Times Square on the Tigris

Rudy Giuliani and Newt Gingrich -- potential rivals for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination -- teamed up for an op-ed today in which they argue there's hope for Baghdad in the "workfare" reform Rudy brought to New York City as mayor. A snippet:

"There are many lessons from the successful welfare reforms in New York City that can be readily applied in Iraq. In the early 1990s, New York City suffered an average of 2,000 murders a year while more than 1.1 million people -- one out of every seven New Yorkers -- were unemployed and on welfare. Too many neighborhoods were pervaded by a sense of hopelessness that came from a combination of high crime, high unemployment and despair. 'Workfare' proved an excellent method to change this destructive decades-long paradigm. It required able-bodied welfare recipients to work 20 hours a week in exchange for their benefits. In the process, we reasserted the value of the social contract, which says that for every right there is a responsibility, for every benefit an obligation."

Contrast this with George Will's observation today that "Shiites are not torturing Sunnis with electric drills and Sunnis are not beheading Shiites because both sides are suffering the ennui of the unemployed. For Iraqis, ennui is a utopian aspiration."