The attitudes and opinions of today’s so-called “elites” – those former public figures whom Deidre McCloskey called “clarisi” – are childish. Most journalists and writers work for most of the premier media and entertainment organizations, with most professors and public intellectuals thinking, speaking and writing about society through the insights of kindergarteners.
This sad truth is obscured by a feature that distinguishes clarity from young children: verbal qualities. Yet beneath subtle words, beautiful phrases, stuck metaphors, and influenced hints have a significant immaturity of thought. Every social and economic problem is believed to have a solution and that solution is almost always excessive.
Unlike children, adults understand that living well begins with the inability to trade-offs. Contrary to what you’ve heard, you “can’t get everything.” You cannot have more of this thing unless you are willing to keep the other thing less. And what is true for you as an individual is true for any group of individuals. We Americans cannot artificially increase the cost of producing and using carbon fuels to our government unless we are willing to pay higher prices at the pump and, thus, have less income to spend on acquiring other products and services. We cannot use the creation of money today to alleviate the pain of the Kovid lockdown without enduring the greater pain of inflation tomorrow.
When children face the need to trade-off their small legs in protest, the need for trade-off must be accepted by adults.
No less important, adults, unlike children, are not deceived by the surface.
Pay close attention to how Clarice (who is mostly, though not exclusively, progressive) offers a ‘solution’ to almost any real or imagined problem. You will discover that the proposed ‘solution’ is excessive; It is implicitly assumed that social realities that do not exist beyond what can be immediately observed or are not affected by attempts to rearrange surface phenomena. In Clarice’s view, the only reality that matters is the reality that is easily seen and seemingly easy to use by force. Clarice’s proposed ‘solution,’ therefore, involves simply trying to rearrange or rearrange surface events.
Do some people use guns to kill other people? Yes, sad. The ‘solution’ to this superficial problem of clarity is to ban guns. Do some people have a higher financial value than others? Yes. Clarice’s teenage ‘solution’ to this counterfeit problem is to impose heavy taxes on the rich and pass on the income to the less fortunate. Are some workers paid less to support a family in modern America? Yes. The simplified ‘solution’ to this fake problem – “fake” because most low-wage workers are not heads of households – is to ban the government from paying certain minimum wages.
Do hurricanes, droughts, and severe weather cause significant property damage or even loss of life? Yes. The lazy ‘solution’ to this real problem is a component, focusing on climate change by reducing carbon emissions, which is now (a little too simply) heavily believed to determine the weather.
Do the prices of many ‘essential’ goods and services rise significantly in the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster? Yes. Clarity’s counterproductive ‘solutions’, “counterproductive” and “counterfeit” to this counterfeit problem because these high values accurately reflect and signal the underlying economic realities, prohibiting these high price charges and payments. When inflationary pressures are created due to excessive economic growth, do these pressures flow in the form of rising prices? Yes really. Clarice’s childish ‘solution’ to the real problem of inflation is to blame greed for raising taxes on profits.
Is SARS-CoV-2 virus contagious and potentially dangerous to humans? Yes. The simple-minded ‘solution’ to this real problem is to prevent people from mixing with each other by force.
Many Americans still do not receive the minimum acceptable standard of K-12 schooling? Yes. The lazy ‘solution’ to this real problem is to increase teachers ’salaries and spend more money on school administrators.
Would some American workers lose their jobs if American consumers bought more imports? Yes. Clarice’s’ solution ‘is to disrupt consumers’ ability to buy imports. Are some people obsessed with bigotry and irrational dislike or fear of black, homosexual, lesbian and bisexual? Yes. The ‘solution’ to this real problem is to ban “hate” and force fanatics to act as if they were not fanatics.
Do many people who are eligible to vote in political elections abstain from voting? Yes. The ‘solution’ to this fake problem, at least by some clergymen – is ‘fake’ because in a free society everyone has the right to abstain from participating in politics – to make voting compulsory.
Simplified real and imagined problems and the list of ‘solutions’ above can be easily extended.
Clarice, the wrong word for reality, assumes that the success of verbally describing realities to their liking proves that these imaginary realities can only be realized by rearranging relevant surface events. Members of Clarice ignore the unintended consequences. And they ignore the fact that many of the social and economic realities that they hate are not the result of villains or correctable imperfections, but the result of complex trades created by countless individuals.
Social engineering seems to be possible only for those people who, seeing only a comparatively few surface phenomena, become blind to the amazing complexity that always churns beneath the surface to create those surface phenomena. To such individuals, social reality appears like a child: a desire that inspires manipulators to achieve something easily and easily.
Clarice’s posts are filled with irresistibly simple-minded people who misinterpret their joy and misrepresent their good intentions for serious thinking. They show the presence of deep thinkers to each other, and to the undoubted public, when the kindergarteners rarely think with more sophistication and subtlety than they do every day in the classroom.