Posted by olvlzl.
Ezra Klein, a liberal, someone I agree with on a lot of things, recently said something that made my blood boil.
“Obviously I, like most coastal-bred elitists, don’t think voters make terribly good decisions.”
I cooled down considerably when I read on ...
“But I also don’t think economic actors are particularly rational.” But not entirely.
Going past the “coastal-bred elitist” phrase - guarantee to make me see red - it reminded me of one of the most disturbing lesson of reading the blogs, presumably the most democratic of all media. Democracy is not the universally assumed common ground of our politics anymore. While there is a lot of democratic talk and even some admirable examples of standing up for it, there is a lot more elitism and skepticism that democracy is possible or, perhaps desirable, among our allegedly educated class and on the left. Klein, I believe, doesn’t fall into that category so I don’t understand why he would associate himself with it even in jest.
This is a particularly disturbing article - book review by Christopher Hayes showing the growing overtly anti-democratic orthodoxy of the American academic and government establishment.
“If people are rational as consumers and irrational as voters,” Caplan writes, “it is a good idea to rely more on markets and less on politics.’
The first and most obvious problem with Caplan’s argument is that it quickly leads to some very dark places. He notes, enthusiastically, that education makes people think more like economists and that, luckily, the highly educated vote at higher rates than the less educated. But why leave it to chance? You could instead give more votes to businessmen and university graduates, as Caplan comes close to proposing, or simply require people to “pass a test of economic literacy to vote.?
And the book’ s manifest elitism is not fringe. It is blurbed by economist Alan Blinder, who advised President Clinton, and N. Gregory Mankiw, who headed the Council of Economic Advisors under George W. Bush. Over the last 30 years, conservatives have made political hay by railing against liberal ‘elitists’ who want to substitute the judgment of faceless bureaucrats, activist judges and pointy-headed intellectuals for that of the common man. Yet if you got some prominent conservatives off the record - after plying them with a few drinks -I bet more than a few would agree with Caplan: Voters are fools.
Good thing our campaign donors are the ones who really run things.
Anyone on the left who doesn’t believe in government of, by and for The People should ask themselves why they’re bothering. If the left isn’t fundamentally for democracy, insuring that The People have the information they need to cast informed votes for the purpose of benefitting the world at large and ensuring that their votes are cast and counted, it has no reason to exist. We’ve already got a political persuasion that is all about the interests of the elite, they’re the ones who were in power for the past six years and who have too much influence even within the Democratic Party. Caplan and his supporters seem to think they’re smarter than the Great Unwashed.
Experience keeps a dear school but a fool will learn in no other, said that most democratic of all our Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin. We’ve had the experience of government under conservatives for most of the past thirty years. Franklin should have told us what to call people who don’t learn from the hard lessons of experience. Then we’d know what to call Caplan and his supporters.