Navel gazing accomplished, let me turn back to my more substantive objections to the Murray op-ed. Here's Megan McArdle:
Elites are often missing crucial knowledge, and unaware of it. In some ways, that effect is more pronounced than it used to be, with more and more of the elites drawn from a narrow class of extremely well-educated people from a handful of metropolitan areas, few of whom have ever, say, been responsible for a profit and loss statement, or tried to bring a gas station into compliance with local and federal EPA regulations. In a world where your primary output is words, it is easy to imagine a smoothly operating process based on really smart rule-making. And there's a certain impatience with the grimy, self interested folks who complain about the regulations imposed for the good of society--a certain forgetting that in aggregate, those whiners are society. In essence, elites are always missing one vital piece of information: what it is like to be someone who is not in the elite.
Well, yes, but there are avenues other than personal experience of figuring out why excessive regulation of small businesses is bad. I've never been responsible for a profit and loss statement either, and I've never tried to bring a gas station into compliance with EPA regulations either. I've never met McArdle, but I've read her blog for a couple of years now, and from I've read about her life, it doesn't sound like she has either. But she and I have each figured this out because, well, we've read things. Books are powerful. Books can work!
Note that misconceptions about economics that likely lead people to favor increased regulation appear to be quite common outside of the so-called New Class as well. The professor whose research described is at SUNY Oswego; while its students are probably a more privileged group than Americans overall, they are likely only an elite in a much broader sense than McArdle or Murray means the term. In the Bryan Caplan paper to which Tabarrok links, the (presumably more elitely educated) economists come out with pro-small-government views more congenial to the typical Tea Partier than the non-economists. All of this indicates that what libertarians and limited government types ought to be doing is showing elites relevant facts, rather than encouraging them to socialize more with the white working class.
It was painfully silly when Barack Obama pushed for "empathetic" Supreme Court justices. Conservatives ridiculed him for it, and while I confess it got physically painful to read them piling on about it after a while, they were mostly right. So it's disappointing to read Murray et al. arguing that we need empathy to understand the plight of the small business burdened by Obamacare. These disputes can be sorted out without recourse to all of this emotion, thank you very much.
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