January 8, 2013

Frum: From the Century of the Common Man to the Century of the Clever Man

David Frum has a good column on how what's good for the right half of the Bell Curve isn't always good for the left half:
In 1943, Vice President Henry Wallace published a book celebrating the coming "century of the common man." That century did not last very long. We have transitioned instead into the era of the clever man and clever woman. We have revised our institutions, our programs, our rules in ways that offer profitable new chances to those with cultural know-how -- and that inflict disastrous consequences on those who are overwhelmed by a world of ever-more-abundant and ever-more-risky choices. 
We're not going to uninvent the no-money-down loan. Universities that receive applications from all over the planet cannot finance themselves like an old-fashioned state land-grant college. But we need to recognize that modern life is becoming steadily more dangerous for people prone to make bad choices.

68 comments:

Whiskey said...

I would not call it the century of the clever. Because really, from Wall Street to the National Government to State Governments to the Media to Law to pretty much everything, I don't see much cleverness. Tom Friedman, Ben Bernanke, Tim Geithner, and Lloyd Blankfein don't impress me as super-smart guys who do super-smart things.

More like super-connected guys failing upwards to maximum incompetence.

Anonymous said...

Marijuana prohibition leads to more people exposed to the horrors of the criminal justice system, more families broken up, more prison mentality, more cartels, more crime, and more waste.

But I guess it's OK if it's just used against so-called "NAMs" ):

Beagle Juice said...

Wait till they privatize social security!

Anonymous said...

Even smart kids can be deluded by the evangelism of pot addicts, how it makes them more creative, how it helps them study, etc. etc. You name it and some pot head has claimed how much weed has enhanced their lives.

Yet if you take a step back, you see that all pot is really doing is dumbing them down to the point where what used to be trivial now appears profound, and where they are spending an inordinate of time tricking their brain into rewarding themselves for time and money spent loafing on a couch, listening to music that tells them that this behavior is a worthy endeavor.

Ryan said...

Steve,

Could you address the issue of what will be the consequence of marijuana legalization among blacks. I'm neutral on the issue but can't help but wonder what on earth are young black men going to do to earn money?

Seriously.

The typical young black man lives with his mother, grandmother, or temporary girlfriend, in a taxpayer subsidized apartment.

He earns his spending money by selling pot.

Okay, once that source of income is gone...then what?

Serious question.

ivvenalis said...

Randall Parker has written a lot on this, with the basic message that the talented must work harder and the untalented are going to become utterly degraded by whatever lot they find themselves in. A large population of idle commoners whose primary function is to be wooed by ambitious demagogues isn't going to end well.

Amalek said...

More like super-connected guys failing upwards to maximum incompetence.

Do you mean well networked, Whiskey?

Anonymous said...

Steadily more dangerous? How? It strikes me that the consequences of making bad choices 100 or even 50 years ago were more severe than they are now. Steadily more incomprehensible perhaps, but never in human history has it been better to be a dumb a++hole.

Gould K. L. Brownlee said...

@ Whiskey

These functional idiots are "clever" because they are good at rationalizing and justifying the, literally insane, Leftist narrative and agenda.

They can explain to you that cowardice is courage, endless debt is sound economic policy, self defense is murder, happiness is vapid stupidity, sullen alienation is transcendent happiness, third-world savages will save us from ourselves, willful ignorance is highly nuanced intelligence, etc.

These imbeciles know how to ride the wave of lies, false assumptions and utopian fantasies that have been constructed by Leftist tyrants.

Most of these people have much higher than average IQs, but they use their intelligence for the sole purpose of rationalizing Leftist lies and pathological fantasies.

Anonymous said...

"Steadily more dangerous? How? It strikes me that the consequences of making bad choices 100 or even 50 years ago were more severe than they are now."

Yeah, like how dumb was it, really, for people to get sub-prime loans with little to nothing down, not pay the mortgage when things went bust, then live there free for the next 2-2.5 years while the banks sorted things out (free rent, in other words) while I paid for it all?

Seems to me that the people who make what used to be called "good decisions" are the ones getting screwed here. The impulsive are make out like bandits in Obamaland.

Unknown said...

