Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Jews Are Political Simpletons

That's the message of Roger Simon, who thinks that American Jews treat the Democratic Party like a "religion" and whose reasons for "fealty" are "at best sentimental and nostalgic, and at worst self-destructive."

As it turns out, these sorts of articles are just as obnoxiously patronizing when written to Jews as when they're written to Blacks. I always assumed that I supported the Democratic Party because they are a closer match to the majority of my political commitments -- some of which are religiously linked (such as peace in Israel, or defending the rights of religious minorities in America), some of which are not (like protecting gay rights and supporting racial equality). Though it must be said that even the positions that aren't directly related to my religious status still are strongly informed by my interpretation about Judaism's mandates regarding social justice.

Anyway, it turns out I vote the way I do because I'm blinded by nostalgia about the 60s. So, according to Simon, I should abandon my entire lifetime's worth of political views because some Democrats didn't join a symbolic protest against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. This, apparently, is the mature thing to do. Color me unconvinced.

I'm very open to supporting Republicans. All they have to do is (in deed, not words) support gay rights, support racial equality and affirmative action, support aggressive anti-poverty measures instead of blaming the poor for their own problems, oppose school resegregation, oppose retrograde views about women's rights and pay equity, oppose the toxic neo-conservative foreign policy mix of petulance, self-righteousness, and bombast, crack down on polluters, protect the middle class from predatory lending practices, and oppose efforts to inject overt Christian theology into the public arena. In other words, not be Republicans. Until then, I feel like I'm being quite reasonable supporting the Democratic Party.

Jews are smart people. We know what we're voting for.

Via Randy Barnett.

17 comments:

PG said...

I had to stop reading at the fourth paragraph because Roger L. Simon uses exclamation points like he's writing on MySpace.

Cycle Cyril said...

You have good intentions but your results need to be evaluated.

For example "aggressive anti-poverty measures" have been tried and found wanting. In the sixties aid to single parents were expanded with the resulting expansion of single parenthood (and I'm not talking about self-supporting women having a child before their biological clocks ran out) which only began to be partially reversed under Clinton with welfare reform.

Another example would be of misplaced concern involving pay equity. If you look at women and men who devote equal time and effort to their jobs their pay is equal. Women's pay to a large extent reflect the choices they make with regards the type of jobs they hold and the amount of time they devote to their families.

Lastly Simon is down on the Democrats because they are not regarding issues that are central to Jews, in this instance the existential threat that is Iran, as important enough to even make a symbolic gesture.

If the Democrats are not willing to make a symbolic gesture do you really think they will offer a sacrifice of treasure let alone blood?

Jack said...

"And then Joseph Biden told us he was busy–too busy to protest a nuclear-armed madman who fervently believes that his mysterious Twelfth Imam (Mahdi) is destined to unite a chaotic globe under Allah."

Really. Who has time these days?

But seriously, Iran doesn't have nuclear weapons and if they did Ahmadinejad wouldn't have control of them. Moreover, public officials look lame and ineffectual protesting other, less powerful public officials. Its like a teenager protesting that his baby sister doesn't do enough chores.

David Schraub said...

Also, Cyril, saying "Jews, like everyone else, should vote GOP because they have better policies" is fine. I disagree, obviously, but it's fine. But Roger is saying "Jews, in spite of disagreeing with Republicans on most every issue, should vote for them anyway, prior to being convinced that the GOP way is correct." Which is moronic.

Jack said...

Is it really as moronic as believing there is no pay equity problem?

Cycle Cyril said...

David

Roger is saying that Jews should not be aligned with any party. Your paraphrasing is totally misleading. If it is a direct quote from him from another article please give a link, but in the linked article he directly says no alignment with any party.

Keep this up and you'll become a hack lawyer attempting to prove orange is gray. (I was about to say white/black but if I did you'll probably think I'm a racist - but you probably think that already.)

