January 15, 2o17
Sometimes the People Need to Call the Experts … The government about to take over in Washington has more billionaires than the Boston of Buckley’s time, but it seems willing to test the theory that academics can be dispensed with for the most part.
This article says that people ought to run the country except when “experts” do a better job, and that’s a lot of the time.
The article maintains that it “prefers citizens for broad questions of policy and society. The citizens are more likely to be in touch with the concerns of everyday life, and less likely to embrace utopian schemes. They are more likely to be politically and culturally diverse. Overall, they are more conservative in both the ‘small c’ sense of that word and the more political sense.”
Not only that, but the article stresses that Democrats might make better decision-makers than Republicans and that having the people rule might result in a less immigration, less free trade, more law and order and more nationalism.
But – and there’s a big but – when it comes to the “the nuts and bolts of governance,” experts are preferable according to the article.
Typically I would prefer to be ruled by the Harvard faculty, even recognizing the biases of experts. They understand the importance of applying expertise to complex problems, and they realize many issues do not respond well to common-sense fixes.
The citizenry usually cannot make good decisions, or for that matter expert appointments, when technocracy is required.
If I had to pick a single area where faculty rule would be most appropriate, it is the Federal Reserve. (The Environmental Protection Agency would be another candidate.)
The article goes on to defend this preference. Few citizens, it says, understand much about inflation, interest or shadow banking. And its no accident, it adds, that recent Fed chairman have come from toplevel academic environments.
In contrast, normal people would just talk about easy money or hard money. The article disapproves of such talk when it comes to specific problems. In fact, the article is concerned about the possibility the Fed is headed away from a reliance on expertise.
The article is also concerned about the trend away from academic advice generally. President-elect Donald Trump has seemingly emphasized business sucess above almost anything else.
Trump’s attraction to alternative views when it comes to vaccines is also “worrying.” Generally there’s a “time and place” for generalist viewpoints but such viewpoints have been overdone.
For us, the problem of the Federal Reserve is easily solved. It ought to be done away with. Vaccines ought to be entirely voluntary. And business success is not necessarily better than other kinds of success. Again, when it comes to appointing people to office, the main priority ought to be offering fewer of them – a lot fewer.
Conclusion: The article stresses the considered opinions that academics can bring to the table. But outfits like the Fed are monopolies and surely not worth maintaining to begin with. Having academic commentaries on such things doesn’t make them better, it just obscures their essential worthlessness.