“And if I claim to be a wise man, it surely means that I don’t know.” – Kansas, “Carry On Wayward Son”
By Greg Smith
Anyone who took a few humanities or social science courses in college probably dealt with professors, highly educated people, who were dismissive in word or deed of views that opposed their own. These classes taught, through the arrogance of academia, how humans use education to justify an ideology instead of expanding an understanding of opposing views.
More than anything else the hubris of these academics taught the difference between knowledge and wisdom.
Which brings us to the MIT economics professor who has so thoroughly embarrassed himself and the Obama administration with his comments disparaging the intelligence of the American voter. Jonathan Gruber must be a smart man. You don’t graduate with a Ph.D. from Harvard and get a job on MIT’s faculty by being academically challenged.
How could someone who is evidently pretty bright talk about the “stupidity of the American voter” on camera? Moreover, why would he feel the need to repeatedly disparage the common people who stock the shelves, build the cars, police the streets, pay the taxes, fight the wars and support the bowling alleys? He comes off sounding – and come to think of it looking – like Waylon Smithers describing the “drones” who work in sector 7-G.
So often the hallmark of high intelligence is an arrogance-induced foolishness in which the sufferer dupes him- or herself into a dazed delusion of omnipotence. This is dangerous in anyone involved in government because it is such a short leap to justifying the means with the ends.
One need only look back to the Vietnam War to see where such hubris can lead. When John F. Kennedy was elected president in 1960 he brought in a youthful administration that included Robert McNamara, a Harvard MBA who ran the Department of Defense and war in Vietnam until 1968. McNamara was a very successful auto executive who advocated modern management techniques for the Pentagon.
These data-driven decision-making processes work very well in a highly defined process like building cars – McNamara ran Ford Motor Company – or even ordering military spare parts. A war, on the other hand, has far too many components that cannot be quantified. Placing a technocrat in charge is a recipe for disaster.
Enter, stage right, Obamacare and our dear Dr. Gruber and his computer models. It is hard to imagine the computer model that can take into account all the nuts and bolts that form healthcare in America. It covers all roughly 318 million residents. It covers births, deaths and every medical expense and decision in between. Anyone who believes they can accurately quantify and plan the infinite number of individual inputs and outcomes, especially in such a rapidly changing sector, is fooling themselves.
Most of us are probably not smart enough to put together a credible computer model of something much smaller than the U.S. healthcare system. But then most of us lack the sanctimonious belief in our own infallibility to try, which places us much lower on the scale of “stupidity” than Dr. Gruber.
A smart man may be able to put together a convincing healthcare computer model. A wise man would know better than to try. ©
Greg Smith is a stupid freelance writer and political consultant who lives in Bantam, CT. His stupid blog is found at www.betterfatthanfascist.com.