Explicable and Inexplicable Ignorance

by Don Boudreaux on October 20, 2020

in Economics, Politics, Seen and Unseen, Standard of Living

In my latest column for AIER, I distinguish explicable ignorance from inexplicable ignorance. A slice:

Equally inexplicable is the widespread trust that people put in politicians. How, for example, can anyone who watched senators questioning Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett come away with an impression other than that these elected officials – Democrats and Republicans alike – are either stupendously stupid or monstrously Machiavellian?

Or consider this report by Peggy Noonan on a recent exchange between the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, and CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer; the subject was yet another proposed covid-19 “stimulus” bill:

He [Blitzer] said it’s not about him but people in food lines. Mrs. Pelosi: “And we represent them. And we represent them. And we represent them. And we represent them. We know them. We represent them and we know them. We know them. We represent them.” “Thank you for your sensitivity to our constituents’ needs.”

“I am sensitive to them because I see them on the street begging for food,” Mr. Blitzer said.

Mrs. Pelosi: “Have you fed them? We feed them.”

Nancy Pelosi presides over a chamber of politicians who vote on taxing and spending bills that transfer money from some Americans to other Americans – a fact that (inexplicably!) propels Ms. Pelosi to boast that she and her colleagues, not taxpayers such as Mr. Blitzer, feed poor Americans. On top of this appalling pretension, Ms. Pelosi expects CNN’s audience to believe that she and her Congressional colleagues “know” poor Americans in a way that non-politicians don’t.

As Peggy Noonan wrote about this interview, “It was bonkers.”

And yet most people continue to defer to people such as Pelosi … and to Trump, and Biden, and Cuomo, and Newsom, and to other such people, in Washington and in state capitals, who routinely parade in plain view their raw ambition, their delusions of possessing supernatural powers, and their lack of ordinary human decency.

Inexplicably, though, countless Americans demand that such untrustworthy people be given even more power. These Americans remain blind to the reality that power, once created, is inevitably seized by such people. This blindness is not merely inexplicable, but also fatal.


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