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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review July 12, 2013/ 5 Menachem-Av, 5773

Why Obama's smart-government initiative is dumb

By Jonah Goldberg




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | President Obama wants to make government "smarter." Who could disagree with that? After all, it's unlikely that even the biggest fans of big government believe the way government does what it does is the very best, very smartest way imaginable. Whether you're an anarchist, a Leninist or somewhere in between, everyone can agree that Uncle Sam could afford a few more IQ points.

Let's put it another way. If government is going to do X, it should do X the smartest way possible. On that proposition both Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party agree.

Alas, this momentary flash of consensus disappears before our eyes like a shooting star the moment we ask a related but very different question: Is it smart for the government to do X in the first place? For instance: I think it's a dumb idea to tickle a grizzly bear cub while it's napping on its mother's belly. But if I'm given no choice but to do it, I'll eagerly inquire about what's the smartest way to do a very dumb thing. And if I'm told there is no smart way to do such a dumb thing (which I assume is true), I'll at least ask for tips on the least dumb way to do it.

In announcing his effort to make government smarter -- an idea with a very old pedigree -- Obama invoked two organizations he'd like government to emulate. The first was Google. We'll return to that in a moment.

For years, many of the president's critics, including yours truly, have complained that he's always in campaign mode. Obama is more comfortable whipping up enthusiasm among his fans on college campuses than he is working with his own Cabinet -- never mind members of Congress -- to actually get things done. So it was not without irony that the second exemplar Obama offered for the sorts of best practices the government should adopt was his own presidential campaign. It was "one of the most inclusive and most successful campaigns in American history," he assured an audience largely comprised of his own White House staff.

"We can't take comfort in just being cynical," the president admonished. "We all have a stake in government success -- because the government is us."



This is among the president's favorite formulations, and it gets to the heart of the problem. The government is not "us." The government is -- or is supposed to be -- a collection of agencies that do things taxpayers and voters want done. In short, it is a tool.

Sometimes the smartest way to use a tool is not to use it at all. A garden rake is a useful tool. But it's not useful for every task. No matter how smart the surgeon, there's no smart way for him to use a rake to remove a kidney.

Google is a wonderful company, but Google is as relevant to the tasks of government as a garden rake is to the tasks of a surgeon. Similarly, a presidential campaign is a vital tool for electing a president. It is utterly useless for enforcing contracts or repelling foreign invaders.

One of the advantages both a presidential campaign and a company like Google have is that they can fire incompetent employees quite easily. The federal government has no such luxury. According to a study by USA Today, death is the greatest threat to job security at the EPA, HUD and dozens of other agencies. In 2012, 0.4 percent of civilian employees were fired.

Similarly, when a campaign fails, it goes out of business (at least that was the case until Obama created Organizing for America). When a business fails, it doesn't necessarily go out of business, but it does stop selling its failed products. Coca-Cola stopped selling New Coke when no one wanted to buy it.

The day before the president announced his new initiative, the Washington Post profiled Marvin Horne, a farmer who owes the federal government $650,000 in fines. Why He failed to comply with the Department of Agriculture's national raisin reserve program, created by the Truman administration, which even liberal Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan dubbed "just the world's most outdated law." The program stockpiles raisins in case of an emergency. Such emergencies -- if they ever existed -- ceased being a problem after World War II. It's no surprise, alas, that government programs are as hard to fire as the employees working for them.

Which raises yet another irony. The only people in the world who don't want the government to get much smarter are the ones working for it.

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