I stopped smoking the stuff forty years ago! I found it more difficult to quit than tobacco, and needed counseling to get through the first couple of months. I was in engineering school, and it was making me dumb. I did much better when I quit. I've counseled a few young people, and the basic message is, "Don't make yourself dumb because the world pays you a premium for smart and penalizes you for dumb." Some get it.

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

Steadily more dangerous? How? It strikes me that the consequences of making bad choices 100 or even 50 years ago were more severe than they are now. Steadily more incomprehensible perhaps, but never in human history has it been better to be a dumb a++hole."

Indeed. Perhaps it should be called "The century of the dumb a**hole".

rightsaidfred said...

Frum appears to be arguing for Noblesse
Oblige.

Inkraven said...

"But we need to recognize that modern life is becoming steadily more dangerous for people prone to make bad choices."

I have to take issue with this last statement, given the lengths to which the state will go to continue subsidizing peoples' bad choices.

Auntie Analogue said...

Bad choices? Ha. Just scan Facebook, you'll see no end of bad choices posted by fools who love to think themselves geniuses for posting their pop culture ejaculations for every future job interviewer they'll be seeing to use against them.

It's not bad choices: it's who-whom: who does that which is bad, and to whom does such bad stuff stick..and to whom does bad stuff not stick. See: Bill "I did not inhale" Clinton and Barry "Interception!" Soetoro. The future belongs to them that know how to modulate and project for themselves a favorable, winning media image.

Dr Van Nostrand said...


Wait till they privatize social security!"

Now that would be scary and a shame since the government control of social security has been such a resounding success so far!

Dr Van Nostrand said...


Bad choices? Ha. Just scan Facebook, you'll see no end of bad choices posted by fools who love to think themselves geniuses for posting their pop culture ejaculations for every future job interviewer they'll be seeing to use against them."

I only periodically check my facebook page and I really dont post anything untoward in there because Im too old for that (on the wrong side of 30) but then I am self employed so I dont care who sees what.

There are options where one can protect your feeds and photos from those who are not your friends.Although I never understood why people have twitter accounts whose tweets are protected- that is just stupid.

It would appear that most young people are simply not interested in any sort of privacy options and indeed wish to live their life as an actual open book!

For eg. I recollect that you have option of letting others know what papers and articles you are reading(I lost a great deal of respect for my dignified former boss when I not only saw that he was reading an piece on Jay Z and Beyonce but that he WANTED people to know he was reading it!!)

Similarly on Blackberry messenger you have the option of letting people know what you are listening.

Do I need to know that one of male gym instructors is a connoiseur of Yanni and Enya?

Dr Van Nostrand said...


I think the last time a President attended a less than Ivy League instituion was Reagan who attended Eureka College or some such.

It had been Ivy League alumni from then on and the results are there for all to see.

The problem is not so much that clever people but that these clever people lack common sense.

What they really do is take a array of falsehoods such diversity for sake of diversity,feminism,increased govt spending,war as social work,war as doing a Islamic totalitarian friend a solid,welfare,leaving troops in friendly countries more than half a century after the war,drug wars,gay marriage,celebration of abortion ,sexual deviancy illegitimacy and single motherhood,micromanaging your diet and healthcare and other objectionable foolish ideas and making them seem intelligent ,sophisticated and presentable.

Credentialism in here, its queer(not that way) ,get used it.

Kenneth A. Regas said...

Frum is applying one of the central points of Herrnstein and Murray's The Bell Curve, published in 1994. While this is a good thing, a little credit where it is due would have been nice.

Ken

Thomas O. Meehan said...

Your headline could have been, Frum plagiarizes Charles Murray. It's true, but Frum is hardly the first to say it. It's everywhere in the lebenswelt.

Remember when ATM's were first introduced. It seemed like a general societal IQ test, waiting for the usual suspects to try over and over to use the machine.

As Murray pointed out in the Bell Curve we are approaching the point where a significant percentage of the population will simply fail to negotiate the basic transactions of life in our post industrial society.

Dr Van Nostrand said...

Seeing how Frum is a technocrat statist, Im not sure he really believes this development to be a bad thing.

OSS said...

We're not going to uninvent the no-money-down loan.]

No, but we could, gasp, regulate it out of existence.

But we need to recognize that modern life is becoming steadily more dangerous for people prone to make bad choices.

It was certainly disastrous for Mr. Frum's former employer. Well, more so for America.

