Phi Beta Cons

Walter Williams on the Plague of Grubers

With Thanksgiving Day on the horizon, perhaps we should express our thanks to MIT professor Jonathan Gruber for so clearly revealing the way the academic elite actually thinks about their role — that of doing whatever it takes to make Americans go along with their plans for perfecting society. In that vein, Walter Williams has a wonderful piece today entitled “Elite Contempt for Ordinary Americans.”

Williams, professor of economics at George Mason University, writes, “One little-noticed feature of Gruber’s speeches was the type of place where he felt comfortable talking about the use of deception and mocking American intelligence. His speeches took place at the University of Pennsylvania, Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Rhode Island. Universities are home to the academic elite — people who believe that they have more intelligence than and superior wisdom to the masses. They believe they have been ordained to forcibly impose that wisdom on the rest of us. Gruber and his fellow academic elite have what they consider to be good reasons for restricting the freedom of others. But every tyrant who has ever lived has had what he considered good reasons.”

One of the most annoying features of Gruber’s talks was the way he breezily dismissed doubts about and criticism of his handiwork, as if he had considered everything and knew with utter certainty that his plan was ideal. That’s the kind of attitude we so often see among cloistered academics (although it isn’t unique to them) who will never suffer any of the adverse consequences of their meddling with society. The men who drafted the Constitution probably had some inkling that if government were given too much authority, it will fall under the sway of people like Gruber and for that reason attempted to keep the government out of most of life. Medical care would today be much better if we had not allowed the feds to start trying to improve it. Same for education, housing, and many other aspects of life. The unhappy fact that so much of our lives is now subject to politics gives academic know-it-alls like Gruber dangerous power.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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