The Internet’s big thinkers shared their perspectives on the issues of the week — from Yahoo’s work-from-home ban to the sequestration. Here are some of the opinions that got us thinking. Did we miss one? Share the “ideas” that caught your attention this week in the comment section.
“15 Budget Ideas That Are Better Than Sequester Plan” on Bloomberg View
Who: Ezra Klein, columnist and policy analyst for MSNBC
The Idea: Sequestration isn’t proof that the government is broken, says Klein. It’s proof that it’s dumb. While sequestration is in itself a compromise born in 2011, there are much better ideas out there on how to fix the U.S. budget, many of which come from the Hamilton Project at MIT. From a plan to transition Medicare to a “bundled payment” system to cutting fossil fuel subsidies from the tax code and converting some tax deductions to 15%, every one of the project’s 15 ideas is better than the manufactured crises Washington is coming up with.
Sum-it-Up Quote: “Each [Hamilton Project idea] is an attempt to formulate intelligent policy that will make the country better as it makes the deficit smaller. That’s a far cry from sequestration — and the last few years of policy making generally — in which Washington appears to have resigned itself to deficit reduction of almost exclusively bad, dumb ideas.”
(MORE: How Not to Compromise)
“Science and Sensibility” in the New York Times
Who: Timothy Egan, author and columnist
The Idea: On Thursday, the Violence Against Women Act passed in the House of Representatives after a year-and-a-half delay, giving Native American tribes the ability to prosecute white men who rape and abuse Indian women. While many Republican representatives still voted against the Act, Egan hopes that its passage — along with other sudden movement on so-called “liberal” issues by prominent Republicans — means that the GOP is coming to their senses and realizing that the world around them is changing, and their perspectives need to change with it.
Sum-it-up Quote: “You see with a single vote some evidence of how the world changes — reason triumphing over the half-truths that bind a political party together, one crazy idea at a time. For the issueless, leaderless Republicans, those wandering in the wilderness while wondering why everything seems to be changing so quickly, a political spring could be ahead.”
Who: Jeff Anderson, attorney who has represented survivors of sexual abuse by clergy and other authority figures
The Idea: Pope Benedict failed to implement the necessary changes to protect children from abuse within the Catholic Church. But Anderson offers seven concrete measures that the next pope can implement to stop the abuse and regain the trust of Catholics around the world. From disclosing the names of the abusers and reports that they’ve kept secret to retaining outside professionals to investigate incidences of abuse and train the church on child protection procedures, Anderson says this plan can “move the Roman Catholic Church forward from the 16th Century to the 21st.” However, he hasn’t gotten his hopes up. “If past is prologue, the Vatican will continue to operate above the law in denial, minimization and blame.”
Sum-it-up Quote: “To move forward, the Roman Catholic Church and its leader, the next pope, ultimately must handle child sexual abuse among its clergy with transparency and honesty, rather than internally and secretly. Then and only then will the church and its leader regain any moral authority.”
(MORE: A Papal Benediction)
“The Case Against Working at Home” on Slate
Who: Katie Roiphe, columnist, author and professor at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University
The Idea: That utopian fantasy of working from home isn’t reality, says Roiphe, who works both from her house and an office. She claims that it’s better to separate your work and home lives when possible, because the line between the two is “largely fictional as it is.” In terms of concentration, she says that even people who work from home have to admit “That the comfort and flexibility are counteracted by certain constrictions on the imagination, by a competition of focus, even by the relaxation and familiarity of home.” And while the argument about efficiency seems to be true, it “isn’t the only measure of whether working at home is a good idea.”
Sum-it-up Quote: “‘The work-life balance’ might be best served by keeping work at work. By trying to pursue that tiny sliver of a chance of keeping the office and the thousands of meaningless work details and memos and preoccupations out of your home.”
“A Filibuster Fit for McCarthy” in the Washington Post
Who: Dana Milbank, columnist and author
The Idea: The nomination hearings of newly minted Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was one that “Joe McCarthy would have admired,” says Milbank. While the Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee speak with pride about tarnishing Hagel’s character and confirming him with an “unprecedented level of opposition”, they may have consequentially affected America’s standing overseas, which could prove to be harmful to foreign policy.
Sum-it-up Quote: “[The Republicans who voiced opposition] seemed not to grasp that the extraordinary variable here was not Hagel’s candidacy but their unprecedented level of opposition, directed at a former colleague who had become an Obama supporter.”