Posts for Tag: essays

Stop signs: Two takes. Which do you choose?


And from Verlyn Klinkenborg's editorial in today's Times

Recently, I have been considering the four-way stop. It is, I think, the most successful unit of government in the State of California. It may be the perfect model of participatory democracy, the ideal fusion of “first come, first served” and the golden rule. There are four-way stops elsewhere in the country. But they are ubiquitous in California, and they bring out a civility — let me call it a surprising civility — in drivers here in a state where so much has recently gone so wrong.

What a four-way stop expresses is the equality of the drivers who meet there. It doesn’t matter what you drive. For it to work, no deference is required, no self-denial. Precedence is all that matters, like a water right in Wyoming. Except that at a four-way stop on the streets of Rancho Cucamonga everyone gets to take a turn being first.

I don't suppose that there's really that much distance between these two approaches, but I find the mood and the civility of Klinkenborg's much more appealing.

The Best Essays on Politics 2009, Part I—The Economy | Robert de Neufville | Big Think

In "The End of the Financial World as We Know It" and "How to Repair a Broken Financial World" (The New York Times, January 4), Michael Lewis and David Einhorn argue that the problem wasn't that no one knew the deals that brought down the economy were bad, but that no one had much incentive to put a stop to them. As long as there is no real cost to evaluating risk incorrectly—and as long as we continue to effectively guarantee the performance of financial institutions—financial firms will continue to make unwise bets, knowing they are playing with house money.

The Madoff scandal echoes a deeper absence inside our financial system, which has been undermined not merely by bad behavior but by the lack of checks and balances to discourage it. "Greed" doesn't cut it as a satisfying explanation for the current financial crisis. Greed was necessary but insufficient; in any case we are as likely to eliminate greed from our national character as we are lust and envy. The fixable problem isn't the greed of a few but the misaligned interests of the many.

Another blogger chimes in on the best essays of the year, and this one seems worth looking into. Click through for all the recommendations from this writer at Big Think.

The second part of Robert's picks, and the third.

Editorial - A Long Winter’s Nap -

Breakfast will come late this morning because we were up, most of us, late into the eve of this holiday, savoring how festive the darkness can be. And before breakfast is long over and the first toy has been broken, the first tears dried, dusk will be gathering outside again. That is the unfailing gift of this season — to comfort us with so much nightfall, to gather us together, and hold us close.

Another excellent observation on the seasons from The Times, this one unsigned.