Monday, October 17, 2016

Technocrats To The Rescue!

Or Not!
“nothing would be more fatal than for the Government of States to get in the hands of experts. Expert knowledge is limited knowledge, and the unlimited ignorance of the plain man who knows where it hurts is a safer guide than any rigorous direction of a specialized character.” - Winston S. Churchill    
Churchill was an avid fan of H.G. Wells, but he disagreed with Wells about humanities ability to adapt to rapidly developing technologies. Churchill felt that the generalist was much better able to determine the use of technology and run government than the focused technocrat. Wells favored the later. (Churchill's Bomb by Graham Farmelo)

In pop culture, especially in the 1950s science-fiction genre, the technocrats were seen as the saviors of the world. In the 1951 version of the "Day the Earth Stood Still," the alien Klaatu calls for a meeting of scientists, since world leaders would be impossible to assemble.

It seems nice to look to the experts on a topic to help solve a problem. But a problem arises, when one may think the expert on how to make a bomb or use a bomb is the right expert on when to use a bomb.

Robert Oppenheimer seems like a nice person to turn to, but his reservations about the nuclear weapons fell on deaf ears. And his reservations came after nuclear weapons were a reality. His discomfort with the use of nuclear weapons did not come with a convincing political argument, AND he possibly was revisionist with his timeline for concern over the bomb. (Wikipedia)

On the flip side, a generalist must be informed to make good laws. Even if he turns over all the details to bureaucrats and techocrats (which I think is a very bad idea), the lawmakers needs to, at the minimum, be able to articulate what he is trying to do while having a firm grasp on the facts.

U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette decided to exercise her God-given authority to rule us all by pushing for legislation to ban highstandard-capacity magazines. Either Rep. DeGette's knowledge is flat wrong, or it is limited to the original 20-round M16 magazine.

"I will tell you these are ammunition, they're bullets, so the people who have those now they're going to shoot them, so if you ban them in the future, the number of these high capacity magazines is going to decrease dramatically over time because the bullets will have been shot and there won't be any more available." - U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO)
For some reason, our political system has descended into a reliance on experts that is so debilitating that our elected officials can't even direct them in an informed manner. This calls into question the direction of our huge bureaucracies - and not just the federal ones. This calls into question the ability of people to rule over us who's only qualifications are popularity.

And this is only one more example government should not be trying to control every minute part of our lives.

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