01 Feb 2010

Ordinary Americans Just Don’t Understand What’s Good For Them

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King Banaian, Chairman of the Econ Department at St. Cloud State, discusses at Hot Air the indignation of the bien pensants at the failure of the peasantry to bow down and accept gratefully the socialism that every liberal intellectual knows is good for them.

The notion that we know enough to know what is in someone else’s best interest is [a] fallacy, and I have found over the succeeding decades there are many academics that fall into it. Applied in the political sphere, it takes the form of “why does the public not understand what we are trying to do?” We heard it in President Obama’s State of the Union address last week in his claim that his failure on health care was “not explaining it more clearly to the American people.” It characterizes the thoughts of Thomas Frank in “What’s the Matter With Kansas?,” a book that I found alternately patronizing and pathetic, arguing that it must be false consciousness or hypnotizing demagoguery that leads the working class of Kansas, once home of agricultural Wobblies, to now vote consistently conservative.

That meme is now everywhere. David Brooks calls tea partiers anti-intellectual and Frank Rich calls them comatose. Responding to the election of Scott Brown, the BBC carries a column by David Runciman, a British academic political scientist of high birth (how else to describe someone whose Wikipedia entry notes his viscountcy?) that cannot understand why town halls are filled with people repulsed by Democrats health care reform. It’s to help them, dears!

    But it is striking that the people who most dislike the whole idea of healthcare reform – the ones who think it is socialist, godless, a step on the road to a police state – are often the ones it seems designed to help.

    In Texas, where barely two-thirds of the population have full health insurance and over a fifth of all children have no cover at all, opposition to the legislation is currently running at 87%.

    Instead, to many of those who lose out under the existing system, reform still seems like the ultimate betrayal.

    Why are so many American voters enraged by attempts to change a horribly inefficient system that leaves them with premiums they often cannot afford?

My friend Marty Andrade tweeted this link with the comment “But I stole this for you,” says the plunderer. “Why do you not take it? Why do you not vote for me?” But it is not so much the politician but the wonk, the analyst who makes such pretty plans, that finds himself exasperated by the failure of the public to appreciate them. No place does this happen more than in academia, particularly in America, where as I’ve argued before the academic does not often travel in either the working class circles or in those the successful businesspeople.

Read the whole thing.

3 Feedbacks on "Ordinary Americans Just Don’t Understand What’s Good For Them"


It has been ever thus.
Lara knew more than Pasha Antipov.
Lara: “But they don’t want a revolution.”
Pasha: “Oh yes they do. They just don’t know it, yet.”

No Man

Maybe we peasants see that central planning by clueless professors and useless college kids has engenderd mass poverty and universal misery wherever it was foisted, e.g., Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Nicaragua, etc.

General Stark

Academia consistently overrates its own intelligence and insight. For my part, I hope they continue not to understand why we continue to reject their social engineering – they cannot effectively fight what they do not understand.


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