Thursday, September 17, 2009

Kinda Annoyed

Here is Obama's Rosh Hashana message:

Here is his Nowruz message:

I just don't appreciate that he uses the same tone to address the (unfortunate) Palestinian problem as the Iranian dictatorship. As if I am not perfectly aware of the suffering that the Palestinians endure. I just don't believe that if only we, the Jewish people, looked back on our cherished heritage* and our outspoken condemnation of oppression that somehow the Palestinian problem would be solved. It takes two to tango. Harumph.

* I think it is possible that the first Jewish intellectual to give the line from Yishaya "or lagoyim" discursive currency was Jesus. See Matt. 5.14 "You are a light unto the world. A city built on a hill." I find it weird when people quote that line as distinctively Jewish.

Monday, September 14, 2009


Why do Republicans not trust government to promote social welfare, but defer to the government on matters of security and law & order? Why do Democrats trust government to promote social welfare, but mistrustful of the government on matters of security and law & order?

Security and order is a matter of trust. There exists a local power differential and the body on the low end must trust that the superior will not take advantage of its position. The police officer can pull me over, rip me from my car, beat me like a nag, and arrest me for resisting arrest. It is going to be difficult for me to make a sufficiently persuasive claim to seek recompense--the burden is on me. I just have to trust the officer and the government in turn. Now you might have a good story as to why that trust is warranted (bureaucrats want to retain power, elected officials don't want to lose office, the gov't primary role is to maintain security, not meddling in health care), but we can talk about trust in that context.

Health care, however, is not an issue of trust. The government might screw up, because that is what big bureaucracies are wont to do, but it is not a failure of trust, it is a feature of institutional design. That is why I find it so odd that the language of trust is bandied about regarding health care, it just seems out of place.