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August 06, 2010

Update 6: Brief Summer Book Hiatus With Excerpt From Chapter 2

As promised, below is another excerpt, this time from Chapter 2. I’m hoping to post an earlier promised chapter outline in the next few days, mainly because I really need to do a chapter outline.  You’d be surprised how important organization is when you’re writing something longer than a snarky five-paragraph blog post. 

Okay, I was surprised. Be that as it may:

Chapter 2

You Are Ignorant

“You Idiots!” – Cover of Rolling Stone1

Bill Maher, former comedian turned acerbic commentator on the human condition for HBO, wrote a piece in the Huffington Post entitled, “New Rule: Smart President ≠ Smart Country,”2 in which he calls America a “stupid country.”

Of course, he doesn’t mean to imply that all Americans are stupid, just the ones who aren’t him. 

By way of evidence he offers up polling data that found that two thirds of those surveyed lacked sufficient familiarity with Roe vs. Wade, seven in ten couldn’t properly identify the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, and two-thirds could not accurately describe the functions of the United States Food and Drug Administration.


These are things Bill Maher, knows of course.  That would be the same Bill Maher whose job it is to make witty observations on current affairs, public policy, and politics, and so (and I’m just winging it here) would probably benefit from being thoroughly conversant on subjects that include abortion rights, Janet Napolitano, and the FDA.

By Bill Maher’s standard “Joe the plumber” could just as easily note a survey in which two thirds of Americans lack sufficient familiarity with pipe brazing, seven in ten can’t identify a flaring tool, and two-thirds can’t accurately describe the functions of a spiral ratchet pipe reamer and similarly conclude that aside from himself, the country is full of drooling imbeciles.

Now, I would not mind it if more people took a greater interest in the political process and the functions of their government.  But then, I also wouldn’t mind if more people took a greater interest in bringing back “Xena, Warrior Princess,” but that might just be me.

And while there is no question that as the size and scope of government has grown, it has become increasingly important that people follow public policy more closely, we should appreciate that people who earn their living doing something other than critiquing American public policy initiatives might devote their limited time to honing skills and accumulating knowledge that is relevant to their line of work (never mind spending more time with their family or pursuing other hobbies and interests) as opposed to carefully reading the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

That’s my job.3

And it shouldn’t mean that people less familiar with the minutia of public policy don’t get a say.  Or, as Maher says towards the end of his piece, “And these are the idiots we want to weigh in on the minutia of health care policy?”

Apparently Bill Maher doesn’t want common people on the street carelessly passing judgment on a bill they haven’t read and don’t understand. He finds it far more preferable to have educated elites carelessly passing judgment on a bill they haven’t read and don’t understand.4

After all, who is better equipped to decide whether or not comprehensive health care reform is a good idea?  The people who will be most affected by it, or the people who know how to spell J-A-N-E-T N-A-P-O-L-I-T-A-N-O?...


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August 6, 2010 at 01:02 PM in Books | Permalink


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I don't know nuthin' 'bout no homeland stuff, but if she's the one what invented that 3-in-one ice cream then she should be in charge.

Posted by: Amarsir | Aug 7, 2010 5:43:59 PM

I might have to steal that.

Posted by: Planet Moron | Aug 7, 2010 7:47:22 PM

All yours if you want it.

The excerpts are looking good!

Posted by: Amarsir | Aug 9, 2010 1:49:48 AM

Despite Maher's good argument for better education, he ruins by insulting 83% of the country (comedians aren't the only ones who can make up statistics).

Posted by: Marty | Aug 9, 2010 5:03:09 AM

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