Jonathan Gruber, MIT economist and paid architect of Obamacare, has shocked and disgusted many Americans. In 2013, he explained to a University of Pennsylvania audience: “This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure (the Congressional Budget Office) did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies.” He added that the “lack of transparency is a huge political advantage.” Most insulting were his previous statements that “the American voter is too stupid to understand” and his boast of Obamacare’s “exploitation of the lack of economic understanding of the American voter.”
We recall that back in 2010, then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi infamously said, “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.” That comment was just as insightful as her response to a CNSNews.com reporter who asked, “Madam Speaker, where specifically does the Constitution grant Congress the authority to enact an individual health insurance mandate?” Unable to respond intelligently, Speaker Pelosi gave her best political response: “Are you serious? Are you serious?” When asked recently about Gruber, Pelosi said: “I don’t know who he is. He didn’t help write our bill.” She was quickly caught in a lie because during the 2009 health care debate, she mentioned Gruber’s analysis at a news conference.
One little-noticed feature of Gruber’s speeches was the type of place where he felt comfortable talking about the use of deception and mocking American intelligence. His speeches took place at the University of Pennsylvania, Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Rhode Island. Universities are home to the academic elite — people who believe they have more intelligence than and superior wisdom to the masses. They believe they have been ordained to forcibly impose that wisdom on the rest of us. Gruber and his fellow academic elite have what they consider to be good reasons for restricting the freedom of others. But every tyrant who has ever lived has had what he considered good reasons.
America’s elite found on university campuses, in news media and in political office are chief supporters of reduced private property rights and reduced rights to profits, and they are anti-competition and pro-monopoly.
They are pro-control and coercion by the state. Their plan requires the elimination or attenuation of the free market and what is implied by it — voluntary exchange. Their reasoning is simple. Tyrants do not trust that people acting voluntarily will do what the tyrants think they should do. Therefore, tyrants want to replace the market and voluntary exchange with economic planning. Economic planning is nothing more than the forcible superseding of other people’s plans by the powerful elite backed up by the brute force of government.
In a 1991 speech, Yale University President Benno Schmidt warned: “The most serious problems of freedom of expression in our society today exist on our campuses. The assumption seems to be that the purpose of education is to induce correct opinion rather than to search for wisdom and to liberate the mind.” I watched the videos of Gruber’s speeches. Academics raised little concern as to either the dishonesty of Obamacare or the claim that Americans were too stupid to understand.
A study by my George Mason University colleague Daniel B. Klein, along with Charlotta Stern of the Swedish Institute for Social Research, titled “Professors and Their Politics: The Policy Views of Social Scientists” (http://tinyurl.com/qxne3db) concluded: “The academic social sciences are pretty much a one-party system. Were the Democratic tent broad, the one-party system might have intellectual diversity. But the data show almost no diversity of opinion among the Democratic professors when it comes to the regulatory, redistributive state: they like it. Especially when it comes to the minimum wage, workplace-safety regulation, pharmaceutical regulation, environmental regulation, discrimination regulation, gun control, income redistribution, and public schooling.”
Focusing only on Professor Gruber’s arrogance, we ignore the more important fact that he is highly representative of the academic mindset — the people who are brainwashing our youngsters.
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Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University.