Much of what Noemie Emery writes about the tyranny of the experts-- the intellectual clerisy-- has been said before.
And yet, her statement is so well expressed, so clear, so concise and so manifestly correct that it deserves special mention.
Profiting from a financial crisis and from years of agitprop that had convinced the nation that voting against Barack Obama was proof of racism, the intellectual elites used Obama as an instrument to impose their will and their vision on America.
As Ford used to say, they had what they were convinced was a better idea.
In February 2010, in the midst of the row over Obamacare’s passage, 80 highly credentialed experts in health care, graduates of and teachers in the best schools in the country, sent an open letter to the president and the leaders of Congress insisting the bill be passed. The Affordable Care Act, they maintained, would “cover more than 30 million people who would otherwise have gone uninsured. . . . Provide financial help to make coverage for millions of working families. . . . Strengthen competition and oversight of private insurance. . . . Provide unprecedented protection for Americans living with chronic illness and disabilities. . . . Make significant investments in community health centers, prevention, and wellness. . . . Increase financial support to states to finance expanded Medicaid insurance coverage, eliminate the Medicare prescription drug donut hole . . . provide a platform to improve the quality of the health care system . . . [and] reduce the federal budget deficit over the next ten years and beyond.”
Ignoring experience, disdaining the marketplace and the people, the experts-- like Plato’s guardian class-- imposed their superior wisdom on the nation:
The Affordable Care Act looked for advice to academics, not governors, and proposed the state takeover of an industrial complex responsible for one-sixth of the gross national product based not on what had been proved to work through experience, but on what some intellectuals had guessed might work. If a camel is a horse designed by a committee, this camel was a 2,801-page non-bestseller filled with labyrinthine riddles that nobody seemed to know how to solve. To insure approximately 18 million out of 300-plus million Americans (they confessed the plan would still leave 20 million uninsured), they proposed to spend trillions on a reengineering of the entire system that would in time cause 80 to 100 million of the currently insured to lose and to seek new insurance.
How badly did the experts miscalculate? Very badly, indeed. In fact, theirs was nothing but a tissue of miscalculations based on a fabric of mistaken predictions. Redoing the private market was far beyond their vision:
Apparently, the possibility that the agencies that these experts assumed would coordinate easily with the new health insurance bureaucracy and with each other would not in reality be able to do so did not occur to the experts. They planned to move millions upon millions of people from one set of doctors and networks to new ones heedless of the fact that people form relations of trust with their doctors and would resist losing them. They imposed health-insurance mandates on companies that employed 50 or more people with little consideration that this might apply a strong brake to the expansion of businesses and move millions of people into part-time employment. They levied taxes on companies that manufactured the medical devices that improved and saved lives, with no idea this would lead to fewer inventions. They heaped new levels of regulation and paperwork onto the shoulders of doctors and hospitals, with no idea that this would lead many to think about early retirement. When the practical effects of their theories ran into the realities of human nature, the market, and the political imperative to appease constituents, the result was a blizzard of waivers, exemptions, and extensions of deadlines. At this point, there is barely a deadline that has not been erased or extended, a rule that hasn’t been excised or rewritten to make its impact less lethal, and even the most frantic of changes hasn’t made the system work well.
When reality came calling, the gauzy ideas of the experts looked like a Big Lie:
Parents found they could not take sick children to the same hospitals they had used before. People with complex chronic conditions found that the teams of doctors who had worked together to treat them had been broken up. For the people who had been insured through the individual market the elites had little compassion. Cancer patients who took their complaints to the press (and to the Republicans) were “fact checked” and then viciously attacked by the Democrats, among them Harry Reid, who called them all liars.