This post was originally published on The Federalist.
In his seminal and controversial books “The Bell Curve” and “Coming Apart,” Charles Murray makes the compelling case that differences in intelligence between groups is creating a chasm between the rich and the poor that is only widening. In the modern age, the ability to critically think, read at an advanced level, and perform complex mathematics makes the difference between working in engineering, accounting, law, or the sandwich line at Subway.
This is not to say there isn’t worth in these non-intelligence-intensive fields. My father was a firefighter and although he didn’t have to perform calculus to do his job, the people he saved were likely eternally grateful either way. And, as Uncle Eddie in the hilarious TV show “Grounded for Life” once said, “If everyone could do anything they wanted, who would make the sandwiches?”
In all seriousness, however, the “intelligence gap” is a worsening problem that partially helps explain the rise of Donald Trump. In the book “Shattered,” Amie Parnes and Jonathan Allen quote Hillary Clinton aides who rave about Hillary’s policy “wonkiness” (a word only used in Washington DC). They detail how Hillary Clinton could have discussions for hours about the nuances of law and schemes to help “the children” or “women” (classic Hillary talking points). All of that sounds wonderful. Hillary acolytes who read that book I could barely get through might come out saying “she’s so smart, why on Earth isn’t she President?” They also unwittingly answer their own question.
Hillary Clinton’s plans, in reality, are Rube Goldberg machines. Rube Goldberg was a comic strip author who drew complex machines that accomplished a simple goal. For example a “self-operating napkin” (per Wikipedia) would operate as such:
“Soup spoon (A) is raised to mouth, pulling string (B) and thereby jerking ladle (C), which throws cracker (D) past parrot (E). Parrot jumps after cracker and perch (F) tilts, upsetting seeds (G) into pail (H). Extra weight in pail pulls cord (I), which opens and ignites lighter (J), setting off skyrocket (K), which causes sickle (L) to cut string (M), allowing pendulum with attached napkin to swing back and forth, thereby wiping chin”
Obamacare is a great example of a Rube Goldberg machine. Pre-existing conditions are required to be covered, therefore insurance companies will lose money on their coverage, therefore there needs to be an “individual mandate” for everyone, regardless of desire, to purchase coverage, and “risk corridors” are set up to essentially pay insurance companies for lost profits. That’s just one paragraph in a bill that spans 20,000 pages. Some might argue that all of those regulations are eminently necessary, because the self-operating napkin will not work otherwise. Others may retort that there’s an easier way to wipe one’s mouth.
One of the major issues with these regulatory schemes is that high-IQ people who love details (and are extraordinarily boring at parties) are too caught up with their own Rube Goldberg machines to see the obvious. It is reminiscent of the character of Lucifer in John Milton’s Paradise Lost. Lucifer (or Satan) is highly intelligent and rational (which explains why he is God’s highest angel). However, he is banished from God’s heavenly kingdom because he attempts an insurrection, as he believes himself to be as high as God. Rationality falls in love with its own creation and falls. Regulation creates unforeseen issues, which are papered over by more regulations. Eventually what we’re left with is a 20,000-page bill which is almost predestined to fail.
And it’s even more insidious than that. Due to the massively complex tax code, those who cannot navigate it (read: most Americans) must hire a professional to help them. These CPAs (of which I unfortunately count myself) and lawyers, high-IQ nitpicky people, take a hefty fee from the client and add no value whatsoever aside from avoiding legal ramifications. These folks who know the tax code or the relevant statues inside and out understand the logic behind it and generally believe in the cause. The client has no idea what’s going on and just got charged $10,000 to comply with the law. Those lawyers and CPAs then lobby the government for more complex regulations (which they profit in aiding compliance with) and the lawyers and CPAs in government oblige, because they too know the pedantic reasoning behind laws and the Goldbergian mechanisms which hold the whole thing together.
Thus, the cabal of high-IQ detail-oriented (obsessed) people essentially wage war against people of lower intelligence or lower levels of detail orientation. The people who do not hire overpriced lawyers and accountants are at the mercy of the intensely complex and unforgiving tax and legal systems. Building a business is almost impossible without thousands of dollars of help from a relevant professional.
People wonder why Donald Trump got elected. They wonder why Hillary Clinton, with all her plans and all her legislative agenda items, was so disliked by the general population. They wonder why people in the “ignorant” Midwest can’t just accept that Obamacare is a great solution. CPAs wonder why people can’t see why Dodd-Frank regulations are stifling lending and the formation of new banks and capital funds. People can’t see why forcing restaurants to display calorie information on their menus leaves a bad taste in the mouths of small-time one-store Domino’s Pizza owners, and why people like that aren’t just building new stores. They wonder why Bernie Sanders’ solution to a hair salon owner who couldn’t pay for the healthcare of her employees was that maybe she shouldn’t be in business to begin with if she was so woefully under-capitalized.
There’s a reckoning coming in this country, in which the election of Donald Trump may be the opening salvo. If these proud Lucifers refuse to see why their rational and well-thought-out plans fail, maybe they should open their eyes and understand that logic, rationality, and high IQs aren’t everything. Maybe those “dumb rednecks” have a valid point.
This post was originally published on The Federalist.