Millions of smart people, who would never judge themselves capable of rendering expert opinion outside their field of expertise, do exactly that when it comes to the field of politics. A doctor who would not think of taking on the tasks of a software engineer, not without going back to school or learning as an apprentice first, has none of those qualms when it comes to rendering a verdict on the future direction of the country and all her citizens. Certainly we all have some sense of the right decisions to make when it comes to furthering our own narrow interests, whatever they may be. But to make decisions that are truly wise, decisions that have the capacity, in the long run, to benefit all, we have to have a wider awareness. We have to be better educated.
The philosophical, moral, and practical arguments for capitalism and freedom are an area where most people are lacking. These arguments are not taught in schools to the extent they used to be, and much of academia and the press are overtly hostile to them. Absent this knowledge, and simultaneously content that our expertise in other fields is enough to make up for it, we are easily seduced by arguments and opinions that sound good.
It is hard to be well educated in this realm, because these days you pretty much have to do it yourself. And doing it means running against the tide of a huge chunk of the messaging that hits us from print, radio, television, and movies. The fact that it's hard speaks volumes for its worth. I have devoted other essays to Milton Friedman's work and I recently read his first book devoted to issues of governance. The title is "Capitalism and Freedom". It was published 50 years ago in 1962. If more people would read it, and other books like it, I believe the United States, and the world, would be a better place.
6 months ago