Five of the Best

The top five comment pieces from today's papers and the web

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The Independent's Johann Hari explains why state spending should be increased, not cut:

The cut-cut-cut chorus appears not to have heard of what John Maynard Keynes called "the paradox of thrift". In a recession, it is rational for you and I to cut back on our spending. You holiday at home, put any spending plans on ice and save what you can. So it seems instinctively right to expect governments to do the same. But Keynes showed that if governments cut back at the same time as its citizens cut back, the recession gets even worse. Nobody is buying anything; demand collapses. More people are laid off, and the state has to spend even more in the end.

If only Gordon Brown could argue like that.

Paul Krugman writes in the New York Times that the ugly town hall demonstrations against Obama's healthcare reforms reflect cultural and racial prejudice:

That is, the driving force behind the town hall mobs is probably the same cultural and racial anxiety that's behind the "birther" movement, which denies Mr. Obama's citizenship.

He invokes Yeats's The Second Coming to describe the muted state of the American left:

But right now Mr. Obama's backers seem to lack all conviction, perhaps because the prosaic reality of his administration isn't living up to their dreams of transformation. Meanwhile, the angry right is filled with a passionate intensity.

Steve Richards argues in The Independent that neither Harriet Harman nor Peter Mandelson will be the next Labour leader. Of Mandelson he writes:

Personally he has enjoyed the best media ever. All would change if he were to change from king-maker to king-seeker. If Labour loses the election, the focus will be on the next generation even if the party does not have a single credible younger candidate yet.

Earlier this week I explained why Mandelson, an obedient courtier, would wither like a salted snail in power.

Richards also reveals that Gordon Brown was planning to announce during his party conference speech that he was willing to take part in live debates with Cameron.

The Daily Telegraph's Con Coughlin explains how Bill Clinton's failures as president allowed North Korea to achieve full nuclear capability.

The Clinton administration handed over millions of dollars in aid, food, oil and even a nuclear reactor in the hope of persuading the North Koreans to ditch their military programme. They simply took the aid and carried on with nuclear development regardless, so that by 2006 they were able to detonate a device.

Jenni Russell on Comment Is Free eloquently rails against a TUC motion calling for "extremely sexist" high heels to be banned from the workplace.

It's been one of the great mistakes of the left in Britain to confuse equality with sameness, and to think that if we can just eliminate sexual differences, or sexual awareness in the workplace, the world would be a better, happier, more egalitarian place. Well, it's nonsense. People's minds and skills should all be taken seriously, and treated equally, but not at the cost of a sexless uniformity.


George Eaton is senior online editor of the New Statesman.

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