Monday, November 17, 2014

The Gospel According To Gruber

By Victor J. Ward

The truth is a wonderful thing. As Jesus once said, "The truth will set you free."

That's why I don't know why people care so much about the comments from MIT Economist Jonathan Gruber.

He said two things that seem to have gotten him into trouble:

1. The lack of transparency is a political advantage.

2. The typical American voter is stupid.

Both statements are 100% true.

Politicians routinely play the "hide the real agenda" card. And, if the real agenda needs to get out, the administration that is in power will release the partial truth on a Friday evening or on Christmas Eve or during some other moment when people are mesmerized by a shiny object.

The Obama administration has been masterful at creating a lack of transparency. But, they have been even more successful than other administrations because Obama painted himself as the most transparent president ever. This made people think that they were going to be one step ahead of the administration, but in fact, they were one step behind because of the administrations' duplicity. This means that the media and voters were and are actually two steps behind really understanding what this administration is doing and has done.

The lack of transparency has been a huge political advantage.

Gruber also insulted the average American voter and called them stupid. Is there any doubt that this is true? Either the voter has to admit that they don't know anything, or the voter has to admit that they are only a partisan hack that simply wants his/her team to win as if they were pulling for the San Francisco 49ers or Los Angeles Lakers.

Most people don't understand how Congress works. Most people don't understand the Federal Reserve. Most people don't know anything about executive orders. Most people don't understand that the United States is not supposed to be a democracy. Most people don't understand how welfare works. Most people don't understand the abuse of federal agencies and federal regulations. Most people don't understand taxes. Most people don't understand the difference between federal, state, and local governments.

Most voters don't know the difference between democrats and republicans. Or, better said, most voters don't know that there is no difference between democrats and republicans.

Gruber was simply saying what all politicians feel. Why else would politicians call taxes "revenue?" Why else would politicians use the vapid argument: "It's better to fight them over there than over here?" Why else would politicians blatantly lie to our face day after day? Just Google "Nancy Pelosi lie" or "Harry Reid lie" or "Mitch McConnell lie" or "George Bush lie."

Why would politicians like Jerry Brown, the Governor of California, say that wealthy people have "by whatever skill, disproportionately subtracted from the the wealth of the nation" and get away with that tripe?

As the old saying goes, "If you throw a rock into a pack of dogs, the one that yells is the one that got hit."

Gruber threw the rock and the American voter howled.

Victor J. Ward  first came across libertarianism by reading Murray Rothbard's Ronald Reagan: An Autopsy and Walter Block's Defending the Undefendable. He holds a law degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law and an MBA from Santa Clara University.


  1. Only 36 percent of Americans can name the three branches of government

    Someone tell me again, why is it that democracy is so wonderful?

    1. I read the other day that 18% of Americans polled believe the sun revolves around the earth, among other disheartening things:

      It's not just the fallacy that democracy is great and all these people should get an opportunity to vote/tell all of us what to do, it's that those elected by morons generally know how lacking a great % of the population is and inherently think because of it they are entitled to control everyone's lives as a result.

      It's sadly self reinforcing.

    2. Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.

      -H.L. Mencken

  2. The amount of knowledge has been growing exponentially for some time. No one, and I mean no one, is capable of knowing everything. I worked in a financial institution which served teachers. The staff was astounded at the lack of financial finesse of the teachers. These teachers were very smart in many things... just not everything. Being stupid vs uninformed or mislead are completely different animals. Leaders and their consultants, can't plead voter stupidity when they blatantly mislead and lie to them. The public had no opportunity to fact check (although those that did were silenced). Mr. Gruber did a wonderful thing by telling us the truth--- a bit late, but the confession of lying to obtain Obama-care will, perhaps, lead to a better program down the road. Hopefully one that is sustainable, like what we had before.

    1. Thanks for pointing this out Anonymous @ 11:43am. Right, knowledge is not enough. When you're playing a game where every piece of knowledge is manipulated and slight-of-handed it's not the stupidity of the American people: it's the fact that they are being misled. Getting facts straight requires effort and time. Take the JFK assassination as one instance. Whether Gruber's comments will lead to a better program, ah, from government . . . I am not holding my breath.