Pot BAD! Invading foreign countries GOOD!

Anonymous said...


Remember when ATM's were first introduced. It seemed like a general societal IQ test, waiting for the usual suspects to try over and over to use the machine.


When I am in any sort of line at a grocery, bank, whatever, I always pick the one that has the least NAM's and other visibly low IQ demographics.

Been doing this for years, if not decades, have no regrets whatsoever.

Anonymous said...

Was Derb the one who said that modern society is increasingly a conspiracy of the smart against the stupid?

PA said...

But we need to recognize that modern life is becoming steadily more dangerous for people prone to make bad choices.

Not exactly. Modern life protects, and downright incentivises, bad choices. This is why ghetto single mothers are so fat and carefree.

Frum may have meant "But we need to recognize that modern life is becoming steadily more dangerous for people on the right side of the smarts or character bell curve if they want to avoid becoming part of the subsidized but morally degraded underclass."

Podsnap said...

It had been Ivy League alumni from then on and the results are there for all to see.

The problem is not so much that clever people but that these clever people lack common sense.


The problem is a lack of wisdom. We used to look for wisdom in our elders/leaders.

In a way religion was the study of how to act in a wise manner. We have abandoned that for rationalist thought.

Our 'clever leaders' now base their decision making on (at best - at worst it is based on pure self interest) on statistics and studies which (in the final analysis) can be interpreted (and created) however you like.

guest007 said...

Steve,

I think people will not understand your idea because it seems that many people to not really understand the word "clever."

Clever is not really synonymous with smart. Clever is better thought of as people who can benefit from a bad situation when others will not. Knowing how to get your children into the public magnet school that is overwhelmingly white and Asian is probably more a sign of being clever than smart.

Smart people are those who realize that Los Angeles is not a good model for the U.S. Clever people are those who think they can benefit from the a situation like Los Angeles while avoiding the downsides of a majority Hispanic city.

Snippet said...

>>> Frum appears to be arguing for Noblesse
Oblige. <<< Persuasively.

carol said...

Okay, once that source of income is gone...then what?

Oh, I'm sure they can adjust, the way the mob did after the end of prohibition by switching to herion.

Surely these young men today can build a market for pain pills, peyote, hash? and the market for meth is already there. Hell I'd pay a little extra just to get the codeine/tylenol pills available OTC in Canada.

Anonymous said...

I think it is just the opposite. Life has become easier at the bottom. Food stamps, free medical care, subsidized apartments all allow people to follow their baser insticts rather than working and saving. When my great-great grandmother's husband died, leaving her with a newborn, she quickly re-married and had more children and my great-grandfather had a step-father to raise him. Now she would just go on welfare and he would be raised by the streets.

Mark said...

Sam Francis came up with the term anarcho-tyranny for when the government makes things easier for criminals but more difficult for the law abiding. Someone needs to think of a term for when the government makes it easier for stupid people to do stupid things while at the same time making it more difficult for intelligent people to make intelligent decisions and then carry them out.

Anonymous said...

"But we need to recognize that modern life is becoming steadily more dangerous for people prone to make bad choices."

That should be: "more dangerous for some people prone to make bad choices related to their life/career"

We all know that Frum and other neocons haven't suffered for making bad choices and supporting others to make bad choices. Neither did GWB and Cheney suffer for invading Iraq.

While focusing on the left half of the bell curve suffering too much, we should see those at the top suffer a whole lot more for creating a culture, messed up with all sorts of stupid stuff. How about all those snarky atheists who try to deny the masses of some sort of meaning; the feminists who will never seize their attempts to intervene people's natural preferences; the libertarians' quest for open borders and pot; I could go on, but why? Everyone here knows.

A good first step for making it easier for the left half of the bell curve would be if the top right of the bell curve would stop making the lives even harder.

Aaron Gross said...

Frum is one of the few Republicans who's really been writing about the plight of the lower classes and the unemployed since 2008. While other mainstream conservatives have been talking about deficits, Frum has been talking about unemployment, especially among the working class. He also emphasizes the destructive effects of immigration on the working class.

So this column is nothing new. Frum's consistently been championing the cause of the not-super-clever and of the unemployed.

Conatus said...

To Gould K. L. Brownlee

Good comment, all that new brainpower we have now given power to(see the book America-Lite by Gerlernter) is used to construct specious arguments for destructive ends. I think the Brits say those people are "too clever by half."

