Two op-eds in the July 15 New York Times caught my attention as representing contrasting opinions by influential Jews on current political issues.
David Brooks writes about how in the past people felt that they should work to preserve their own societies, but that today they sacrifice their own communities to benefit poorer communities that they have no relation to. He says this view, espoused by Jonathan Haidt, is that “morality is not based on loyalty to people close to them; it’s based on a universal equality for all humans everywhere.” He says the division between these two ways of thinking is the difference between nationalists and globalists. You have the “same moral obligation to a boy starving to death in South Sudan as to a boy drowning in the lake in front of you.” The universalists see the Trump nomination as a sign that the pendulum as swung too far in their direction and is now swinging back toward nationalism. Brooks argues that the American approach of assimilation has made it unnecessary to choose between the two views, but this election would indicate that the current situation is not ideal for at least a significant number of Americans.
In the same edition, Paul Krugman writes that high stock market prices do not indicate a strong economy. He says that the high market prices today indicate the increasing importance of corporate profits in today economy versus the declining importance of labor. It’s interesting to me that as Jew Krugman points to the evils of the declining value of labor despite the fact that Jews tend to make their money from capital, rather than labor. He says capital as become more important even as it has ceased investing in new production; it is becoming more important by manipulating the market, mainly by moving toward more and more monopoly. Secondly, Krugman says because of low interest rates, there are no good alternatives to investing in the stock market. Big American companies are sitting on huge piles of cash with they are not investing. Finally, he argues as he always does, for more infrastructure investment by the government. (The current merger proposals of four healthcare companies, Aetna, Humana, Anthem and Cigna illustrate the move toward monopoly. Wikipedia says Anthem CEO Joe Swedish is a refugee from Eastern Europe; it does not say whether his family was Jewish. The other three CEOs do not appear to be Jewish.)
I see David Brooks’ article as espousing typically Jewish viewpoint. Jews are always afraid that they will be discriminated against (or worse), and therefore espouse a universalist view, i.e., white Anglos should not discriminate against anybody (especially Jews). The two philosophical writers he cites, Jonathan Haidt and Peter Singer, are both Jews. On the other hand, Krugman seems disturbed by financial activities that are typically pursued by Jews.
Another irony to me is the huge Jewish support for Hillary Clinton, and Jewish lack of support for Bernie Sanders, an ethnic Jew, if not a religious Jew. The Clintons have repeatedly shown their loyalty to the Jewish community, from Bill Clinton’s pardon of Mark Rich to Chelsea’s marriage to a Jew whose father, Ed Mezvinsky, is a convicted felon for financial manipulation. Of course, Trump’s son-in-law’s Jewish father, Charles Kushner, also spent two years in jail.
The Bernie Sanders controversy indicates to me that many Jews are more loyal to their “tribe” than they are to any particular country that they happen to live in, except for Israel, to which they are extremely loyal. For them America is a good place to live and make money, but so far, despite they huge political and economic power, they do not see it as their country. Joe Lieberman’s defeat as Vice President probably indicated that at least at that time, America was not ready for a Jewish Vice President. So today, they throw their support behind Hillary who is a solid friend of the Jews. Jews are leaders in the Democratic party in both the House and the Senate, although the discrimination by Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, a Jew, against Bernie Sanders, a Jew, has cost her her in the party. Wasserman-Schultz was important as a fund raiser, no doubt because she could get contributions from many rich Jews, many in her Florida home state. In the Senate, Jewish Chuck Schumer is no doubt staying very quiet as waits to replace Harry Reid.