      Knowledge is not the only thing required for change. Courage is necessary. And perhaps, at least in government, Ron Paul has been the best example of holding government's feet to the fire. I personally don't like it when writers sling phrases like "Sheeple" or "the stupidity of the American people." I don't think Americans are stupid. On the contrary, they know government. They know politicians. It may be a case where writers feel that they are alone with their views and wish more people had or shared them. Instead of cursing the dark, light a candle. Thousands of them.

    2. A better "program" down the road would be no program. Herein lies the fallacy that you yourself fall for.

      Firstly, there is the true ignorance of what health "insurance" actually is. Insurance is a "causality" coverage based on specific events. Your premium is based on individual factors that are figured by actuarial math that determines how likely you are to require a payout. Health insurance is a pyramid scheme where the young and healthy subsidize the sick and old. You are 100% likely to get sick and use your "insurance." That means it isn't insurance. You are also going to overuse your health care because there isn't true market pricing and the pyramid scheme subsidization hides the costs because all the individual subscriber sees is a "co-pay" amount. The amount beyond the "co-pay" is the distortion from the true market price that is being subsidized by the people who pay for health care "insurance" but don't use it.

      Secondly, the reason "health care" came into being this way comes from another market distortion also created by the government called "wage controls." During WWII, President Roosevelt implemented these controls because conscripting (enslaving) men to kill for government purposes distorts the labor pool. Demand for labor increases because you've forced a whole lot of men to leave their jobs. As demand for labor increases without any supply increase, you get price increases. The prices for labor are called wages. This is a whole 'nother huge discussion about government seen / unseen impacts on prices, but the short story is that because business couldn't raise wages to keep their skilled employees nor attract new ones, they found ways to circumvent the law with what are now called "fringe benefits." These are so named because they were ruled as outside the wage and price controls by the Supreme Court, and therefore on the fringe of the law. One of those fringe benefits was having employers covering health care costs.

      It is not the market that causes these problems, it is the government trying to end-run the market and hide the true costs from the public. Until we stop doing that, we're going to have huge distortions that manifest in unpredictable ways. The history of health care is just one example of many.

    3. "It is not the market that causes these problems, it is the government trying to end-run the market and hide the true costs from the public. Until we stop doing that, we're going to have huge distortions that manifest in unpredictable ways. The history of health care is just one example of many." Couldn't agree more with you Cory. The challenge is that the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde characteristics of human nature won't let us "stop doing that." And I am not sure which is worse, Dr. Jekyll (the enabler) or Mr. Hyde (the sociopath).

    4. Well Brian that is the problem. This is the slippery slope of individualism vs. authoritarianism. Most people, rightfully so, take the easy way out. That is human nature. It becomes a chicken-egg scenario. Just like Thomas Jefferson thought, the further power goes away from the individual, the easier it is to subjugate the people. The more you depend on someone else to do it for you, the more you don't know how to do it for yourself, and you have to depend on your delegates to be truthful and altruistic. This is a dichotomy in and of itself. We are at the point now where we don't understand these fundamental truths that the founding fathers understood. The only way to get back there is through education.

  3. As you can tell, I do enjoy a good discussion but I recognize that it is nothing more than self indulgent entertainment. Even when a discussion is formalized as a lecture or written down in book form and labeled education it is still nothing more than words on a page. Ideas that have been floating around since man began to speak. Stories from our past, like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde or "the fundamental truths that the founding fathers understood" which can be entertaining and the telling can be a pleasant enough pastime and even rewarding when the story is embraced by an audience. But this is just singing to the choir not the conversion of the uninformed and certainly not a motivator of action. And only action can result in change. Recognizing that human nature and its dual/duel aspect is the source of all human action is by no means the easy way out. It suggests a very long timeline requiring patience. Education cannot change human nature.

    1. Brian, how is this discussion not a motivator? We're specifically talking about how some actor on behalf of the government was paid huge sums of money to lie to the public and push authoritarian legislation through. Now everyone associated with him is backpedalling about how he was involved. It is an epic cluster-f*ck. Exposing this activity educates people. This exposure creates action. You can't determine what that action is for everyone nor at what time, but certainly there are people out there reading this stuff that had a perspective previous to this incident about Obummercare that now are searching out knowledge to learn about the circumstances surrounding this fiasco. This is education. This will turn into action for some amount of people at some time, even if it is to not believe what they are told by policy makers when previously they did. You cannot have 100 years of progressivist activity overturned in one day. There is no choice but to take the patient long-term view.

  4. BTW - the egg came first. The chicken was simply the eggs response to a hostile environment.