Einstein was right – there seems to be no limit to human stupidity. But Forrest Gump was also right – stupid is as stupid does. Stupidity really means how stupidly one acts, not what one’s IQ might be. Many so-called intelligent people act stupidly. Take politicians.
America cuts defense despite growing threats from ISIS, Russia, and China. California plans a 100-billion-dollar bullet train despite businesses leaving the state, crumbling infrastructure, and a severe drought requiring new water reservoirs. Why?
It would be foolhardy to attempt to list all sources of stupidity, especially in this political season. In fact, it would be stupid. So I will limit myself to two causes.
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 could produce such a transformation.
Of course, it’s not the content of the material the individual studied. No, it’s 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 322 million Americans.
Similarly, Obama’s Harvard law degree somehow confers on him the knowledge required to regulate the health care of 322 million people. That he never studied medicine – or even learned how to pronounce “corpsman” – is irrelevant.
Picture the Wizard of Oz presenting a huge diploma to the Scarecrow. The Scarecrow still has a brain made of straw, 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 many “intellectuals” see it as a useful lesson on how to increase their prestige. They take it seriously.
These people ran General Motors and Chrysler into bankruptcy. They ran big banks into insolvency. Now they want to run the health care of 322 million people. They have the diplomas, but despite the wizards of academia, they still are not one iota more intelligent or skilled.
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 spouses, their economic system, their health care, their nation, and their religion. In their quest for their daydream of 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 damaging for the mind.
In graduate school, things got even worse. In 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.
If these people attain public office and take an oath to support and defend the Constitution, they are merely promising to further their own ideas. How hard is that?
So they pass a 2700-page health-care bill that Congress never read and that no one can understand – so unelected, faceless bureaucrats will interpret and enforce it. Gigantic, undecipherable laws are, in effect, Congress saying, “We quit – go and be ruled by bureaucrats.” Such laws are doing piece-by-piece what the Nazis did more efficiently with the Enabling Act – abdicate legislative power to the executive.
If they studied history or political science, the “elite” 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 make up 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 119 Americans in 2015 − die of mosquito-borne West Nile disease. And now, countless babies are being born severely malformed because of the Zika virus. But will environmentalists allow DDT to be used to kill the mosquitos that carry the virus? Don’t bet on it. Secular fanatics get a better press than religious fanatics, but they can do even more damage – as witness Hitler, Stalin, and Mao.
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 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. We will know how to vote on November 8.
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 enforced by unelected bureaucrats; when we weren’t bequeathing astronomical debt to our children and grandchildren; and when we were resolute enough to cause fear in our enemies instead of in our friends.
We won’t have to reminisce about the days when we were free. We won’t have to lament being governed by the Scarecrow. But even this is optimistic. At least the Scarecrow had straw for brains. The self-anointed geniuses who seek to rule us have brains made of a more disagreeable substance.
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