As for pay equity with statistics you can prove almost anything. If you look at gross numbers - all women versus all men - there's "inequity". But if you look at men and women with similar circumstances - i.e. single, no children and in same field for the same number of years - you will find no inequity.

Inequity occurs with marriage because men start to work harder and put in more hours to support a family. And when you do factor in children and the time they demand, borne mostly by women, you have further "inequity". And I haven't even touched upon career choice.

One last final comment on inequity. If I was an employer why would I hire any man if I could get an equally competent woman for 20 or 10 or even 5 percent less?

Now going back to Roger's primary issue of should Jews owe their allegiance solely to the Democratic party I close with this quote from Caroline Glick: "...Jewish American voters should consider carefully whether opposing a woman who opposes the abortion of fetuses is really more important than standing up for the right of already born Jews to continue to live and for the Jewish state to continue to exist. Because this week it came to that."

PG said...

1) Regarding AFDC, I don't think maintaining families at subsistence levels so they wouldn't actually die of hunger or exposure was what David meant by "aggressive anti-poverty measures." Indeed, certain aspects of TANF are more aggressively anti-poverty than its predecessor, because of the focus on educating and training welfare recipients so they can get jobs. Requirements to provide health benefits and pay a living wage to employees also fight poverty rather than merely keeping people at a level just above destitution (although I personally am skeptical of a single nationwide wage because the cost of living is different in different areas).

2) If you look at women and men who devote equal time and effort to their jobs their pay is equal.
Could I get any evidence of research to back this claim?

If I was an employer why would I hire any man if I could get an equally competent woman for 20 or 10 or even 5 percent less?
This is the question that always gets asked about discrimination -- it would be irrational to discriminate, so it must not be happening. Black people in the 1950s weren't being discriminated against in employment because that would be economically irrational for the employer to do. People are still making this argument 50 years after UChicago economist Gary Becker published The Economics of Discrimination, which studies such "taste-based discrimination." Indeed, if you have different cultural mores and biases than that of the majority, you can get a great deal on the labor of the discriminated-against group. Some American employers in Japan, for example, used to save a lot of money because they were willing to hire women for professional positions while Japanese employers wouldn't. The sexism in the society restricted which positions those women could take -- ones that would require a lot of interaction with men outside the firm, for example, wouldn't be possible -- but sure, if you don't have much of a taste for discrimination, there are good deals out there.

3) The more accurate summary of Simon's piece is that he says, "Jews should not align with Democrats to the extent that Democrats are, in the opinion of Roger Simon, insufficiently supportive of Israel." Simon is advocating an essentially single-issue politics for Jews, just as Cyril is with his quote from Glick. It doesn't matter that Jews, like other humans, have multiple political commitments, whether to feminism, socialism, capitalism, patriarchy, justice, government non-intervention, reproductive choice, the recognition of embryos as legal persons. Jews, in this view, are defined wholly by a commitment they must have to Israel, and on Simon, Cyril and Glick's terms, this commitment includes the necessity of seeing opposition to Jewish interests in just the refusal to take part in a politicized rally against a potential aggressor toward Israel. There is no place, in this image of the American Jew, for the good faith belief that perhaps having the future president or VP protest a leader with whom s/he may need to work isn't wise. As ever with Republicans, either you're with us or you're against us.

Cycle Cyril said...

PG

1
The point of TANF is that after the money ends you are on your own. That is a more powerful motivating factor that anything feel good program out there.

2
A society, if it is willing to remain retarded in its economic development, can maintain discrimination of its choosing. However in a capitalistic system with frequent job migration any discrimination, over time, will whither away.

3
The issue for me and Caroline Glick and Roger Simon is not about supporting Israel so that it can sell oranges to Europe but whether it can survive an existential threat. It goes beyond "feminism, socialism...." on your list and goes toward survival. The Democrats were not just unable to give a symbolic support for Israel's survival but put pressure on several wimpy Jewish groups to uninvite Palin putting political gain above Israel's survival.

