Academics in Government: Recycling History’s Failures

Member Group : Jerry Shenk

“There is usually only a limited amount of damage that can be done by dull or stupid people. For creating a truly monumental disaster, you need people with high IQs.” – Thomas Sowell

For years, liberal university professors, administrators and indoctrinated “intellectual” graduates have infiltrated government and media, tackling politics and policy as they’re practiced on campus, acting in the mistaken belief that learning about things is the same as doing them, while dismissing the possibility that what they’ve taught, thought and learned may be wrong.

The stakes on campus are generally trivial, but exporting institutional attitudes into government can cause nontrivial problems.

The real world isn’t a faculty lounge, academic exercise or lab experiment. The world is inhabited by billions of real people whose trillions of large and small daily personal decisions affect individuals’ and families’ chances to survive in an indifferent world. But the world is no more indifferent to them than are arrogant academics and their “intellectual” progeny who imagine themselves to be sufficiently knowledgeable to make decisions for and set policy affecting everyone.

Americans have long been victimized by academic influences in government. The notion of liberal intellectual/political hegemony began with the administration of President Woodrow Wilson (1913-21), progressive Virginia Democrat, overt racist, Ph.D., professor at and president of Princeton University – and the first president to reject America’s founding principles.

Preferring a “living organism” that changed over time, President Wilson considered the U.S. Constitution, as written, to be obsolete. Apparently, Wilson was unaware of or, at least, impatient with the constitutional amendment process.

But, until 2009, the greatest examples of academic-inspired government disasters were engineered by President Franklin Roosevelt’s Depression-era academic appointees, the “Brain Trust.” The theme of FDR’s governing philosophy was “experimentalism.” FDR and his highly-credentialed Brain Trust approached governance like a campus lab class. They experimented constantly – tinkered, really – and failed.

The Great Depression began as a recession, escalated to full depression by Brain Trust policies that deepened and prolonged it. Other than the Brain Trust’s natural instincts to impose recovery-destroying tax increases and follow the misguided Keynesian admonition to spend indiscriminately, there was no fundamental economic principle guiding FDR’s New Deal.

The unwitting irony in modern progressivism’s unearned sense of superiority is that, like Wilson, FDR and his Brain Trust whom they still celebrate, American liberals imagine themselves to be intellectuals who embrace change and reject dogmatic adherence to the past.

Obstinately and anti-pragmatically, though, American liberals still cling to the “ideals” of FDR’s 87-year old New Deal – despite the evidence of its faults, despite its demographic, regulatory and fiscal failures, despite the actuarial unsustainability of its social legacy, despite the failures of the Obama administration’s New Deal-mimicking tax, spending and social policies, and despite ample evidence of the current administration’s economic successes.

Ironically, by embracing socialism, a scourge that’s failed everywhere, open borders, and forgiving student loan debt, among other schemes, progressive academics, media and the politicians they influence have inadvertently normalized a president whom they’ve caricaturized and ridiculed for two-plus years.