One of the stranger things about the modern age, is watching people in the media discuss topics, as if they are experts, despite the fact they know very little about the subject. The recent “hacking” stories are a great example. Day after day, people who struggle to remember their ATM PIN, went on at length about the details of computer trespass. Of course, these nitwits know nothing about technology, but they were sure super villains from the FSB were secretly gaining access to the computers of the Democrats.
The people “reporting” on this story are not just ignorant about the topic. They think they know lots of things that are hilariously wrong because they get all of their information from television. They keep using the word “hacking”, for example, because they see it used on TV crime shows, along with the scruffy looking slackers, sitting in front of multiple monitors as they gain access to top secret computers. It is the Dunning-Kruger effect or perhaps the Charles Bukowski effect, if that’s your inclination.
The pseudo-intellectual poser has become a feature of our mass media culture. David Brooks, at the New York Times, is a good example of the type. According to his biography he has no math or science, not even a familiarity with economics, but he writes stuff like this anyway.
Believe it or not, we’re not really going to have to spend the next four years wading through wonky drudgery of Russian spy dossiers and hotel sex cameras. At some point we’re going to have a thrilling debate over the most scintillating question in health care policy.
The Republicans are going to try to replace Obamacare. They’re probably going to agree to cover everybody Obama covered, thus essentially granting the Democratic point that health care is a right. But they are going to try to do it using more market-friendly mechanisms.
As you know, the American health care system is not like a normal market. When you make most health care decisions you don’t get much information on comparative cost and quality; the personal bill you get is only vaguely related to the services; the expense is often determined by how many procedures are done, not whether the problem is fixed.
You wouldn’t buy a phone this way.
The Republicans are going to try to introduce more normal market incentives into the process. They are probably going to rely on refundable tax credits and health savings accounts so everybody can afford to shop for their own insurance and care.
As soon as the phrase “market incentives” comes up, you know that there is no existing market. This is phrase cooked up by managerial class types so they can engage in central planning, but pretend they have respect for free markets. Incentives are synthetic creations to get people to do things they otherwise would not do. If you want a market, you don’t want central planners dreaming up incentives to warp the market. What would be the point? You want the buyers and sellers to sort things out among themselves.
Pseudo-intellectual posers like Brooks don’t understand this because he does not have the slightest idea how any of it works, but he is willing to expound on just about everything as if he is an expert. That’s a problem we have in the mass media age. The alleged experts that citizens rely on for opinions, spend all their time filling the air with laughable nonsense. In health care, for example, most Americans not only think it is a right, they think it is a product that should never be rationed. This is compete lunacy, but you can’t blame people for thinking it. All the “smart” people say it on television.
All goods and services are rationed. The question with health care is how is it to be rationed. Will it be by price or by a monopoly of supply? Progressives want the latter so that their coreligionists on the health care boards can murder enemies of the faith by denying them health care. The alternative should be arguments in favor of free markets, but instead we get magical thinking from guys passed off to us a conservatives by the mass media. The result is an increasingly misinformed public.
The assumption at the dawn of the communication age was that the free flow of information, and the explosion of new media, would make for better informed citizens. The result seems to be the opposite. Middle-brow intellectuals, who used to serve the middle-class, are now just pseudo-intellectual dufuses. Their game is not to inform, but to strike the appropriate pose so their readers can have their beliefs validated. One sure way to get rich in this age is to be a media guy who is wrong all the time.
Idiotizing the general public is not necessarily a society killing act, but the people who rule over us appear to be getting drunk off the fumes. Paul Ryan is allegedly the smartest policy wonk in Washington. Yet, he is running around with his own ten thousand page bill he says will make health care free for everyone. We have our spy agencies pretending to investigate Russian hacking because President Camacho is demanding it. There is a limit to how much nonsense a society can believe. We seem to be bumping against that limit.