The Coming World Government

Summaries of what's in Time, Newsweek, etc.
Jan. 7 2000 9:30 PM

The Coming World Government

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New Republic, Jan. 17

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The cover story celebrates the coming of world government. Political globalization is catching up to economic globalization, as evidenced by the multinational WTO protests in Seattle. The new debate isn't over whether to have world government but over what type of world government we should have. A single planetary authority is unlikely; instead, institutions such as the WTO will mediate international disputes and weaken national sovereignty. An essay blames the media's ignorance of technology for its Y2K doomsaying: "Maybe newspapers should hire a few more nerds."

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Economist, Jan. 8

A column outlines the dangers of the Alan Greenspan cult. The blind worship of the fabulous Fed chairman, who was just nominated for another term, means that: 1) if he does make a mistake it will be terribly magnified; and 2) investors are boosting stock prices to absurd levels because they are relying on Greenspan to tell them when they've gone too far. A piece whacks Britain's much-vaunted millennium celebration as "low farce." The giant Ferris wheel didn't work, the "river of fire" was a dud, and the Millennium Dome is disappointing. The cover editorial echoes the widespread opinion that Vladimir Putin's career as spy and bully bode ill for his presidency. (For Slate's analysis of how Putin has tried to burnish his image, see William Saletan's "Frame Game.")

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New York Times Magazine, Jan. 9

The cover story marvels at the placebo effect and wonders whether we should allow doctors to prescribe placebos. Sugar pills work in 35 percent to 75 percent of patients, and fake surgery can improve health as much as real surgery. The real lesson of the placebo effect: When doctors are attentive, confident, and comforting, patients feel better--often regardless of how they are treated. Placebos could be a bridge between the cold efficiency of modern medicine and the unscientific comforts of alternative therapies. An essay contends that the flat tax will become a 21st-century cause because we live in a "one-click world." Americans want simplicity, even if the price is some unfairness. An actress who has played in the traveling cast of Cats for 10 years (!) is interviewed. She doesn't like cats.

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Time, Jan. 1, and Newsweek, Jan. 10

Very similar millennium commemoratives. Time's cover shot is Times Square; Newsweek's is the Eiffel Tower. Both run gobs of photos of celebrations around the world. Here is Time's. Both cheer the absence of terrorism and computer catastrophe. Time's cover wrap-up mentions the most peculiar New Year's party: a New York event where the Internet millionaire host tried "to coordinate six fornicating couples into simultaneous orgasms at midnight." Newsweek says that minor Y2K inconveniences may pile up in the coming months, especially among small businesses. It also warns that many computers may crash on Feb. 29, a peculiar leap day. (Usually, years that end in "00" are not leap years, but every 400 years, they are. Got it?)

A Newsweek package on the $2.5 billion self-help industry says that female baby boomers are its leading customers. A social stigma is still attached to most self-help programs: Stephen "Seven Habits" Covey is the only guru who has won mainstream respectability. Time's Boris Yeltsin article reveals that Kremlin strategists had been plotting his resignation for nearly a year to ensure the election of a loyal successor. Acting President Vladimir Putin is "more realist than ideologue." The former KGB agent realizes corruption threatens Russia's economy, and unlike Yeltsin, he is focused on his presidential duties. In a Time remembrance, Bill Clinton claims Yeltsin "earned the right to be called the Father of Russian Democracy."

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The New Yorker, Jan. 10

A book review criticizes the new liberal wisdom that children will be scarred for life if their first three years aren't stimulating. Kids are extremely resilient, and their emotional and intellectual development can be normal even if their early childhoods are distressed. Only children who suffer the most severe deprivation are permanently damaged. A piece lionizes Ed McBain (real name: Evan Hunter), America's first great cop novelist. For 40 years, McBain has been a lively and gritty chronicler of New York City life and helped inspire TV cop shows such as Homicide, NYPD Blue, and Hill Street Blues.

Eve Gerber is a Slateeditorial assistant.

David Plotz is the CEO of Atlas Obscura and host of the Slate Political Gabfest.

Chris Suellentrop is the deputy editor for blogs at Yahoo News and a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine. He has reviewed video games for Slate, Rolling Stone, and NewYorker.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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