Those Who Fail to Learn From History Make Policy

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

Americans have long been victimized by wrong-headed academic influences in government.

Nearly half of President Barack Obama’s appointed decision-makers hold Ivy League degrees. More have advanced degrees from Oxford University than from American public universities.

For years, liberal faculties at American colleges and universities and self-identified "intellectual" graduates they’ve indoctrinated have infiltrated government, tackling policy much as it is practiced in faculty lounges.

They hold the mistaken belief that learning about something is the same as doing it, while dismissing the possibility that things they’ve taught, thought and learned could be wrong.

Lifetime tenure guarantees that, other than the occasional bruised ego, there’s little at stake in faculty lounges.

But exporting that academic mindset to the public arena has caused problems for everyone — including many who graduated and prospered in the private sector after shedding the liberal baggage dispensed by most institutions.

The real world isn’t an insular faculty lounge, an academic exercise or a lab experiment. It’s inhabited by billions of people each of whom, daily, makes dozens of large and small personal decisions which affect their — and families’ — chances to survive in an indifferent world.

But the world is no more indifferent to them than are arrogant progressive academics and their "intellectual" progeny who profess knowledge sufficient to make decisions for and set policy affecting everyone.

The modern notion of progressive intellectual political hegemony began with President Woodrow Wilson, Ph.D., a partisan Virginia Democrat, the first post-Civil War Southerner to win the White House, former professor at and president of Princeton University — and the first American president to reject the Founders’ principles.

In his book "The Founders’ Key," Larry Arnn wrote: "Woodrow Wilson said that (the U.S. Constitution) was obsolete, written for an age that believed in the theories of Isaac Newton, and regarded government as a mechanism. That age, Wilson believed, was now superseded by Darwin and the theory of evolution, which allows us to see that ‘government is a living organism, one that must change over time.’"

Wilson’s antipathy to America’s founding principles and his fiscal policies helped to create the little-remembered Depression of 1920-21, an economic downturn reversed by the austerity imposed by Wilson’s successors, Presidents Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge.

From 1920 to 1922, Harding cut the federal budget 48 percent, and Coolidge continued Harding’s fiscal prudence. Together, Harding and Coolidge produced nine years of budget surpluses and the world’s best post-war national economy.
But, until 2009, the greatest example of academic-inspired government disasters was engineered by Franklin Roosevelt’s Depression-era academic appointees, the "Brain Trust."

Beginning as a recession, the Great Depression was deepened and prolonged by Brain Trust policies.

Other than the Trust’s natural instincts to impose recovery-destroying tax increases and follow the misguided Keynesian admonition to spend indiscriminately, the New Deal had no guiding economic principle.
When asked to describe the political and philosophical underpinnings of FDR’s approach to government, Raymond Moley, a member of FDR’s Brain Trust, cited "pragmatism."
In fact, the theme of FDR’s governing philosophy, as incessantly parroted by his Brain Trust, was "experimentalism."

Historian Eric Goldman wrote "(FDR) trusted no system except the system of endless experimentation."

FDR himself made the point repeatedly: "This country needs bold, persistent experimentation … above all, try something."

FDR and his Brain Trust tried nearly everything — except the right things.
Disregarding history and the successful common-sense policies of Harding and Coolidge, FDR and his highly credentialed but inexperienced, inept Brain Trust approached governance like a campus lab class. They experimented — tinkered, really — with America, and failed.

The unwitting irony in modern progressivism’s sense of political 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.

In reality, obstinately and anti-pragmatically, American liberals cling to the reactionary "ideals" of FDR’s 80-year old New Deal despite the evidence of its faults; despite the demographic, financial and actuarial unsustainability of its social legacy; and despite the failure of the Obama administration’s tax, spending and social policies that mimic the New Deal.

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." – George Santayana