“Everybody knows that ordinary Americans are a bunch of idiots,” a Health and Human Services official told Benjamin Ginsberg. “Why do you need to do a survey to find that out?”
Actually, he was not surveying Americans for their IQs and knowledge levels. He was surveying Washington insiders. Like her.
She hadn’t been listening.
Ginsberg and co-author Jennifer Bachner have a new book out, What Washington Gets Wrong (2016). “We found that public officials,” Ginsberg told C-SPAN’s Brian Lamb last month, “the people who really govern this country . . . don’t think much of ordinary Americans.”
Surprise, surprise. This has been an “open secret” for some time. Washington insiders “are wealthier,” “better educated,” and “think ordinary Americans don’t really know very much.” More alarmingly, they think that the government should “not pay too much attention to what ordinary folks think.”
According to Ginsberg and Bachner, this has been a long time coming. Progressive Era reformers transformed government in an effort to make it less partisan.
They succeeded — only to make it less accountable and less . . . American.
In ancient times, great administrative states were run by eunuchs, men gelded to curb their appetites the better to serve their sovereigns (pharaohs; emperors; kings). Not their own interests.
Is it time to bring back the practice?
Just joking. Instead, Congress can tame the bureaucratic leviathan it has created by trimming its ranks and pulling back on pay and benefits until they’re more in line with the private sector.
Let’s hope the House’s recent passage* of the REINS Act, requiring congressional approval of major regulations, is a sign that Congress’s lackadaisical attitude about the bureaucracy is changing.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.
* Let’s hope the Senate follows suit.