Take No Prisoners

Where have all the Experts Gone?

Barrack Obama is in the process of selecting his cabinet. I think this would be a good time to talk about experts.

When I look at all the experts that get paraded out to justify political claims, both by the parties and by the media, something is missing. Has anyone else noticed this? It’s hard to put your finger on. Then it hit me. Our society has a special designation for experts: we call them doctors, as in Ph. D. Sure, there is an occasional bona fide expert that doesn’t have a Ph.D., but most of the time if you go looking for five world-class experts in some field, you’re going to get five Ph.D.’s.

Just have a look at President Bush’s Cabinet. Margaret Spellings’ education consists of a bachelors degree in political science. Secretary of Housing & Urban Development Steve Preston has an MBA, not a degree in urban planning. Secretary of Transportation Mary E. Peters holds a degree from Harvard, but one that has nothing to do with transportation. Does anyone else see the mismatch here? Not only to most of these people have insufficient education to be in charge of these things, but their education is in the wrong field.

This is not limited to the Bush administration thing. Right now the Democrats are arguing over whether Joe Lieberman should keep his Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs chairmanship. Some want to punish him for his negative campaigning against Obama. Wait a minute… HE’S A LAWYER. What the fuck does he know about security?

This is not U.S.-specific thing either – it’s a feature of the global political bullshit-scape. The Canadian Minister of the environment is a lawyer, not a climatologist, biologist or environmental scientist. The U.K. secretary of Health is a self-identified Marxist, former postman and union official, with no apparent expertise in medicine, healthcare administration or any related field. You don’t have to look very hard for more examples.

This is a wild guess, but the world’s exert on foreign affairs probably has a Ph.D. in political science, the world’s expert on education reform probably has a Ph.D. in education and the world’s expert on climate change is probably a climatologist, not an economist. So instead of just occasionally asking these experts for advice when government gets in so deep that the public won’t buy any more of their harebrained schemes, why not

Put The Experts In Charge in the First Place!

Update: US officials flunk test of American history, economics, civics