By Fareed Zakaria
"The democratic recession we're witnessing has been particularly visible in big 'swing states'—the non-Western countries with the largest populations and economies. Since the late 1990s, democracy has broken down in Russia, Nigeria, Venezuela, the Philippines, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Thailand, and Kenya," writes Larry Diamond in The Atlantic.
"The Philippines is the one relative bright spot in the group today, with a democratically elected president, Benigno Aquino, committed to serious governance reforms. Russia has become not just a venal and despotic state, but a neo-imperial menace to its neighbors as well. Nigeria has reverted back to tragic levels of political kleptocracy and fraud, feeding political polarization, ethnic resentment, citizen alienation, and an increasingly virulent Islamic terrorist movement in the north. The grip of 'Bolivarian socialism' has weakened in Venezuela as governance has deteriorated, violence has exploded, and the opposition has unified behind a liberal challenger first to Hugo Chávez and then to his designated successor. But it will be a pyrrhic victory for democrats if the Chavista regime falls and social order collapses alongside it."
"Modern economics too often seems to devolve into statistics and mathematical formulas, which is only one of the reasons the world will miss Gary Becker, who died on Saturday at age 83," writes the Wall Street Journal. "The Nobel laureate always put the study of humanity first and foremost, applying the principles of his discipline to human capital and how it can best be utilized for the common good."
"Sometimes there are good, practical reasons for sticking with the old thinking, or some of it," argues John Cassidy in the New Yorker. "When Gary Becker, Milton Friedman, and other members of the Chicago School reminded other economists that price systems convey valuable information, and that incentives matter, they were imparting important truths. But they took the laissez-faire arguments too far, and many of their followers went even further, denying the very possibility of market failure and pillorying virtually any form of government intervention as counterproductive."