PG said...

1. I am unclear about what people are supposedly being motivated to do. Do you seriously believe that someone who could have held a job that gave her more in cash and benefits than she got in welfare benefits (to live in a housing project or fight for Section 8 vouchers; to pay for groceries with food stamps; to find health care providers willing to accept Medicaid; to lack the money to take her kids to the dentist when they are crying in pain, and to have their teeth pulled out because that's the only dentistry Medicaid covers) just didn't take that job because she found welfare so delightful?

People who were on welfare generally had trouble getting jobs because of their existing problems -- lack of education and skills, addictions, physical and mental health problems -- and employers' disinclination to hire them. TANF came with incentives for employers to hire former welfare recipients as well as a host of programs to improve the recipients' employability. If you believe that all recipients needed was to be kicked off welfare and they would exit poverty, I invite you to talk to TANF administrators, especially those who had recipients' children taken away when the recipients couldn't support them.

2. A society, if it is willing to remain retarded in its economic development, can maintain discrimination of its choosing.

I do believe that's the first time someone has told me that Japan, 1950-1990, was retarded in its economic development. My husband studied Japan and its economy at Oxford and lived there on and off for several years. I'll have to see if he knows of someone else who advances this theory. As usual, Cyril provides nothing to back his claims except his own assertion.

3. I don't recall having mentioned oranges, and people don't commit to feminism to get dates. (pun unintended) Political commitments usually go beyond immediate benefits to oneself and are connected with conscience.

None of the Democrats is advocating that the U.S. stand aside while Israel is wiped off the map. (Though I would like to note that American Jews =/= Israel; an American Jew can be indifferent to Israel's continued existence without gunning for his own death.) However, if you believe that having vice presidential candidates attend a protest will do anything to help Israel's survival, I must say that this is a rare occasion of conservatives' believing that street protests by citizens of Nation X against the leader of Nation Y actually can and should change anything in the real world.

PG said...

madman who fervently believes that his mysterious Twelfth Imam (Mahdi) is destined to unite a chaotic globe under Allah.

Like Hindus, Jews aren't much on either conversion or apocalyptic thinking, but I wonder how Simon's view, that only crazies believe a holy religious leader will unite a chaotic globe under a true God, would play among certain parts of the Republican electorate.

Joe said...

On fair pay, one word: Ledbetter.

'Nuff said?

Cycle Cyril said...

1
Yes there will always will be people willing to live off the public dole even at a level that would shock you or me, because I've seen and spoken with those people.

And yes there are those too far gone to be able to work but the pendulum was swung too far and cuts were needed for too many were taking advantage of the system.

2
Are you willing to say that Japan could NOT have made even greater advances if women were a full part of its economic life? I think they could have and thus they retarded their development.

3
Symbols are important. If I remember correctly even Obama said that words are important. If a party is not even willing to give the token of a symbol why do you think they would do more? Especially concerning the existential threats coming from Iran towards Israel.

Joe
Ledbetter is anecdotal and not statistical. Just because I know someone who won the lottery doesn't mean that everyone wins (let alone me).

PG said...

You're saying that gender discrimination on pay is economically irrational and therefore must not happen. You didn't say it wasn't statistically significant; you said, "If you look at women and men who devote equal time and effort to their jobs their pay is equal." Ledbetter's case proves, as most of us already knew, that people can be economically irrational when they have other interests at stake. The lottery analogy is ridiculous because the lottery is set up so that only one person wins. I hadn't realized that people with a taste for discrimination thought of it as "I need to pick ONE unlucky gal to discriminate against, and I'll treat the rest fairly."

Are you willing to say that Japan could NOT have made even greater advances if women were a full part of its economic life?

