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07/14/2009

Elitism, When Convenient (by Don Boudreaux)

In yesterday's Washington Post, Peter Wallison rightly challenges the Obama administration's conclusion that ordinary Americans lack the capacity to understand complex financial instruments - an incapacity so overpowering that even full disclosure by sellers of these instruments is insufficient to ensure that the typical person can be trusted to choose whether or not to invest in such instruments.

But let's accept, for argument's sake, the administration's judgment that ordinary Americans can't adequately assess complexity.  Doesn't it then follow that Americans' election of Mr. Obama to high office deserves no credit?  After all, isn't the task of assessing the merit of one person's ideas on economics, foreign affairs, ethics, law, and other difficult topics extraordinarily complex?  Given that Joe Six-Pack and Jane Soap-Opera cannot be trusted with the relatively straightforward task of sensibly investing their own money, how can they be trusted to meet the far more complex challenge of choosing powerful national leaders?


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