Thursday, July 29, 2010

Are the Elites Smarter than Us? Naaah. Experience Trumps Brilliance

By John Sykes

My resume might fit in better with my ex-friends who consider themselves the “Elite”. I just wasn’t able to drink the Kool-Aid of the 60’s and found my friends and heroes in those who defended us, and/or believed in personal responsibility, and/or pretty much wanted to be left to their own destinies.

My recent foray into Facebook and friending some of those from my “elitish” past was an interesting experiment. I evidently have become too dumb to stay friends with or even to communicate with after a very few exchanges.

Okay. If I’m now dumb I guess I need a reason to go on caring.

Thomas Sowell, in How Smart Are We? gave me some reasons and some hope:

One of the ideas that has proved to be almost impervious to evidence is the idea that wise and far-sighted people [read Elitists] need to take control and plan economic and social policies so that there will be a rational and just order, rather than chaos resulting from things being allowed to take their own course. It sounds so logical and plausible that demanding hard evidence would seem almost like nit-picking.

Sowell points out to us that:

The people who ran central planning agencies usually had more advanced education than the population at large, and probably higher IQs as well.

The central planners also had far more statistics and other facts at their disposal than the average person had. Moreover, there were usually specialized experts such as economists and statisticians on the staffs of the central planners, and outside consultants were available when needed. Finally, the central planners had the power of government behind them, to enforce the plans they created.

Yes. We all know where the “elite” central planners took us. But why didn’t they trump us? Why did they fail so miserably? Sowell eloquently tells us:

Because experience trumps brilliance.

Elites may have more brilliance, but those who make decisions for society as a whole cannot possibly have as much experience as the millions of people whose decisions they pre-empt. The education and intellects of the elites may lead them to have more sweeping presumptions, but that just makes them more dangerous to the freedom, as well as the well-being, of the people as a whole.

So as part of the “great unwashed”, as part of the now very vocal bunch that advocates less taxes, less government, more personal responsibility, and more caring, I’ll keep passing on the elitist Kool-Aid and rely on the only collective that truly works, the experience of “We the People”.

Related cartoons

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The Three Elitists