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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

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 Oct. 3, 2005 / 29 Elul, 5765

In the Wake of Katrina, Will Anger at Government Storm Back?

By Jonathan Rauch


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The Bush years have been a miserable time for advocates of smaller government. So why is Fred Smith, the irrepressible president of the anti-government, pro-market Competitive Enterprise Institute, smiling? In a word: Katrina.

Not the hurricane — the political storm. Smith grew up near New Orleans. His brother's home there was swamped. His sister, west of the city, found herself hosting nine refugees. But what cheers Smith is President Bush's now-notorious praise for Michael Brown, the embattled (and now former) head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency: "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job."

"It was almost like he couldn't have possibly said that," Smith said in a recent interview. "If that's what government thought a good job was, then frankly, we'd prefer a worse job done by anyone else."

Since the late 1990s, anger at Big Government has been on the political back burner, but Smith thinks the government's bungling response to Katrina — and its (as he expects) soon-to-be-bungled response to its bungled response — will change that. "You can have good government, or you can have Big Government," Smith says, "but you can't have good Big Government. That argument is growing dramatically, and I think Katrina is going to make it grow more."

On its face, Smith's ebullience seems odd. The Katrina aftermath looks like the next in a series of Bush-era growth spurts for government, following hard upon the Iraq war, the Medicare prescription drug program, and the No Child Left Behind Act. On Capitol Hill, leaders of both parties have left little doubt that they will spend what it takes, and probably more, to make waterlogged Katrina victims — and storm-damaged politicians — whole. Interest groups are circling hungrily. No wonder The Washington Post headlined recently, "Katrina Ushers in Return of Big Government."

So which way will the politics play? Will Katrina undermine government's credibility or enhance government's power? To judge by experience, the answer may be: both.


TRUST IN GOVERNMENT, 1976-2005

Always/ Mostly Trust

2/76 36%
9/76 40
4/77 35
10/77 33
11/79 30
3/80 26
11/80 39 (Reagan elected)
6/83 51
11/83 44
11/84 46
2/85 47
11/85 49
11/86 49
2/87 42
10/87 41
11/88 44
4/90 38
10/90 25 (Recession)
3/91 46 (Gulf War)
10/92 23
11/94 22
11/95 18
8/95 20 (OKC bombing)
11/96 25
1/98 26
10/98 26 9/99 38
10/00 40
10/01 55 (September 11)
1/02 46
9/02 38
7/03 36
7/04 40
9/05 29 (Katrina)


The data above graphs the public's answer to a perennial polling question, used since 1958 as a barometer of confidence in the federal government: "How much of the time do you think you can trust the government in Washington to do what is right — just about always, most of the time, or only some of the time?" The data are from polls by CBS News and The New York Times.

In the Eisenhower and Kennedy years (not shown), about three-fourths of the public said they trusted Washington "always" or "most of the time," but Vietnam, Watergate, and inflation led to the collapse in confidence that has come to define modern politics. In the mid-1970s, confidence was in the 30s and falling.

The decades since then divide, albeit not neatly, into four periods. The Reagan years saw confidence in government both rise and stabilize. The Bush 41 and early Clinton periods saw confidence plummet (apart from a short-lived spike following the 1991 Persian Gulf War). Beginning in the mid-1990s, the trend turned around, with public confidence rising to Reagan-era levels before surging in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, when people rallied to the government. The years since then have brought decline, recently back into the doldrums of the 30 percent range.

Many vectors shape the trends. The early-1990s numbers, for example, must have been affected by the recession of that period, and the late-1990s numbers by the economic boom. Still, it is striking that, going all the way back to the 1960s, a rough counterpoint emerges: The more ambitious Washington becomes, the lower the public's confidence in it.

Ike led cautiously and from the center. JFK did the same, despite his soaring rhetoric. It was when Washington set out to build a "Great Society" that the public's mood began to sour, a trend that President Nixon's cynicism and President Carter's fecklessness did nothing to reverse.

Ironically, it was the anti-government Reagan who, by succeeding better at doing less, restored confidence in Washington. The government's job, he proclaimed, is not to solve everybody's problems, but to face down the Soviets and stop inflating the currency, both of which he did. After ebbing under the first President Bush, confidence reached its nadir as Clinton and a Democratic Congress undertook a grandiose effort to reform health care.

In 1995, the Republicans took over Congress. They checked Clinton's liberal tendencies but overreached in the opposite direction. In April of 1995, an anti-government militant bombed a federal building in Oklahoma City, killing 168. "Anger at Washington Cools in Aftermath of Bombing," reported The Washington Post, releasing a poll showing that satisfaction with the federal government had "shot up" and that the number of people describing themselves as angry at the government had fallen from 16 to 9 percent. The new mood held. In January of 1996, Clinton declared, "The era of Big Government is over." Budget surpluses replaced deficits; micro-initiatives replaced grand new entitlements; in Bosnia and Kosovo, even war was miniaturized. James Madison, in Federalist 51, said, "Ambition must be made to counteract ambition," and in divided Washington, an ambitious Democratic president and an equally ambitious Republican Congress fought to a draw. As if in relief, the public's confidence in Washington rose. Though the public remained cynical about government, anger at government receded to the political byways. From the public's point of view, less was more.

The George W. Bush years have brought bigness back to government. The administration launched a big war, created a big drug entitlement, passed big tax cuts, ran up big deficits, and gave Washington a big new role in education. As the post-9/11 rally subsided, confidence in Washington drooped toward pre-Reagan levels. Then came the big hurricane.

"Katrina Shakes Confidence," summarized a CBS News poll. In the public's mind, the storm was only the first of two disasters; government's poor performance was the second. The public took note that Wal-Mart responded in hours while Washington seemed to take days, and that insurance adjusters seemed to arrive before the National Guard. In a September poll by Zogby International, 86 percent of the public rated private charities' response to the hurricane as good or excellent; only a third said the same of the government.

If Washington's rebuilding efforts go well, that might, in principle, stabilize or restore confidence in Washington; but Smith, for one, has no worries on that score. "Louisiana has the ability to corrupt any program, and it certainly has the capacity to take millions of dollars and turn it to waste," he says. Air-dropping money will work no better in Louisiana than it does in developing countries, he predicts.

Tales of waste, abuse, and ineptitude have already surfaced, and the media are digging hard. (On September 18, the lead story in the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel excoriated "a national disaster-response system that for years has been fraught with waste and fraud.") Reports that the government will erect quasi-permanent trailer cities and subsidize resettlement in flood-prone areas suggest that billions may be spent counterproductively.

It is too early to call Katrina a watershed (pardon the expression) in Americans' attitude toward government. But it is not too early to imagine that Katrina may be to this decade what the Oklahoma City bombing was to the last: a shock that both reveals and reinforces a sea change (again, pardon the expression) in public opinion.

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JWR contributor Jonathan Rauch is a senior writer and columnist for National Journal. Comment by clicking here.

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