Up Front

THE QUESTION: What is your advice for 2010 college grads?

"Don't throw away your Ramen noodle stash." -- Lee Camp, Laughing Liberally

"Hit up places currently hiring: House Ethics Committee, New York state government, and Toyota quality-control department." -- Larry Sabato, UVA

"Work hard, learn new media, and maybe one day Andrew Breitbart can pay you to get arrested for tampering with a senator's phone system." -- Matt Corley, Center for American Progress

***

PARODY by T.A. Frank

"We're really close. ... We're getting to a place where Democrats and Republicans both can get comfortable with this." -- Sen. Bob Corker on forthcoming financial reform

The Bipartisan Comfortable Financial Reform Act of 2010

Key Provisions:

1. If you can't learn to oversee yourselves, you're going to have someone over- seeing you. This is your last warning. We really mean it this time.

2. Whoever has been photocopying his buttocks with Citibank's equipment will be expected to cover the cost of both the copy paper and the toner.

3. Any bundling of 1,000 tranches of option–arm loans collateralized by property deemed by investors to be suboptimal (for example, if the real-estate agents themselves employ terms such as "nightmare," "trash," or "hellhole") must now be initialed by not only your immediate supervisor but also a department head.

4. A lot of you guys on Wall Street spend way too much time at the office. Take a day off more often, recharge in Nantucket, hit the links.

5. Payday loan customers must now be asked, "So are you sure you want all this money I'm about to give you?" Also, payday lenders must disclose online any pecuniary inter- ests in side businesses that threaten to "cut off [debtor's] balls and serve them for dinner."

6. Life's funny. One minute, you're king of the world. The next, you're almost not king of the world. Then it turns out you're king of the world after all, thanks to the taxpayer. Of course, none of this is really a law, except that it sort of is.

7. In retrospect, weren't we all kind of hard on Bernie Madoff?

8. Interest and debt sub-optimization yield swaps must never be leveraged via Zind-Humbrecht municipal brix options. The preceding sentence is meaningless, of course, but it does make it look like we know more than you do.

9. We're angry, by the way. And if you break the law, you might even be prosecuted for it. Such toughness bespeaks our newfound and sincere populist outrage.

10. No more groping the interns. When you make back all the money you lost for everyone -- then, and only then -- may you consider indulging the droit de financier.

***

DIALOGUE: Fat of the Land

Has Michelle Obama gone too far in her crusade against childhood obesity?

Adam Serwer: Michelle Obama has launched a campaign against childhood obesity, which some critics say amounts to "fat shaming." But obviously she's not just saying that being overweight is bad, and I think a bit of pressure from the right people can be effective.

Gabriel Arana: All the shame in the world hasn't made us any thinner. And this "pressure" can also lead to eating disorders.

Adam: That's true; it's not a solution by itself. But some encouragement from family members or other loved ones, as opposed to a society-wide stigma, can help.

Gabriel: But so much obesity is actually related to poverty and access to good food. How much will stigmatizing it help resolve poverty and access issues?

Adam: Well, you can't just be quiet if your loved ones are making themselves sick by gaining too much weight -- you have to help them change. Also, Americans like hearing that they're in complete control of their situations.

Gabriel: I think it's better to shame people -- especially kids -- about what they eat, not how they look. The other day I saw a kid buying a huge bag of Cheetos at the supermarket with his mother standing there. I wanted to yell at the mother for letting her kid eat unhealthy food!

Adam: Maybe the better thing to do is shame the parents.

Gabriel: If we can do it with smoking, I think we can do it with food.

Adam: Smoking is a good example of how shame combined with active government can reduce a really unhealthy habit.

Gabriel: It only works if you moralize the issue. You have to make people think they are immoral for letting their kids eat crap. Do you think Michelle lets Sasha and Malia buy giant bags of Cheetos? Hell no!

Adam: I don't think Sasha and Malia are going to the grocery store. But there's another question: Was it cool for Michelle Obama to mention that a doctor had said something about her kids gaining weight?

Gabriel: I know the intent was to personalize the issue and make herself seem less like a judgmental authority figure, but I sort of don't buy that the Obama family has real problems with weight. I mean, look at the kids' genes. Barack and Michelle are both so tall and skinny.

Adam: It's kind of like celebrities in acne commercials.

Gabriel: Yeah, I am pretty sure Vanessa Williams does not struggle with self-esteem issues stemming from her "acne."

Adam: Well, Obama was a pudgy kid.

Gabriel: You think Obama was pudgy? Maybe you do have shame issues!

Adam: Well, I was a pudgy kid. I'm not now. Maybe that's why I think some positive pressure from loved ones works!

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