Cutting Edge: New ideas / Sharp opinions
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In a City Journal piece arguing that mayors are overreacting to the consequences for their cities if the country goes over the "fiscal cliff," Stephen Eide nevertheless writes that for the country as a whole ...
"The federal government's looming 'fiscal cliff'--$607 billion in tax increases and spending cuts, should they take effect as scheduled in January 2013--would impose a fiscal-austerity program more severe than those recently adopted by Spain, Italy and even Greece. Taxes would go up for almost 90 percent of American households, $3,500 on average, and most federal programs would face cutbacks. On the upside, the deficit would be cut in half, an outcome most people claim to support, though they would prefer that it occur more gradually."
The Borowitz Report: "TOLEDO -- An Ohio man's fascination with the so-called 'fiscal cliff'--and his steadfast refusal to talk about anything else--has alienated everyone close to him, former friends of the man say. Harland Dorrinson, a 41-year-old carpet/tile salesman and self-described 'fiscal-cliff nut' has turned himself into a pariah with his inexplicable interest in the most tedious conversation topic ever.
" 'We were all like, "Harland, every time you talk about this, people start to lose consciousness," ' says Carol Foyler, a former friend who has cut ties with Mr. Dorrinson over his fiscal-cliff obsession. 'I don't know what effect the fiscal cliff will have in January, but if you're stuck in a conversation with Harland, the effect is you want to drown yourself.' "
With Foreign Policy's annual list of 100 top global thinkers, David Rothkopf deplores the lack of thinking displayed by political leaders in solving the world's problems. Among those here at home:
"Take U.S. foreign policy. The biggest, most important idea it gave us in the past decade was 'the war on terror.' This was just a terrible concept on every level, an ill-conceived misuse of resources in pursuit of an unachievable goal that did vastly more damage than good. And it came straight from America's policy elites.
"It's hardly an exception. There's a whole pantheon of recent American ideas about the U.S. presence in the world that were seemingly created in a thought-deprived environment. The United States, for example, is still committed to spending more money on defense than the next 17 countries combined -- even though the country is broke and the vast majority of those countries are either America's allies or not a threat at all.
"Indeed, the notion that the United States needs to make defense spending its No. 1 national discretionary spending priority, ahead of things like investing in education, research, infrastructure or other pursuits that actually make the country stronger, is a proven formula for national calamity. (See Paul Kennedy on the decline of empires.)"
James R. Copland in the Washington Times: "The effort to rein in lawsuit abuse in the United States is a bit like the old arcade game 'Whack-a-Mole.' Just when you knock down one abuse, another pops up. This frustrating dynamic is the result of the creativity and political savvy of the class action and mass-tort trial bar. ... It's also the product of America's inverted legal federalism, in which the decisions of one state or local jurisdiction can dictate the terms of national commerce.
"The most recent 'magnet court' pulling in cases from around the country has been Philadelphia's Complex Litigation Center, which has drawn the ignominious distinction of being named the nation's worst 'judicial hellhole' by the American Tort Reform Association two years running.
"Founded in 1992 to deal with the deluge of mass-tort cases in the jurisdiction, the CLC has proved itself most attractive to Trial Lawyers Inc. Over the last five years, the number of active asbestos and pharmaceutical cases in the CLC swelled 143 percent. This increase was not driven by more local injuries -- 87 percent of these plaintiffs had no connection to Philadelphia and less than a third lived inside Pennsylvania. Plaintiffs' lawyers have tried to get their cases heard in Philadelphia because the CLC's 'rocket docket' promises a fast return on case filings, local juries have shown themselves likely to issue outsized verdicts and certain procedural 'innovations' ... drive up expected damages still further."
First Published December 2, 2012 12:00 am