One of the decisions faced by the 91-year-old new owner of Newsweek, Sidney Harman, will be what to do about columnist Fareed Zakaria. Leon Wieseltier memorably described him as a "black-tie barometer" and as "the consummate spokesman for the shibboleths of the White House and for the smooth new worldliness, the at-the-highest-levels impatience with democracy and human rights as central objectives of our foreign policy, that now characterize advanced liberal thinking about America's role in the world." Michael Ledeen describes him as "pathetic."
Mr. Zakaria's latest masterpiece is an item headlined "Raise My Taxes, Mr. President!" Like E.J. Dionne Jr. and David Brooks, Mr. Zakaria praises British Prime Minister David Cameron: "Look by contrast at British Prime Minister David Cameron, a genuine fiscal conservative. To deal with his country's deficit, which in structural terms is not so different from America's, he concluded that he would have to raise taxes as well as cut spending."
Mr. Zakaria concludes that the budget must be balanced via tax increases rather than merely spending cuts because, "We have one of the smallest governments among all the rich countries in the world." But that's nonsense, both in absolute terms and in relative terms. As a percentage of GDP, American government is about the size of Canada's and bigger than Australia's. Our military expenditures dwarf those of other rich nations.
Mr. Zakaria has a big fan in Dow Jones's Marketwatch columnist Jon Friedman, who recently gushed, "Zakaria is a symbol of Newsweek's vitality. If he stayed, it would still be considered a serious news and commentary source. But if he left, what would that say? It could tell us, basically, that the magazine must no longer have any kick. If I hoped to become Newsweek's next owner, I'd work overtime to make sure Zakaria wanted to stay in the fold."
Thanks to FutureOfCapitalism reader-participant-community member-content co-creator-watchdog E. for sending the link to the "Raise My Taxes" column by Mr. Zakaria.