25 November 2009

Brooks and Friedman

According to David Brooks, the health care debate is primarily about values:

The bottom line is that we face a brutal choice.

Reform would make us a more decent society, but also a less vibrant one. It would ease the anxiety of millions at the cost of future growth. It would heal a wound in the social fabric while piling another expensive and untouchable promise on top of the many such promises we’ve already made. America would be a less youthful, ragged and unforgiving nation, and a more middle-aged, civilized and sedate one.

We all have to decide what we want at this moment in history, vitality or security. We can debate this or that provision, but where we come down will depend on that moral preference. Don’t get stupefied by technical details. This debate is about values.

And this past Sunday, Thomas Friedman named the six (only?!) problems with American politics today.

In short: 1) Money; 2) Gerrymandering; 3) Cable TV; 4) A permanent presidential campaign; 5) Internet; 6) Business ignoring common sense.

Read it all here.


Anonymous said...

Each of the problems has both an "upside" and a "downside" and in some the "down" is more pronounced than the "up" (e.g., the permanent presidential campaign, which shuts out the ability to focus on long-term benefits to civil society at the expense of the expediency of winning in the next election cycle). Also, each problem tends to feed the others in some way: the permanent presidential campaign is driven by the short news cycle of cable news and requires money to keep it going, etc. Such are the symbioses of early 21st century American politics. People focus inordinately on winning or losing power, not on what is best for the country and its citizens.

mtjofmcap said...

Coudn't agree with you more.

I think this connects to an early Friedman-ism: "Dumb as we wanna be." Originally suggested as a term to describe a "gas-tax holiday," it points towards an almost willful disregard for facts.

In other words, we'll be as dumb as we want to be in order to secure our own election.

Anonymous said...

a good list; i would put cable TV up after money. Not only does it hurt politics but society as well. Going along with the permanent campaign idea, there should also be a national primary for the Presidency. Too much BSing the locals in order to get votes.

Chris J

Anonymous said...

I actually think the primary system woks because candidates are required to talk to individual citizens in small gatherings in many states. Plus, it gives smaller states a voice in the outcome and not just the most populous states. Maybe we should have regional primaries but again states would not like cede their own prerogatives.

From a Catholic perspective, a national primary might dilute the voice of the Church in the public debate, which would be a tragic outcome given the serious moral issues facing us (state funding of abortion being one important one).

Anonymous said...

BTW, I recently was directed to your blog through a minor friar blog, whose creator I am privileged to have as my parish priest. My family and I have known many Capuchins over the years. I will remember you in my prayers as you continue on your journey (and will continue to check in on your blog as well).

mtjofmcap said...

Many thanks for your prayers and input. Charles is a great friar and brother to me. You're blessed to have him.

Anonymous said...

I respectfully disagree. I see your point, but feel that a candidate will just tell the locals what they want to hear regardless of whether it is good for the overall country. Once in office, many times what was said to the locals is discarded. But I sense I am much more pessimistic than you when it comes to politics. Maybe that's because I am from New Jersey, home of the most corrupt politicians in the country.

Chris J.