November 18, 2004

Powerful Debate

I was sent by work tonight to cover a debate on the merits of offshore-outsourcing between representatives of two distinguished political magazines- The Nation and The Economist- that I don’t read. Still, very interesting; I can’t quote anyone directly because I’ll be writing a real story later, but I can share a few observations from the evening:

-The event was held at a Central Park West-based institution known as the New York Society for Ethical Culture. The NYSEC is known for their liberal politics- which, as usual at these things, led to a majority-leftist crowd- as well as their long-running feud with their Fifth Avenue-based counterpart, the New York Society Against Ethical Culture.

- There were actually some conservatives in the room, believe it or not, although when the moderator, local radio host Brian Lehrer, asked (by show of hands) how much of the audience believed that Bush stole the election in Ohio, about two-thirds of the hands in the auditorium went up.

- It was quite a commentary on New York’s political spectrum that this liberal vs. conservative debate was held between two supposedly diametrically opposed political magazines who nonetheless both endorsed John Kerry for president. But still, huge flags representing each magazine were displayed behind the panel; the Nation’s was blue, and Economist’s was red.

- The panelists on the Economist side were the wonderfully named Clive Crook, and Ben Edwards; the Nation was represented by activist Lori Wallach and longtime Rolling Stone National Affairs Editor William Greider. It’s worth noting that Greider’s resemblance to “The X-Files”’ Cigarette Smoking Man is so uncanny as to be almost unavoidable (he supports outsourcing- to the aliens!) Although isn’t being National Affairs Editor of Rolling Stone sort of like being the Hip-Hop Correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly?

- As pointed out to me by my Nation-reading co-worker, the gentleman seated directly in front of me was none other than Victor Navasky, who is editorial director and publisher of the magazine. I’d brought with me as reading material one of Christopher Hitchens’ books, though I sort of kept it hidden once I knew Hitch’s estranged former boss was right close by.

- One of the panelists talked about Bush economic adviser Gregory Mankiw’s infamous declaration earlier this year that “outsourcing is good,” yet no one pointed out the wonderful factoid that Mankiw had, at Harvard, served as a professor and thesis adviser for Kerry’s top economic adviser.

- When one of the Economist panelists mentioned his generally conservative magazine’s opposition to President Bush on issues of free trade- specifically, Bush's imposition of steel tariffs and increases of farm subsidies- most of the audience applauded. Not because they agreed with the position or opposed steel tariffs or farm subsidies- but rather, just because they’re that conditioned to cheer Bush-bashing of any kind.

- One of the panelists sarcastically said something along the lines of “people in India have more jobs? Mazel tov!” I love when gentiles casually use Yiddish (especially when it’s “schlep” or “schtupp”). Even Al Michaels, on “Monday Night Football” the other night, narrated an instant-reply call by pointing out that a player’s “touchas” had crossed the plane of the goal-line.

- An audience question asked if New York’s financial services industry has been affected at all by the outsourcing craze. Yea, Wall Street’s been outsourcing all right- to New Jersey.

- And finally, in an entire evening of discussion about outsourcing involving a panel of experts, there was not one single mention of goo-backs.

Posted by Stephen Silver at November 18, 2004 03:31 AM

I thought the Economist was more of a UK-based magazine rather than a US one. Either way, it is very much the opposite of the nation (which I've only flipped through a few times)

Posted by: jaws at November 18, 2004 03:36 PM
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