Five Best Thursday Columns

The Atlantic

Al Cardenas in Politico on creating an immigrant-friendly GOP Elections are only going to get worse for Republicans unless they start appealing to minorities, and American Conservative Union chairman Al Cardenas argues that conservatives should embrace some of the effects of sweeping immigration reform. Cardenas writes that we can't go on "ignoring our shrinking population, the fact that almost 5 percent of our current work force consists of unauthorized immigrants, and the shifting demographics that are taking place regardless of what actions, if any, we take on immigration reform." And those predicting a conservative backlash to GOP participation in immigration reform should look to history, he argues. "The truth is that no one can accurately predict the predilections and voting patterns of our future citizens. Instead, we should focus on supporting lasting immigration reform because it is the right thing to do and the status quo is far worse. The future of our national security, economy, and our children depend on it."

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Ezra Klein in Bloomberg View on disingenuous GOP rebranding But if the Republicans do pick up the ball on immigration, Ezra Klein will be looking for action more than listening to rhetoric. Even though the conservative movement has distanced itself from voices like Sarah Palin and Dick Morris, Klein isn't so sure their rebranding efforts have any substance. "The Republican Party isn’t reinventing itself so much as reverting to its previous form. There’s little evidence of a rethinking of core Republican policy ideas," Klein writes, able only to pinpoint some warming to immigration reform and vague talk of tax reform as concrete steps away from previous platforms. "That’s the problem with the Republican establishment reasserting control. They’re still the establishment."

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Daniel Gross in The Daily Beast on the new Interior Secretary Sally Jewell—President Obama's nominee to replace Ken Salazar as Interior Secretary—has been the CEO of a major company (REI) and once worked in the oil industry. So tree-hugging liberals should be afraid of corporate interests and fossil fuel allegiances tainting this environmental office, right? Not at all, argues Daniel Gross. "[Jewell] is much closer to a community organizer than a hard-charging boss," he writes, noting that REI is actually a cooperatively owned business closely aligned with its outdoor enthusiast customers. "Jewell is far more interested in conservation than production. And environmentalists, who have been hard on Obama for his tentative efforts to deal with climate change, are likely to be pleased by her appointment ... We’ve come a long way from 'Drill, baby, drill.'"

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Adam Davidson in The New York Times on money buying happiness Can economists quantify happiness, calculating a GDH just like they do with GDP? Angus Deaton, a Princeton economist, is one of the many who have been trying—and after looking at this body of work, Adam Davidson notes interesting links between money and contentment. "Broadly speaking, the data now indicate that as people get richer, they report getting happier too," he writes, noting that the correlation gets complicated once you focus on particulars, but that in large terms the trend holds true. Except, of course, in that one country that so cherishes its exceptionalism. "The U.S. is nearly three times as rich today as it was in 1973 ... According to nearly every survey, though, Americans are not at all happier than we were back then." 

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Bryan Appleyard in New Statesman on the world's entitled elites Who knows whether or not their happier than the rest of us, but the global super-rich certainly have a different relationship with the law, argues Bryan Appleyard. "The new entitled live in a mirror-lined bubble. Also a legally protected one," he writes. "They are protected in Britain by libel laws and a tax system that, as John Lanchester points out, not only shields our own entitled from scrutiny but also encourages equally entitled foreigners to come here." And he argues that thanks to tax havens pocketed around the globe, progressive taxation can't even reign in the excess. "Taxation cannot change this, as the French are learning ... What would definitely change the climate of entitlement would be a dismantling of its psychological basis, the mindset that has created a super-rich class with no allegiance, obligation or connection to wider society."

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