Memo To: R.W. Apple, Jr. The New York Times
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Story Ideas
On May 24th, the NYTimes reported that you have been named Chief Correspondent, a title I already assumed you held de facto. My congratulations to you and to the editors of the Times for giving you this honor and this opportunity. You should now have sufficient standing to do anything you want to do, without worrying as the beat reporters or the columnists do about turf violations or alienation of beat sources. My hope and my recommendation is that you climb as high as you can for perspectives on where our country is today and where we think it might be a generation from now. We have journalists peering as deeply as they can into the next week or the next month, or even hoping to see how considerations of Politics 2000 will effect events next week or next month. Without longer sightlines on a New World Order, I tend to think there is a great deal of wheel-spinning in our public policymaking. There is no architecture in sight or even discussions on the need for architectural designs which we could argue about. It is all ad hoc, as for example Gephardt positioning himself to the left of Gore on MFN and NAFTA, with no serious discussion on where it all might lead or where it should lead. It was nice to see a little piece by Nicholas Kristof on why we shouldn't give up on Africa, but without any imperatives to an American imperium, there will be no traction on Africa.
At home, there has been no attempt at the Times, or anywhere else, to get our society in focus as we drift into a new millennium and its new world order. Pat Buchanan and Ross Perot and Louis Farrakhan reflect the anxieties of those fractions of our society who are not brave enough to face this brave new world. Instead of dismissing them as belly-achers and anti-Semites, they should be understood as representing concerns that are not being addressed. What doth it profit Bill Gates if he gains the world but loses the soul of America? I'm afraid we are outrunning our supply lines in this global conquest, happy enough to make sufficient megabucks to build more prisons to take care of the malcontents being left behind. In his Monday column, "Breaking China," Tom Friedman is frustrated at the strange coalition that is hellbent on going to war with China over human rights, to get our minds off our human problems at home. He thinks American businessmen have to shoulder the burden of beating up Beijing to get them to be better people, and well, okay. But businessmen are really not good for much else than doing business, except for the occasional citizen/diplomat like Perot. All that Beltway energy being assembled to provoke China into mindless adversarial relationship has to be redirected, and maybe the Chief Correspondent of the Times can suggest some roadmaps.
Does it ever cause you to wonder why the issue of capital gains taxation is so contentious? Or have you figured it out? Do you know why Alan Greenspan says its elimination will cause so much growth that federal revenues will increase, and why Bob Rubin says it will cause no economic growth, and revenues will diminish? It's not easy for the Treasury correspondent or the Fed correspondent to get their arms around this, even if they are as good as David Sanger or Rick Stevenson. The answer, though, is central to the path we take toward one kind of capitalism, or the other. Maybe the Chief Correspondent for the NYT will become interested in knowing for sure what this is all about. I hope so.