Many politicians do stupid things. Take California – it is virtually bankrupt, and businesses are leaving the state. But what does the Democratic establishment propose? To increase still further the already high taxes, and to increase still further the already burdensome regulations. What is more, they want to build a multi-billion-dollar bullet train, although passenger trains are proven money-losers. What’s going on here?
It would be foolhardy to attempt to mention all sources of stupidity, especially in this political season. In fact, it would be stupid. So I will describe two principal ones.
I can’t manage my own affairs, but I want to manage yours.
The fallacy is that individual human beings are too incompetent and immature to decide questions of life-and-death for themselves, but somehow they can become capable of making these decisions for others – perhaps millions of others.
For this to work, a magical transformation must take place, changing bumbling incompetents into the “elite.” Usually this transformation takes place during four years in a major university, preferably an Ivy League university. But when we examine the actual content of the courses, we are baffled as to how this schoolwork could produce such a transformation.
Of course, it is not the content of the material the individual studied. No, it is the diploma itself that produces the transformation. Thus President Obama, who to our knowledge never took a course in business or economics, was transformed by his Columbia A.B. in political science into someone capable of directing the incredibly complex economy of 314 million Americans.
Similarly, Obama’s Harvard law degree somehow confers on him the knowledge required to regulate the health care of 314 million people, who are incapable of making health-related decisions for themselves. That he never studied medicine – or even learned how to pronounce “corpsman” – is irrelevant.
One pictures the Wizard of Oz presenting a huge diploma to the Scarecrow. The Scarecrow still has no brain, but now he has an impressive certificate that testifies to his intellectual powers. We see this scene as a humorous commentary on the self-importance of “intellectuals.” But some “intellectuals” see it as a useful lesson on how to increase their prestige. They take it seriously.
Similar people ran General Motors and Chrysler into bankruptcy. Similar people ran big banks into insolvency. Now they want to run the health care of 314 million people. They have the diplomas, but despite the wizards of academia, they still have no brains.
To the “elite,” it’s not what they actually know; it’s the diplomas that adorn their walls. It’s not what they actually can do; it’s what they fantasize themselves doing – which is nearly anything.
If I imagine it, it must be true.
Most of us live in the real world. If we run out of money before we run out of month, we are forced to live within our means.
But some people spend much of their lives in a fantasy world. They compare people and things not to actual people and things, but to some imaginary ideal. So they are dissatisfied with their economic system, their health care, their nation, and their religion. In their quest for the perfect, they overlook the good − and often wind up worse off than before.
At the university, they were taught leftist theories that never worked – by leftist professors who probably never worked either. Unless they studied the hard sciences, they spent much of their student years dwelling in the world of leftist baloney. Baloney is unhealthful for the body, but it is even more unhealthful for the mind.
If these people went on to graduate school, things got even worse. At law school they were taught not what the Constitution actually says, nor what its authors wrote about their intentions. No, they were taught court cases about the Constitution. They were taught that the Constitution has no fixed meaning, but means whatever a judge says it means today. Tomorrow it may mean something different. And they were taught that reality exists not in the outside world, but in a stack of papers. So they pass a 2700-page health-care bill that Congress never read and that no one can understand.
They believe that whatever an authority figure imagines will somehow come true. This is not a good lesson for a citizen of a republic. And if they achieve public office and take an oath to support and defend the Constitution, they are merely promising to uphold their own ideas. This is an even worse lesson.
If they studied history or political science, they were probably exposed to an even more slanted view of the world. They were probably taught that capitalism is evil, though it is the source of most of the wealth and innovation in the world. They never learned that Americans comprise less than 5% of the world population but earn over 60% of Nobel Prizes in Medicine. They never learned that the majority of new drugs and treatments are developed in America, and that the profit motive is an important source of that innovation. Even drugs developed in nations with socialized health care are developed with the American market in mind.
They imagine a world in which altruism motivates innovation – in health care and in other fields. But they ignore the real world, where profit is a powerful incentive.
They imagine a world without pesticides. But they ignore the fact that since DDT was banned, over a million Africans − mainly children and pregnant women − die of mosquito-borne malaria every year. They protest that DDT killed birds. But without it, millions of birds − and 147 Americans so far this year − die of mosquito-borne West Nile disease.
They imagine a world in which their policies never have harmful effects, because they mean well. To them, good motives are all-important, while actual results are irrelevant and boring.
They imagine a “green” world, so they pass laws dictating what kind of light bulbs and toilets we can buy. They pass laws dictating fuel economy for cars, thereby requiring smaller cars. But in a crash, occupants of smaller cars are more likely to be killed or injured than occupants of larger vehicles. The “greens” forget that freedom is the most scarce and precious of all resources.
They imagine a world without poverty. But as a result, they pursue socialist policies that stifle the creation of wealth. An increasing number of children in America, and even more in some socialist nations, are growing up in homes where nobody works. What lesson does that teach young people? Can such a system survive? Does it deserve to survive?
They imagine a world without war. But as a result, they weaken our armed forces, and have judges make crucial national-security decisions. They saddle us and our children with a debt so huge that it will be impossible to fund an adequate military. Then who will defend our freedom and our values from those who hold quite different values, and who imagine a quite different world?
What can we do? As a first step, we might try remembering how it felt to choose our own light bulbs and toilets. We might try remembering how it felt to choose what our children eat for lunch. If we do that, we won’t place our lives in the hands of bureaucrats who are – at best – no smarter than we are. Then we will know how to vote on November 6.
And then, we won’t have to sit around reminiscing about the good old days, when we could get mammograms before the age of 50 and after the age of 70, when we could get Pap smears oftener than every three years, when we could get PSAs at all, when we could choose our own doctors, when our doctors could choose what treatments we would receive, when the government wasn’t involved in every aspect of our lives, when we weren’t subject to 2700-page laws interpreted by unelected bureaucrats, when we weren’t bequeathing astronomical debt to our children and grandchildren, and when we were resolute enough to evoke anxiety in our enemies instead of our friends.
That is, we won’t have to reminisce about the days when we were free. We won’t have to lament being governed by the Scarecrow.
Dr. Stolinsky writes on political and social issues. Contact: email@example.com. You are welcome to publish or post these articles, provided that you cite the author and website.