It was an essay-heavy week at Via Meadia. The big story was without doubt the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Obamacare. Our take: though we don’t much care for the law, the American political system worked and that’s nothing to sneeze at.
The President made a proposal, the Congress then in office debated the proposal and, after much agony and pork peddling, passed a law. The law was and is controversial; it is being relitigated in two forums. Judicially, it moved through the Court system and received a full and thorough review, and a definitive decision has been pronounced. This is the law of the land, and it will and should be enforced until changed.
Chances are, the law will be a major issue in the fall election, and if the public elects a Congress and a President opposed to the law, Obamacare will be toast. Either way, we have a set of institutions through which the country can make big decisions. (And the framers never offered a guarantee that all the laws written under the Constitution would be good ones!)Compare that to the EU, where a lack of strong continent-wide institutions is exacerbating its problems. Indeed, though we think the latest round of negotiations may have yielded the first glimmers of hope for establishing just the kinds of institutions the EU desperately needs, the road ahead is as rocky as ever. Italy could still blow the whole continent sky-high, and the current holder of the rotating European presidency is a Communist Euroskeptic with ties to Vladimir Putin. Small wonder, then, that even more countries waiting in the wings for European accession are changing course into Russia’s orbit.Speaking of Europe, courts and bad decisions, a court in Cologne criminalized a key aspect of the Jewish faith: circumcision. We took it on the chin from an angry Andrew Sullivan, but stood by our initial take as Jewish and Muslim groups raised their voices against the ruling. By the end of the week, the German Foreign Minister and several prominent German Christian leaders were complaining as well. This court ruling will, we hope, be reversed in short order. One court doesn’t speak for the whole German nation, and this is a country which has worked hard to develop more tolerance. Via Meadia hopes and expects that Germans will soon find a way to make it legally possible for both Muslims and Jews to comply with what both groups see as a theologically important and time-honored part of their faith.Closer to home, the scandal at the University of Virginia over the firing and subsequent re-hiring of President Teresa Sullivan perfectly illustrated a story we’ve been hitting here at Via Meadia for a while now: the pressing need for change in higher ed.
the biggest scams going in American financial life today: the collusive effort by Wall Street, the political class, and public sector unions to use union retirement money to prop up Wall Street speculation. Despite financial blips which may scatter some short-lived pixie dust on the ledger books, even stalwart skeptics are coming around to understanding just what an unsustainable mess so many public pension systems have become.
What we see at UVA this month is just a foretaste of the storm that is coming — a few early raindrops and gusts of wind before the real storm hits. The country needs more education than the current system can affordably supply, and the pressure on the educational system will not abate until this problem is resolved.