This Week’s Newsweek

There are four articles of note in the latest Newsweek magazine.

1. I wrote a brief personal piece on Chile. I mention other natural disasters that preceded Chile and conclude:

The anonymity then of death tolls, my lack of proximity, and the fact that I wasn't sending or receiving "Are you OK?" e-mails made it easy to think in broad, analytical strokes. But now I'm thinking about people, places, and details. I'm trying to track down friends I haven't heard from, and I'm afraid of what I might find out. I have images of driving on roads and bridges that are now destroyed. When I saw footage of looters ravaging supermarkets during other disasters, I blindly condemned them; I thought, how could this be all right? Now I'm deeply conflicted watching interviews with old Chilean women emerging from broken supermarkets, dodging tear gas, and shrieking into the camera, "I don't have water, I don't have food—what do you expect me to do?" The lessons I'm learning are not necessarily intellectual or academic; they are about empathy.

A few days after the quake, I ate dinner at my favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurant, just down the street from my apartment. For the first time, my usual waiter initiated a conversation with me. He asked how I was doing and how I was feeling in light of all that had happened. Normally he doesn't bother trying to decipher the broken Spanish of a gringo. But the bond of our shared experience—for the moment, anyway—transcended language barriers. We all know the clichés: common challenges unite uncommon people; humanity knows no borders, etc., etc. But those maxims really do come to life when life itself is at its most tenuous.

2. Jacob Weisberg takes Obama to task for his vague "it's not the size of government that matters, but whether it works" mantra. Size matters.

3. Robert Samuelson wonders when Millennials will wake up and smell the coffee about the dismal economic situation they are inheriting. Will there be a generational revolt against the Baby Boomers who left us holding the bill? I'm thinking of Buckley's Boomsday.

4. The cover piece is about why bad teachers need to be fired from schools. Aka: Teachers unions are as selfish and reckless as ever. Kind of old news by now….

Pick up the issue at newsstands everywhere!

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