28 August 2007

Sauce, Goose, and Gander

In the grand (recent) tradition of American political commentary, the rest of this post consists of soundbites. Unlike most providers of soundbites — whether we mean the MSM, or the various political personalities, or their handlers/professional political operatives — I'll follow up each one with a bit of context.

  • Should he be elected, Mitt Romney has a ready-made chairman for the President's Council on Physical Fitness: Michael Vick. Context: dogs. Mitt throws his on top of the car, Vick throws his in the ring to kill each other. And isn't an athlete from a sport that requires one to strap on 15kg of protective gear to not play with the feet, and then takes a tea break every ten seconds, just perfect for something related to "physical fitness"?
  • George III defended his good buddy Alberto Gonzales, claiming that Gonzales's "good name [was] dragged through the mud for political reasons." Context: Isn't that what the Atwater/Ailes/Rove theory of politics both requires and has done since the mid-1980s? Please tell me exactly how invoking Willie Horton against Dukakis, or the even-less-factually-accurate Swift Boat Veterans ads, is any different?
  • Tort reform advocates point at supposedly ridiculous lawsuits that increase costs for everyone, such as getting scalded by coffee at McDonalds. Context: Leaving aside that tort reformers have a regrettable tendency to ignore both the facts of the case in question and the unstated corrollary to the occasional outrageous win by a plaintiff — the vastly more common outrageous win and tactics employed by a defendant — tort-reform advocates focus on allegations of increased transaction costs leading to expensive, overly defensive behavior as the true "cost" of these outrageous results. Of course, there's an obvious solution to this: No-fault medical care. Presuming that the medical need is not "outrageous," society as a whole already absorbs that cost — either in the cost of care itself, or in the cost of lost productivity and adaptations required when care is foregone because the individual can't (or won't, I suppose) pay for it. That is, if "cost" is the goose, "medical care as a public good/free rider problem" is the gander.