Jeff Jacoby
Jeff Jacoby
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Pundicity: Informed Opinion and Review

Latest Articles

For Biden, a better way forward on Taiwan

February 21, 2021  •  The Boston Globe

US POLICY toward Taiwan has for decades been an incoherent mess. The time has come to clean it up.

American diplomats have long adhered to the so-called "One China policy," opposing independence for Taiwan and letting it be blackballed from international forums, in deference to Beijing's claim that the island is a renegade Chinese province. Under the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, the United States is committed to providing Taiwan with the arms it needs for defense against a Chinese attack, yet it has never explicitly promised to intervene on Taiwan's behalf should such an attack occur. This lack of clarity has been deliberate — Washington calls it "strategic ambiguity" — but it long ago stopped making sense.

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Don't get hooked on executive orders

February 17, 2021  •  The Boston Globe

When Barack Obama became president in 2009, he moved quickly to overturn many of George W. Bush's policies. During his first 100 days, Obama issued executive orders revoking the Bush administration's limitations on stem cell research, easing marijuana prosecutions, and endorsing a United Nations declaration on gay rights that Bush had declined to sign. Other Obama directives restored support for organizations that provided abortions, loosened restrictions on Cuba, and stopped requiring contractors to notify employees of their right to limit payments to labor unions.

Eight years later, the worm turned.

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The racial decency — and irony — of Rutherford Hayes

February 14, 2021  •  The Boston Globe

WHEN RUTHERFORD B. HAYES died in 1893, tributes to the 19th president poured in from across the political and social spectrum. Among them was a letter from a youthful black scholar doing graduate work in Berlin, studies that were subsidized by the Slater Fund, an endowment created to promote the education of African Americans. Hayes, one of the fund's original trustees, had been impressed by the student and persuaded the other trustees to provide financial support.

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The cruelty of a higher minimum wage

February 10, 2021  •  The Boston Globe

THERE WAS good news and bad news on the minimum-wage front in President Biden's pre-Super Bowl interview with CBS. Under the Senate's rules, he conceded, there is virtually no chance that Democrats' bid to more than double the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour will be included in the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package now making its way through Congress. That was the good news. The bad news was that Biden intends to push for the higher minimum wage as a separate piece of legislation, since "all the economics show that if you do that, the whole economy rises."

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Mark Jacoby, 1925-2021

February 8, 2021  •  Arguable

The tree I sprang from

My first byline in The Boston Globe appeared long before I became a columnist. A letter to the editor I had written was published on Jan. 2, 1986. It was just six sentences long:

I was moved by "The great divide," Alan Lupo's touching column on Dec. 14 about the way we react — and often don't react — to the destitute among us.

Years ago, my father — who knew poverty and hunger at first hand, and who makes a point of giving some money to charity every day — taught me a lesson. After watching him give a few dollars to a panhandler who had no excuse scrounging for handouts, I asked why he gave money to somebody so patently undeserving.

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