Expertise Matters

I think Chris Bowers makes a lot of good points here about the offensive, unwarranted, counterproductive tone of sneering contempt and bullying that bailout proponents have had for opponents and the American public. But he follows that up with a very bad point:

Besides, if there is one subject where everyone in America is something of an expert, it is the economy. Everyone is forced to live in it, everyday, and so we all have on the job training and experience in how it works.

That’s just bullshit. We all live our lives subject to the laws of physics, but that doesn’t mean that we all pick up intuitive understanding of how physics operates. In fact, just the reverse. Our personal experience of the operation of gravity, air resistance, friction, etc. is deeply misleading and leads to all kinds of wrong folk-physics notions about heavier objects falling faster than light ones. Similarly, most people in their personal lives aren’t aware of making any dramatic decisions based on small changes in interest rates. Therefore, they may conclude that small across-the-board changes in interest rates couldn’t possibly have dramatic impact on their lives. And yet, anyone who thinks that is wrong. But to see that that’s wrong, you need to acquire some expertise in the subject.

I think some populism is very much a good thing, but this kind of “who needs experts?” thinking is, I think, best left to the conservatives who’ve managed to run the country into the ground by using it as a guiding philosophy.