Political Disconnect and the Dunning-Kruger Effect

I was reading an article from The Economist, The Faith (and Doubts) of Our Fathers, and the last two paragraphs were very telling of our current political climate and they appear below (emphasis mine).   

“There is a great irony about all these disputes over America’s creators, whether they pit Christian against Christian, or religious types against secularists. Regardless of their own views on the spiritual, people like Madison, Washington and Jefferson were intensely concerned for the welfare and cohesion of the new republic. They worried not only about religious wars as such but about political disputes which were “religious” in their intensity. They wanted to create a state and political system to which people with utterly different ideas about metaphysics, and many other things, could offer unconditional loyalty. People who disagree over legal or economic matters ought to be able to respect one another and compromise; people who disagree over things they regard as ultimate—and therefore see one another as heretics—usually can’t.

The religious or non-religious character of the constitution (and what children should learn about it) is only one of many issues on which it is hardly possible, these days, to have a calm debate. Perhaps all sides should ponder the words of Jefferson in his first inaugural address: “Let us reflect that, having banished from our land that religious intolerance under which mankind so long bled and suffered, we have yet gained little if we countenance a political intolerance as despotic, as wicked, and capable of as bitter and bloody persecutions.”

If this doesn’t sum up where we are in the United States then I don’t know what does.  Liberals and Conservatives are at loggerheads and we have seen the divide between their ideologies grow farther apart over the past 2 years. 


Some of this can be attributed to the divisive politics of our Community-Organizer-in-Chief who still can’t jettison his Alinsky style tactics and is incapable of compromise and leading parties through conflict.  Whether this is due to the Liberal über wealthy 1%’ers that brought him to power and demand he hold to their Socialist dogma or his massive ego that prevents him from realizing that his is wrong on so many issues, we have definitely seen a widening of the divide between Liberals and Conservatives under President Obama’s reign and much of the blame goes to the leader.   


But I think some of the blame (although I use ‘blame’ in this sense as more akin to ‘credit’) can be attributed to a shift in the Republican Party after the rise of the Tea Party.  Republicans in Name Only (RINO’s) were also culpable in the mess that we find ourselves in.  They were addicted to massive government spending and crony capitalism and contributed to the problem we have where our GDP is equal to our Debt.  We have basically run out of money to fund our present Federal expenditures and as was pointed out in a previous post, 90% of all tax revenue goes to fund Social Security, Welfare, Medicare, Medicaid and Unemployment Insurance.  In the past, the arguments over government spending centered around large spending increases from Liberals versus small spending increases from RINO’s but now the Tea Party is drawing a line in the sand and sticking to a zero based budget mentality and they are fighting every extra penning of spending and tax increases that are proposed. 

Our problem is simple and the fight has come down to one that resembles theological debates between radically different religions.  Liberals and Conservatives have distilled their fight down to a philosophical argument – Liberals see income redistribution and massive government intervention as the only way to stimulate the economy and Conservatives see the Free Market as the only way to generate wealth and allow the government to promote the general welfare. 

I have made it clear on this blog where I stand on this debate and I side with Capitalism and the Free Market.  But why is it that the Liberals like Pelosi, Reid and Obama stick to their ‘government is the answer’ dogma with all the evidence of history, common sense and Economic literature pointing to the contrary? 

In 1999, David Dunning and Justin Kruger put forth a theory of cognitive bias called the Dunning-Kruger effect.  Their hypothesis stated that for a given skill, incompetent people will a) tend to overestimate their own level of skill, b) fail to recognize genuine skill in others, c) fail to recognize the extremity of their inadequacy and d) recognize and acknowledge their own previous lack of skill, if they can be trained to substantially improve. 

I think this is the issue at hand with current economic Liberal thinking.  Capitalism and general Economic theory have eroded in High School and College level courses and we are seeing the byproduct of that poor decision.  Earlier this month I showed how Obama has made the false claim that taxing the rich and extending Unemployment Insurance will grow the economy and this not only contradicted common sense but also a peer-reviewed economic paper written by his own top economic advisor.    Conservatives who are trying to bring adult thinking to the conversation are met with vitriol and smear campaigns that seek to tug at the emotions of those who are incapable of grasping the problem (i.e. tax the rich, Republicans want to kill grandma, fair share, etc.).

We have replaced the religious persecutions and heterogeneous theological debates with those about how to generate wealth and provide for the best economic model for our country.  For both sides of the issue there is no compromise and after two years of fierce conversations we are no closer to a compromise than we were when Obama took the Oath of Office in January 2009.  We have a better chance of reaching a theological compromise between Islamic and Christian believers than we do with coming to grips with government revenues and spending. 

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