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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 Sept. 21, 2011 / 22 Elul, 5771

Tyranny of the Typical

By Jonah Goldberg




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | And now let us recall the "Fable of the Shoes."

In his 1973 "Libertarian Manifesto," the late Murray Rothbard argued that the biggest obstacle in the road out of serfdom was "status quo bias." In society, we're accustomed to rapid change. "New products, new life styles, new ideas are often embraced eagerly." Not so with government. When it comes to police or firefighting or sanitation, government must do those things because that's what government has (allegedly) always done.

"So identified has the State become in the public mind with the provision of these services," Rothbard laments, "that an attack on State financing appears to many people as an attack on the service itself." The libertarian who wants to get the government out of a certain business is "treated in the same way as he would be if the government had, for various reasons, been supplying shoes as a tax financed monopoly from time immemorial."

If everyone had always gotten their shoes from the government, writes Rothbard, the proponent of shoe privatization would be greeted as a kind of lunatic. "How could you?" defenders of the status quo would squeal. "You are opposed to the public, and to poor people, wearing shoes! And who would supply shoes ... if the government got out of the business? Tell us that! Be constructive! It's easy to be negative and smart-alecky about government; but tell us who would supply shoes? Which people? How many shoe stores would be available in each city and town? ... What material would they use? ... Suppose a poor person didn't have the money to buy a pair?"

It's worth keeping this fable in mind as the reaction to last week's CNN-Tea Party Express debate hardens into popular myth. Moderator Wolf Blitzer had asked Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) what should happen if a man refuses to get health insurance and then has a medical crisis. Paul -- a disciple of Rothbard -- explained that freedom is about taking risks. "But, congressman, are you saying that society should just let him die?"

At this point, a few boneheads in the audience shouted "yeah!" and clapped, though liberal pundits and activists imagine they saw an outpouring of support.

Paul calmly replied that he's not in favor of letting the man die. A physician who practiced before Medicare and Medicaid were enacted, Paul noted that hospitals were never in the practice of turning away patients in need. "We've given up on this whole concept that we might take care of ourselves and assume responsibility for ourselves," he observed. "Our neighbors, our friends, our churches would do it."

Both Mitt Romney and Rick Perry have condemned the response from the Paulistas in the audience and endorsed a more active role in government in health care.

Still, it's amazing how quickly status quo bias kicks in. Since the 1960s, it has become a given not only that the government should be more involved in areas like health care and poverty but that these problems remain intractable because the government has not gotten more involved. That's the premise behind so many of the anti-libertarian questions at the GOP debates. Any rejection of the assumption is derided as a right-wing effort to "turn back the clock."

Well, let's do just that for a moment. Charles Murray, my colleague at the American Enterprise Institute, notes that the most remarkable drop in the poverty rate didn't come after President Lyndon B. Johnson declared war on poverty but when President Eisenhower ignored it. Over a mere 12 years, from 1949 to 1961, the poverty rate was cut in half. Similarly the biggest gains in health coverage came when government was less involved in health care, i.e. before the passage of Medicare and Medicaid in 1966. Duke University Professor Christopher Conover notes that in 1940, 90 percent of Americans were uninsured, but by 1960, that number was down to 25 percent.

Blitzer's specific error was to use "society" and "government" as interchangeable terms. People need shoes. But that doesn't require the government to provide shoes for everyone. Similarly, poverty rates should go down. But does that mean it's the government's responsibility?

Maybe the answer is yes. But if it is, the burden of proof that the government can do better than "society" should fall on those who, in effect, want the government to win the future by "investing" in shoes -- rather than on those of us who are open to the idea of turning back the clock.

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