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Today's Links: December 5, 2012

OPINION

KENNETH ROGOFF: "Innovation Crisis or Financial Crisis?"
"Recently, a few writers, including internet entrepreneur Peter Thiel and political activist and former world chess champion Garry Kasparov, have espoused a fairly radical interpretation of the slowdown. In a forthcoming book, they argue that the collapse of advanced-country growth is not merely a result of the financial crisis; at its root, they argue, these countries’ weakness reflects secular stagnation in technology and innovation. As such, they are unlikely to see any sustained pickup in productivity growth without radical changes in innovation policy. Economist Robert Gordon takes this idea even further. He argues that the period of rapid technological progress that followed the Industrial Revolution may prove to be a 250-year exception to the rule of stagnation in human history."

ERIKA & NICHOLAS CHRISTAKIS: "Whither Goes Free Speech at Harvard?"
"Is a satirical flyer distributed a few days ago at Harvard with joking references to anti-semitism, 'coloreds,' and sexual assault worth defending? We think so. The protection of free speech is meaningless if what we really mean is 'free speech we find appropriate.' When we prohibit or punish certain kinds of statements, even vile ones, then we are protecting speech only insofar as we agree with it or it does not offend us. This is not only a logically inconsistent position, but it is also one that harms our students."

TIM CARNEY: "Regulations protect entrenched businesses — and the New York Times is ON IT"
"The Gray Lady is on a streak of good articles noting how big government accrues to the benefit of the special interests. After two days of in-depth pieces on state-level subsidies, the Times comes out with an item on how local governments are trying to protect their cabbie industry from the threat of consumer choice."

NEWS

TRANSPORTATION - Motorists File Class-Action Lawsuit Against NYC Over Red-Light Cameras
"Red-light cameras are gaining popularity across the country. Now, New York City is being sued after it was accused of rigging the lights to catch more drivers and write more tickets."

HISTORY - A Patriotic Song of the Revolutionary War, Hidden in a Schoolboy's Book
"Young John Barstow must have found it difficult to concentrate on sums with the American Revolution underway. His math exercise book, held at the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History in New York, contains math problems, conversion tables, and other study aids. Sandwiched between these pages is a blank leaf filled with Barstow’s transcription of what must have been a popular patriotic song."

GERMANY - Women, immigrants on the rise in Merkel's conservative makeover
"Aygul Ozkan, the daughter of a Turkish tailor, is the new face of Germany's ruling conservatives. Her election to the leadership board of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) represents a facelift for a party that has for decades been dominated by white, Christian, predominantly male politicians."