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One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was from a former editor, who told me how to handle topics that were likely to annoy the powerful. “Don’t nibble at their toes,” he told me. “Go for their throat.” That’s why I’m renaming the financial reform bill, known as Dodd-Frank, to what it really is: the Toe-Nibbling Act of 2010.
The reason is that, with a rare exception or two, this 2,000-page bill nibbles at the toes of the problems that brought us the worldwide financial meltdown. It doesn’t go for the throat — its sponsors just pretend that it does.
Yes, Dodd-Frank may be, as President Obama calls it, “the toughest financial reform since the ones we created in the aftermath of the Great Depression.” If that’s the case, the bill shows how narrow our ambitions have become, and how little history we know.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”