture: the economic, social, educational, political and health care situations of the world’s nations. The report is roughly 10,000 times more important than the Wall Street data, political polls and sports stats we obsess over.

Why a Republican House will make Obama a better president

November 11, 2010

CLINTON/

If you are a Barack Obama supporter — as I am — you should be glad the House of Representatives is changing to Republican. For this is likely to make Obama a better president.

China should not be our next whipping boy

October 28, 2010

CHINA

Here we go again.

With a sort-of withdrawal from Iraq in progress, and a scheduled withdrawal from Afghanistan approaching, Washington needs a fresh adversary. How about China?

Ethanol a “stealth tax” on drivers

October 20, 2010

Substituting ethanol for petroleum – what could be wrong with that? A lot, it turns out, including a cynical “stealth tax” on drivers.

The skinny on Social Security benefits

October 14, 2010

On Friday, the Social Security Administration is expected to announce that for the second consecutive year, there will be no Social Security cost-of-living increase. That makes perfect sense, since the cost of living is not rising. But this being an election year, there may be intense political demand for a special bonus to retirees, like the $250 bonus checks issued — regardless of need — to all senior citizens in 2009.

Gay suicides and media hype

October 7, 2010

MILITARY-GAYS/

The story of Tyler Clementi brings tears to the eyes. The Rutgers University freshman jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge after a video of him having sex with a man was posted on the Internet, probably by a classmate. Not only did a promising young life end — it’s 2010, and even college students still exhibit malicious anti-gay bias.

Many toxic waste threats are history but Superfund lives on

September 29, 2010

The Obama Administration wants a new corporate tax to support the Superfund program, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi recently said she backs the idea. Monday, New York City received a major Superfund designation. San Francisco is expected to receive one soon.

Death of the middle class? Think again

September 23, 2010

Elizabeth Warren, just appointed a special advisor to President Barack Obama for consumer protection, says we are witnessing the “death of the middle class.” Slate’s Timothy Noah, a terrific writer and thinker, believes the rich are running away with the country. This new Census Bureau report, showing a nearly 5 percent decline in middle-class household income, received banner-headline treatment, with news stories suggesting typical people are being clobbered.

On cars and climate change

September 17, 2010

POINTS THAT DIDN’T QUITE MAKE THE MAIN COLUMN:

Cars:
For months, claims that Toyotas could not be stopped from accelerating, putting millions of drivers and passengers in danger, were a front-page and prominent evening-news item. Lots of exaggerated stories appeared, all skipping experience with a similar scare two decades ago about Audis, which ultimately showed that pressing the gas pedal instead of the brake was the real problem.