Elitism, When Convenient

by Don Boudreaux on July 14, 2009

in Nanny State

In yesterday's Washington Post, Peter Wallison rightly
challenges the Obama administration's conclusion that ordinary
Americans lack the capacity to understand complex financial instruments
– an incapacity so overpowering that even full disclosure by sellers of
these instruments is insufficient to ensure that the typical person can
be trusted to choose whether or not to invest in such instruments.

But let's
accept, for argument's sake, the administration's judgment that
ordinary Americans can't adequately assess complexity.  Doesn't it then
follow that Americans' election of Mr. Obama to high office deserves no
credit?  After all, isn't the task of assessing the merit of one
person's ideas on economics, foreign affairs, ethics, law, and other
difficult topics extraordinarily complex?  Given that Joe Six-Pack and
Jane Soap-Opera cannot be trusted with the relatively straightforward
task of sensibly investing their own money, how can they be trusted to
meet the far more complex challenge of choosing powerful national


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