Economics, Literature, Politics

This Must Be What Freedom Feels Like

In the waiting room of the hospital sits a gatekeeper. To this gatekeeper comes a man from the country who is in pain and seeks to gain entry to the hospital.

“Anyone may enter the hospital,” the gatekeeper tells the man. “All you need do is enter through the emergency door.” She gestures toward a wide, swinging door at the far end of the waiting room.

The man approaches the emergency door, then turns back. “How much will it cost to enter through this door?” he asks. The gatekeeper says that there is no way of knowing the cost before the man enters. She encourages him to enter for the sake of his health. “We can settle the cost afterward,” she smiles. “We are not barbarians, after all.”

The man returns to the gatekeeper’s desk and asks her if there is another way to enter the hospital. Continue reading


Obama as Moderate 1990s Republican

I’m not the first person to make this point, but it’s worth reconsidering occasionally: in terms of policy substance, President Obama is in many ways indistinguishable from a moderate 1990s Republican. Despite all the feverish rage on the right directed toward Obama’s supposed radical socialism, the substance of most of the policies Obama supports are safely center-right by 1990s American measures. (Not to mention that by the standards of European politics, where parties explicitly advocating for socialism actually exist, Obama would simply be right-wing: consider his military policies, his support for the regressive status quo in education funding, his rejection of significantly higher taxes and lack of commitment to a significantly more generous safety net, and so on.) The usual and still best example of Obama’s 1990s Republicanism is, of course, the Affordable Care Act, which follows the same general approach to health care promoted by the Heritage Foundation and implemented by Mitt Romney when he was governor of Massachusetts.

But one implication of the notion of Obama as a moderate 1990s Republican, so far as I know, has not yet been explored.

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