Considering that Japan's economic advances primarily came from efficiencies that in turn were possible partly due to a highly homogeneous society, I'm not sure that the presence of women in the workplace would have done a great deal to improve their economy 1950-1990. One of the major macroeconomic problems with discrimination is that people belonging to the discriminated-against group cannot make their contributions of creativity and innovation. This is extremely important in the U.S. because we have a capitalistic system with a relatively high cost of labor; our advances depend in great part on creativity and innovation. Our society as a whole is far less oriented toward stability than Japan's is.

Obama said words are important; words, after all, are supposed to convey specific meaning. Language is part of what defines us as humans. You might recall that when it comes to symbols like flag lapel pins, Obama doesn't see much value. My father, as I've noted here before, doesn't adorn himself, his home or his car with flags, yet he is an extremely patriotic person. He loves this country and will give unsolicited speeches on not-exactly-apropos occasions about how great America is. Some people don't rely on ambiguous symbols to express sentiments; they speak and they act.

I am just really confused by these claims that the Democratic Party will cheerfully stand by while Israel is nuked. There seems to be absolutely nothing to back up this claim. The people like Simon, Glick and Cyril who advance it don't offer any evidence in its favor, aside from Democrats' unwillingness to show up for a street protest against the Iranian president. I didn't show up for pro-choice rally to which I was invited -- does that mean I won't take action to prevent the government from taking away women's rights? Heck, I could have asked for some time off work and gone to the Iran rally myself, but I didn't -- I must be OK with Iran's nuking Israel.

People go to protests for their own reasons and purposes; some are effective, some are not. If you think having some protesters standing outside the UN will change either American policy toward Iran, or Iran's policy toward anyone else, you're mildly delusional. I think such a protest has other useful effects, such as gaining press coverage, bonding participants together for their cause, etc. But they aren't changing the facts on the ground one bit. No politician's calculation of the importance of supporting Israel and opposing Iran is altered. Ahmadinejad's sense of persecuted self-importance lives to see another day.

Cycle Cyril said...

PG

You're floundering.

When anyone talks about pay equity it has to be on a large group level because the pay for any single individual is simply too full of variables to make any appropriate sense beyond that individual. And yes individuals can make irrational decisions for which the marketplace (or life) over time will cost that individual with losses or a poorer outcome.

Ledbetter does not by itself prove a systemic problem of pay inequity.

Your comments on Japan make little sense. Their advantage in the cost of labor disappeared 30 to 40 years ago which is why they dove head first into just in time production and automation (though not as much automation as you may think). To say that they would not have benefited from women in the workplace is fascinating coming from your keyboard, someone who I thought was a true blue feminist.

With regards to symbolism there is a difference between an individual deciding to go to a rally and a political party deciding to decline to go to a rally which it has gone to in the past, in conjunction with the opposing party, for base political reasons.

Words and symbols have meaning and power. And they indicate what people (and parties) will do or not do in the future.

PG said...

When anyone talks about pay equity it has to be on a large group level because the pay for any single individual is simply too full of variables to make any appropriate sense beyond that individual.

If this were true, any lawsuit brought with regard to violations of anti-discrimination law would have to allege that pay was inequitable for multiple plaintiffs. That would bring it toward being a class action, as with Wal-Mart. Obviously our law provides for individuals to bring cases of pay inequity based on their individual circumstances, alleging that they are not being paid for doing the same work as others. I have no idea what you mean by "When anyone talks about pay equity it has to be on a large group level."

"Their advantage in the cost of labor disappeared 30 to 40 years ago."

I have no idea where you're getting this. In 1980 Japanese unit labor cost stood at only 82 percent of the U.S. level.

Feminists aren't required to make the case for women's rights based on benefits to men, although I see the political reasons to do so. Women should be treated equally with men regardless of the effect on GDP simply because equality is morally correct. (Also, moving workers from home to wage work has a distorting effect on GDP, because those tasks that used to be unpaid -- child care, cooking, house cleaning, clothes mending, etc. -- now have to be outsourced in some fashion, whether by buying more-expensive microwaveable meals or paying for daycare.)

a political party deciding to decline to go to a rally which it has gone to in the past, in conjunction with the opposing party, for base political reasons.
Words and symbols have meaning and power. And they indicate what people (and parties) will do or not do in the future.


