Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The public failure of the Intellectual Class

Jonathan Gruber was probably as close to the "Obamacare Architect" as you can find.  This was no accident - he was also the architect of the 2006 Massachusetts RomneyCare bill that was the blueprint for the National Monstrosity.  His resume punches all the boxes of the Intellectual Elite's view of a policy making technocrat: MIT undergrad, Harvard PhD, currently teaching economics at MIT.  While MIT isn't technically an Ivy League school, it's as close as America gets to L'Ecole Polytechnique: you don't get more geeky techno-cred than from there.

Dr. Gruber has been in the news lately for a moment of candor.  It was so, well, candoriffic that even La Wik can't ignore it:
In a panel discussion about the ACA at the University of Pennsylvania in October 2013, Gruber stated that the bill was deliberately written "in a tortured way" to disguise the fact that it created a system in which "healthy people pay in and sick people get money". He stated that this obfuscation was necessary, due to "the stupidity of the American voter or whatever", in order to get the bill passed and that a "lack of transparency is a huge political advantage."[16] His comments caused controversy after a video of them was placed on YouTube in November 2014.
"Controversy"?  Boy, howdy. [video of Gruber's comment at the link]

This is the view of the Intellectual Elite - they have proven by their Ivy League credentials that they are smarter than you or me - and in the Elite's world, smart is everything.  And so they repeatedly push unpopular laws and mandates: Obamacare, Immigration "reform", the centralization of power in Washington D.C. and the Brussels that sees itself as the capitol city of an EU Superstate.  And if the plebs vote the wrong way on the treaty, make 'em vote again, and again, until they get it right.

Because Smart uber alles.  The Intellectual Elite is fit to rule as Philosopher Kings because they are ever so clever.  That's precisely how they think.

The problem is that they're really not all that smart.  David Brooks is a member of that class, and is certainly very clever - New York Times columnist, and all that.  Brooks has been (quite appropriately) mocked for his admiration of then Senator Obama's "perfectly creased trousers".  In truth, the mockery misses the mark, because the entire quote (from an interview of Brooks in 2006 after he met the junior Senator from Illinois) is much more damning:
But, as they chewed over the finer points of Edmund Burke, it didn’t take long for the two men to click. “I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging,” Brooks recently told me, “but usually when I talk to senators, while they may know a policy area better than me, they generally don’t know political philosophy better than me. I got the sense he knew both better than me.”

That first encounter is still vivid in Brooks’s mind. “I remember distinctly an image of--we were sitting on his couches, and I was looking at his pant leg and his perfectly creased pant,” Brooks says, “and I’m thinking, a) he’s going to be president and b) he’ll be a very good president.”
Why would Brooks have thought that Obama would have been a very good president?  Because Obama passed himself off as being a card carrying member of Brooks' Intellectual Elite class.  He was able to talk about Burke, so clearly he would be an effective leader.  Or something.

This is the problem with the Intellectual Elite: they have far too high an opinion of their brains ("... they generally don’t know political philosophy better than me.").  They have no idea just how many things they have no idea about - things that millions of Americans do every day: start, run, and grow a business; lead soldiers in combat; accomplish something.

Instead, it's all symposia and friendly hail fellow well met back slapping with the other members of their club (which is not to say there isn't vicious office politics between them, just saying that we didn't win World War II with superior office politics skills).

And so the misplaced sense of superiority leads to Gruber's bald faced lies.  No wonder the Intellectual Class is held in such contempt by the population.  And the punch line?  Gruber and his pals don't get that.  They can't imagine that it would make a difference, and so they dance off to lie to the "stupid American voters" again.

Because they can't see a negative consequence from holding this sort of world view.  Smart, right there.


Rev. Paul said...

The problem with their hubris is that they're too often right: not about how smart they are (because they're not), but about how uninformed the typical voter is.

Borepatch said...

Rev. Paul, the theory of Rational Ignorance says that it makes sense for the public not to be amateur policy wonks. However, it assumes that important issues (q.v. ObamaCare) will be presented in a transparent manner.

If it's not, then it's more than a little predatory.

burt said...

Brooks, Gruber, Krugman - they all suffer from the same intellectual-elite blind spot (heh - almost typed "blonde spot").

Simply put, they believe that, in theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, however, this is often not true.

It's easy to come up with theories. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.

Tacitus2 said...

Is he not actually telling bald faced truths?


Kevin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kevin said...

Trust me, I'm smarter than you."

Goober said...

Rev. Paul;

I work 60 plus hours a week on any given week. I've got 53 million dollars in open construction contracts being managed out of my office, alone.

There are 152 people working directly under my supervision right now, and it can peak as high as 300. Each of them is performing very complex tasks for which I'm responsible for making sure the proper materials, tools, and equipment are on site for them when they show up.

Given all of that, do you know what I don't have time for?

Being an "informed" voter, to the level that it would take for me to truly be able to wear that title.

My honest guess is that if you really pinned yourself down and were honest about it, neither do you.

Or do you know a list of the bills in the house and senate right now, and what each of them does, pros and cons, and so forth?

We elect representatives to REPRESENT us so that we don't have to put another 50 hours a week into governing this country.

If our representatives are not brutally honest with us when they give us the tl:dr version of the bills that they plan to pass, then our entire system falls down around our feet.

If they don't bother to read them, themselves, and if they purposely confuse and obfuscate when they give us the tl:dr version of events, then our system fails.

Our country literally relies on our representatives being honest.

if we get into a situation where they allow this sort of blatant, preening dishonesty, then we may as well kiss the USA goodbye.

This is not the voters' fault. We've got better things to do. That's why we hire representative - to REPRESENT us.