No Money To Burn
Time and the Economist on how to fix the economic slowdown.
Time, May 26 The cover story surveys what America's next president can do for the economy. The "current slowdown" could be "a harbinger of something bigger: an end to America's 25-year love affair with tax cuts and deregulation." The piece concludes, "The key, really, is to accept what works about the existing U.S. economy and attack what doesn't."… An article investigates (and explains only partially) why The Chronicles of Narnia succeeded at the box office while The Golden Compass failed. Both films were adapted from theologically driven children's books set in fantastical worlds, "did their darnedest to mute elements of religion," and "were of only middling quality."Narnia thrived because of its multigenerational appeal: Parents and grandparents who were fans of C.S. Lewis took their children to see it and "because the range of ages of the four young heroes gave kids from 6 to 16 someone to identify with."
Economist, May 17 In the cover package on international banking, an editorial urges policymakers to avoid overregulating financial systems. "[A] rush to regulate is seldom wise," and current attempts at reform mix "a number of small truths with a big, alluring myth"—that "finance can somehow be stripped of its failures and perfected." Governments should remember: "Bubbles, excess and calamity are part of the package of Western finance. And still it is worth it."… A piece reviews the pitfalls of Western tourism and makes recommendations for developing countries hoping to attract more visitors. The governments of emerging tourist destinations should preserve the natural resources that attract visitors in the first place and remember: "The hotelier who raises a 1,000-room monstrosity will pay for the bricks and mortar, but not for scarring the view or wrecking an historic monument."
Atlantic, June 2008
An essay by an anonymous community-college professor explains why the American ideal of "sending everyone under the sun to college" is a "destructive myth." Though "[t]elling someone that college is not for him seems harsh and classist and British, as though we were sentencing him to a life in the coal mines," some students just aren't qualified to get a degree. America's "sense of college as both a universal right and a need" and the profit many colleges make from adult-education classes have led to tension between students unequipped to pass and the professors who are forced to fail them. … A piece examines how Barack Obama will bring technology to the White House. Among Obama's proposals are a "public, Google-like database of every federal dollar spent," to post "every piece of non-emergency legislation online for five days before he signs it so that Americans can comment," and a White House blog.
New York Times Magazine, May 11 The cover story studies the evolution of John McCain's foreign-policy doctrines: "One way or the other, Iraq will determine this last phase of McCain's political life, as surely as the war in Vietnam defined its beginning." Among the combat veterans in the Senate, the Arizona senator is "the only one who has continued to champion the war in Iraq." Some anonymous "friends and colleagues" suggest that's because he spent "the worst and most costly years" of Vietnam in a Hanoi prison, so he "did not share the disillusioning and morally jarring experiences" of fellow veterans in the jungles. … A piece examines the rebirth of the "Western Democrat." The piece proposes that the ideological shift could be connected to the Bush administration's expansion of energy development on Western federal lands. One Wyoming Republican state representative says, "We have customs and cultures that have developed over a hundred years based on the utilization of multiple renewable resources—agriculture, tourism, wildlife, fisheries." Those traditions are all threatened by opening land to oil and gas drilling.
GQ, June 2008 A profile of Hugh Hefner's 18-year-old son Marston reveals he has "has none of his dad's swagger or mothlike attraction to the bright lights of Hollywood"— he hopes to go to Wesleyan and reads The New Yorker. It also contains a few unbecoming details about the aged Playboy don: He brings a publicist's list of talking points about his son to the interview, and as he leaves, "he rips the kind of fart that one does not even attempt to hide from."… An article interviews the longest-serving inmate in the United States, William Heirens, who has spent nearly 62 years in prison. Heirens was convicted in 1946 of three murders (including one of a 6-year-old girl). Now, though, most of the state's evidence against him has been discredited. After suffering arrest-related head injuries, police questioned him in the hospital with brutal techniques: A doctor gave him a spinal tap without anesthesia, a "male nurse poured ether on his genitals," and he was punched in the stomach by an officer because the DA wanted a confession.
An Atlantic essay penned by an anonymous community-college professor explains why the idea that everyone should go to college is unattainable—and how it's crippling students financially and emotionally.
In the New York Times Magazine, an essay reflects on the blatant misogyny of some anti-Hillary slogans and paraphernalia. It adds nothing new to a topic that has been heavily covered since the start of her campaign.
Best Politics Piece
A piece in the Atlantic speculates on how an Obama presidency would change the government's use of technology and reviews how the Internet has shaped the power of the executive branch.
Best Culture Piece
In Seed, an article explains a new argument against eating meat. Instead of the traditional moral- or religion-based rationalizations, the piece focuses on the economic and environmental reasons for going veggie.
Quote of the Week
From a New Republic piece on Romney's vice-presidential ambitions: "And denying that Mitt Romney would like to be vice president is like pretending the boy who filled the girl's car with 700 roses during prom season just did it because he happens to be a nice guy."
Morgan Smith, a former Slate intern, is a law student in Austin, Texas.