September 15, 2009
Why Eggheads Shouldn't be Running ThingsBy Andie Brownlow
Philosophers and career-thinkers from academia have a place. I can appreciate their zeal and gift for boundless thought. I can even realize that some of their ideas may shape our future for the better. I draw the line however, at giving them stewardship or power over policies that directly affect the country. Policies should come from practical, time tested sources, not radical ideas from people whose purpose is to think of new ways of doing things.
Thinkers are mostly just that -- thinkers, not doers. There is a huge gap of scrutiny and trial & error before an idea should be implemented as policy. This is why our "czars" should not be plucked from a lifetime spent in universities to implement their untested ideas on a national level. (I don't think we should have any czars, but that's a topic for another time.)
Making government policy from radical, unfiltered, untested ideas turns citizens into guinea pigs and puts the country at high risk for destabilization and other unpredictable consequences.
Part of what allows academia to produce radical ideas is the absence of failure. Their ideas are rarely applied to real world problems. You don't have to "go back to the drawing board" unless you have a reason to do so.
Academia isn't a mill for practical solutions. It is intended as an environment for expanding thought to open the mind to new possibilities unbridled by law, ethics, morality, practicality and other elements of civilized society. "Eggheads" in academia are on the far side of the spectrum from those who should make policy to govern.
By the same token, it is beyond reasonable explanation to allow those from academia, with half-baked, untested ideas, to implement those ideas from a position of authority in our country. Yet they are allowed via the role of czars in our government. Not all of the 36+ czars in Obama's cabinet are from academia, but the ones who are can do significant damage to our nation.
We don't really care how many Ph.D.s our elected officials have, but we do want to know how well they perform under pressure, what real-world experience they have and how confident they are in leading. We want our leaders to have common sense and reflect the values and traditions of our nation.
What's the point of even assessing the qualifications of politicians to be our leaders if they're only going to delegate their responsibilities to people with none of those qualities?
Take Cass Sunstein, our new Regulatory Czar. He's not really interested in the status quo, and was not hired to maintain it. He was chosen because he has radical, new ideas. Is he part of the "change" we were promised? Do we want someone with extreme views on hunting, gun rights or animal rights in a position of authority in our country?
What impact will this man's radical thoughts have on our economy, culture and freedom if he was to apply his radical personal views to our laws and policies? Sure, he said he'd respect the laws, but said nothing about his goals to change or "nudge" those laws to conform to his way of thinking.
What about John Holdren, the new Science Czar, and his ideas of forced sterilization? There is a line between radical ideas and those that should never have been uttered in the midst of a free society to be taken seriously. Someone this far removed from reality and compassion for humanity have no business whatsoever in a position of making policy for an entire nation.
We have made a mistake in believing intelligence has anything to do with one's capacity for unique thought. We think that those in academia know more than we do simply because we're too sane to be distracted and obsessed with wild flights of fancy.
I, and probably most other Americans, consider real intelligence to be akin to the ability to problem solve and think ‘outside the box' with outcomes resulting in realistic solutions. Anything else is just pondering & creativity. Some have more capacity for intellect than others, but high levels of skill or creativity is talent, and not necessarily a sign of higher intellect.
We seem to have a problem of telling the Emperor that he has no clothes. Just because someone has a really unique idea doesn't mean that it's a good idea. In fact, "unique", "interesting" and "thoughtful" are code words for, "WHAT?!" They're what we say when we don't want to insult someone, or that we just don't follow the line of their logic. I think we should check "saving face" at the door when someone wants to tinker with the fundamentals of our country.
Academia creates new ideas. Standards in morality, ethics, law, practicality, etc. scrutinize and filter out unworkable ideas. Trial and error over time find the best ideas and policy makers implement the resulting ideas. No step in this process should be skipped. Expediting the process from idea-creation to implementation is unwise at best and catastrophic at worst.
Andie Brownlow blogs at andiebrownlow.com