Saturday, November 2

Obamcare: Who needs competence when we have *magic*??

Richard Fernandez observes that many Democrats believe astonishingly goofy schemes will work--if done by government--because, as Daniel Greenfield puts it, “government is magic.”
Our technocracy is detached from competence. It’s not the technocracy of engineers, but of “thinkers” who read Malcolm Gladwell and Thomas Friedman and watch TED talks and savor the flavor of competence, without ever imbibing its substance.
These are the people who hold court at the best Washington parties--whose opinion pieces in the NY Times and the WaPo are swooned over by opinion-makers, but who couldn’t fix a toaster.

The ObamaCare website is the natural and predictable product of such people--people with Pulitzer prizes--and the occasional Nobel--and degrees from Ivy League schools, but who actually have no idea what a big program really costs or how it works.

They know they can hire staff to find those answers, see.

These people have Grand Ideas.  They simply refuse to concern themselves with trivial details--which are properly left to geeks and wonks and platoons of ordinary people.  If the people who have Grand Ideas had wanted to fix toasters they wouldn’t have become lawyers.  Greenfield continues:
The America of a few generations ago was a far more competent place. For all our nice toys, we seem incompetent compared to men who could build skyscrapers and fleets within a year… and build them well.

We don’t do those things anymore--not because the knowledge and skills don’t exist, but because our culture no longer allows it.
One of the foundations of competence is the knowledge that one can't make a thing work simply by wanting it to.  Chanting magic words and going through the motions won't make something work.  Human devices only work if you understand *how* a thing will work, and then build it, test it, redesign the parts that didn't work the way you expected.  You wrestle with the problem until you get it right.

It's hard work and not for the lazy or pampered.  You can read it in the workings of the men who built the longest suspension bridges, laid undersea cables and watched their world change. They were supremely competent.  Unfortunately it would appear that their time may be done. …

Politicians today invoke FDR and JFK, they talk about the New Deal and the Great Society, they make grand promises and roll out big programs because the grand-sounding ideas win elections.  Making it work is another thing altogether.  If you have a reason why their grand idea is *fundamentally*, intrinsically flawed--and thus will not produce the results they claim, or at a fatal cost--you'll be ignored.  Because they're smaht and elite, and you're just Ordinary.  Blustering or strong-arming their way to whatever they wanted has always worked before, and there's no reason that should have changed.

Joe Biden and Barack Obama exemplify today's Democrat pols (and a big chunk of the GOP as well) perfectly:  they don’t understand the fundamentals of how or why a program works, but government is magic and if "the optics" of a thing are good, that's all you need. 

It's the kind of reasoning that lets Democrats, socialists and "progressives" believe government benefits are "free."  And that Obamacare will work.

And it will, won’t it?  Even conservatives are half convinced, borne along by the belief that if the NYT and WaPo say it will, and if enough money is printed, then of course it will. 

With that many sorcerers chanting the right words in unison, magic will happen.  All you need is hope.

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