So what exactly is it that you, Simon and Glick think the Democratic Party will or won't do in the future? Sadly, I can't seem to get more than dark forebodings about a second Holocaust out of any of y'all's pronouncements. Are you seriously asserting that the Democratic Party will not want to respond with force if the government of Iran attacks Israel?

I just find this particularly odd because on the one bill where McCain has shown support for, say, designating the Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization, Obama also was a co-sponsor. On a similar though more heavy-handed measure that came to a vote, neither McCain nor Obama voted, and Nays came from Republicans Hagel and Lugar, as well as noted anti-Semites Feingold, Boxer, Wyden and Sanders.

All y'all seem to point to is symbols, with no reference to speech or action.

Cycle Cyril said...

There will always be individual cases of inequity which may involve just one person, as in Ledbetter, or a group of people (forming a class action), as in Wal-Mart. But in the universe of American earners, much larger than the above groups, when you compare the pay between equivalent groupings of men and women (as I noted above with regards to being single, years at the job etc) they are equivalent.

You appear to be seeking perfection in pay equity, a homogeneity that is impossible. Forget about it. Just as there will always be crime and evil in this world there will be examples of sexual discrimination manifested by pay inequity. But just as crime in America is the exception, thank goodness, pay inequity is the exception. Does that mean we should not be vigilant about either? No. But with regards to pay equity in America at this time it is time for feminists to seek more fertile grounds.

I was talking about the cost of labor, you are talking about the unit labor cost. These are two different things. Here is an example: A man earns one dollar per hour. In this hour he makes a widget that costs one dollar. A woman (in another country) earns one dollar per hour and in that hour makes two widgets that each costs one dollar. The cost of labor is the same for both the man and the woman but the unit labor cost for the man is one and for the woman it is one half.

Unit labor costs reflect productivity and labor costs, not just labor costs. Beginning in the 1970's Japan began to produce their goods in other countries where the labor costs were lower and where they introduced their higher productivity thus achieving an even lower unit labor cost. Interestingly they first did this in the USA (there were other factors involved as well which were political but nonetheless Japan's labor costs were high).

The Democratic Party partly and the Left almost wholeheartedly is embracing an Anti-Israel stance. It has started with the foregoing of symbolic support and my fear is that it will continue and give encouragement and justification to those seeking to destroy Israel.

If Iran attacks Israel alone America is not going to respond with force against anyone. Israel will do it and, I dread and hope, turning Iran into molten radioactive glass.

Coming from Brooklyn I don't use y'all. I use youse as the plural for you.

PG said...

You appear to be seeking perfection in pay equity, a homogeneity that is impossible. Forget about it. Just as there will always be crime and evil in this world there will be examples of sexual discrimination manifested by pay inequity. But just as crime in America is the exception, thank goodness, pay inequity is the exception. Does that mean we should not be vigilant about either? No. But with regards to pay equity in America at this time it is time for feminists to seek more fertile grounds.

If you think that we should be vigilant and presumably use the force of civil law against sex discrimination just as we use the force of criminal law against crimes, I'm confounded as to why you think that the Lily Ledbetter Act, which protects plaintiffs' ability to use civil law against sex discrimination, is a bad thing. If you concede that pay inequity does occur and is wrong and should be stopped with the force of law, then why is the desire to pass the Ledbetter Act a "misplaced concern"?

The Democratic Party partly and the Left almost wholeheartedly is embracing an Anti-Israel stance.

Now a failure to show up at the rally is a positively ANTI-Israel stance? And still no substantiation of the claim beyond the one rally. This is extremely weak stuff on which to make such an accusation -- in Britain you'd probably be subject to a libel lawsuit for stating that Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Barack Obama and other unnamed members of the Democratic Party are "anti-Israel" on the basis of failing to attend a particular rally.