How to (Not) Read ‘The Economist’

Economist cover Bet you can't guess what the world's most profitable magazine is. It's The Economist, London's dry yet essential highbrow standard bearer of news, analysis, and opinion. And with even celebrity journalism a non-starter in the era of Gawker and TMZ, it's become the magazine American newsweeklies such as Time and Newsweek most aspire to emulate. It costs about $100 a year to subscribe to The Economist, but who's got that kind of money to throw around on print these days? I used to be a proud subscriber, though, and I still would be if I only had the time to read the cleanly written and meticulously researched thing every week.

Fortunately, I don't have to anymore. Why? Because Tucker Stone is doing my reading for me in his semiregular "Economist Versus Idiot" synopses in The Factual Opinion, a blog devoted mostly to snarky reviews of comics, music, TV, and film. Stone is smart enough, though, to dispense with the snark in the face of The Economist's authority and gravitas, and ends up mainly making fun of himself and his ignorant American countrymen. His capsule rewrites of Economist articles are pithy and conversational. He treats the magazine as though it were his favorite band and reviews its performance with knowing respect. While even his summaries are so long I usually don't make it all the way it through, they're still a lot easier to slam back than the mag itself, which in spite of everything I would actually strongly encourage you to read. Until you do, here's an example of Stone's work:

The World Last Week

-Everybody figured that India's general election would end up with another coalition of disagreement, but that isn't the way it went down at all. The Congress party smoked the competition, and the guys and gals who write the Economist broke their legs falling over each other in the race to call that awesome.

-According to the United Nations, Pakistan's ongoing struggle with the Taliban has forced 1.5 million people to leave their homes in hopes of not getting killed. Pleasant, that.

-So, if a British lawyer gets convicted of perjury over lies he told to "protect" Silvio Berlusconi, doesn't that meant that the same Italian courts now have evidence against Berlusconi as well? Oh wait, that's why Berlusconi changed the law to protect Italian prime ministers last year, isn't it.

-Hey, just because some report was released that says children have been abused at Irish Catholic institutions on a non-stop basis for sixty years, don't get all worked up. The head of the church said he was "profoundly sorry." I'm pretty sure that Christians are supposed to forgive and forget in cases like these. Isn't that how it works? I can't be sure--i've never physically or sexually abused children for sixty years, so I might be the wrong guy to ask.

-Here's a nice update on the war on drugs: an armed gang released fifty prisoners in Mexico, including some high ranking cartel guys. That whole prohibition thing is working so fucking well.