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Knowing we are in over our heads

One reason we have governments, for you inquiring civil libertarians, is for guidance. I can certainly think of two matters which might always evade common man’s grasp: nutrition and economics.

In spite of all best efforts to educate a public, we may have to agree that nutrition and economics are too big for the layman to grapple. We elect representatives to Washington to advise our lives about complexities like these.

Take for example the fudgsicle, it’s “low fat” but probably not on the whole going to make you skinnier. By the taste, the fudgsicle is made of sugar. So where does that put it, as obesity causal factors go?

Regulating calorie intake vis-a-vis carbs, electrolytes, supplements, additives, toxins and who knows what, is not a static math problem. It’s about maintaining a buoyant equilibrium as we move our bodies forward in our mortal trajectory. It’s like keeping the steam pressure up on an old locomotive, there was a reason the train drivers were called engineers. A steam engine didn’t start and go like its Lionel Train facsimile, it had to be tended, coaxed and fed lest it a) falter or b) explode.

Not everyone can be an engineer. We can read how-tos, and feel good about taking the levers, but ultimately the pop-guides are written to take us in circles to the next self-help over-simplification.

Likewise, not everyone can understand economic theory. We like to apply our bookkeeping common sense, our coupon-clipping savvy, and Nike GTD ethic to the federal budget: just balance it, but spreading greater prosperity is much more complicated than that. Try conducting even domestic trading with “neither a borrower nor a lender be.”

That’s why we elect administrators, that’s why we make them give big speeches to demonstrate their competence. We know we want smart people to be in charge. You’d think that concern would be intuitive, but we have learned it to be otherwise.

Evidently we need at the very least to be taught in our schools that our leaders must have more than the common sense of our drinking buddies. Our educational system must keep citizens up to speed to appreciate that governance is a demanding task. We don’t need to know the complexities, but we need to know enough to tell buffoons like Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, and Sean Hannity that their homespun drivel is for uneducated morons.

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