Mr. Anon said...

"Beagle Juice said...

Wait till they privatize social security!"

To really privatize it would be to stop collecting it and just let you keep the money yourself. That's not what they will do. The government will mandate that "your" SS money be diverted to Wall Street, and they will call that privatization.

NOTA said...

I think a better way of expressing this trend is that the smarter, more-educated, higher-SES people have gotten better at capturing the benefits of their intelligence for themselves, rather than for the surrounding society. To my mind, a large fraction of the jobs in finance, law, accounting, and management are mainly involved in awarding themselves a larger slice of the pie, not in making a bigger pie. (The high-IQ types that go into the sciences mostly don't make much money, and have to work their asses off to win the tournament and get tenure and keep their own lab. But then, they're broadly engaged in making the pie bigger, not so much in capturing a bigger slice for themselves.).

NOTA said...

Dr Van Nostrand:

The checks keep clearing, and old people manage to retire and get their benefits. My expectation is that a privatization scheme will end up with lots of investment companies getting a cut of every dime going into social security, and a lot of complicated options that will offer some fraction of seniors the chance to lose a lot of money. (And things being what they are among our elites, widespread fraud that puts lots of old people on the streets will turn out not to be a crime, particularly when done by companies with lots of lobbying and legal muscle.).

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...Remember when ATM's were first introduced. It seemed like a general societal IQ test, waiting for the usual suspects to try over and over to use the machine...When I am in any sort of line at a grocery, bank, whatever, I always pick the one that has the least NAM's and other visibly low IQ demographics."

I started doing this about 15 years ago. In line at the bank, grocery store, whatever. Not only is there a good chance they'll botch whatever it is, but they'll give you attitude about it. "Scuuuse me!!?? Oh no you di'int!"

Calling an airline "Tank you for calling United Airlines, this is Quanteesha, how can I help you?" and my next move is click, followed by hitting re-dial.

alonzo portfolio said...

When I am in any sort of line at a grocery, bank, whatever, I always pick the one that has the least NAM's ...

Me too, but it might not be a question of IQ. Many blacks seem to go into slowdown mode intentionally as a swipe at those they resent.

Anonymous said...

Yea all those STEM guys are just such swell chaps. Doesn't really jibe with my experiences were they are typically the biggest asshole aspies. Probally they just don't understand what a raw deal they are getting.

Dr Van Nostrand said...

NOTA:

The checks will keep clearing until...well one day they stop clearing.My idea of "privatizing" is as Mr. Anon put it ie dont keep the money yourself and you decide whats best to do with it.

The notion that the government takes a portion of your earnings so it keep it aside for YOUR retirement is the nadir of nanny statism. As an adult you are responsible for your own future and you know best how to spend your earnings.
And yes "privatizing" by the government handing it over to investment companies will only excarbate crony capitalism and irresponsible and reckless speculation by irresponsible and flighty Wall Street masters of the universe.

Having said ALL that, its probably best to diversify your portfolio and figure out the best package for yourself- probably safer to stay local.

pat said...

You are probably understating the case.

We may not be in a recessionary phase of a business cycle. We may be in a permanent new economic pattern. That might account for why all of the Democrat's stimulus tricks didn't work. According to at least some official figuring, we are not in a recession at all. The recession ended years ago. We have been in recovery since 2009.

But this has been a jobless recovery. Businesses have purchased new equipment but not hired new workers or even re-hired lay-ed off workers.

Matthew 5:45 says that "he raineth equally on the just and the unjust". Well not anymore. The rain is coming down particularly hard on those without high school diplomas or who are black (largely overlapping categories).

Black teen unemployment is officially 40%. It's likely to be really higher. But 40% is scary enough.

Those unemployed black teens are scarred for life. In ten years they will be adults entering their best earning years. But who will hire them with no job history?

The machines are coming for us and they are coming for the blacks first.

Albertosaurus

Anonymous said...

What's good for the left half of the curve is back-breaking manual labor. As in pre industrial revolution societies where 90% of the population performed subsistence agriculture. Lots of employment for everyone!

Anonymous said...

Steve, I preferred your article on the topic of decision making.

You actually question the motives of those offering the costly options in life.

Frum implies that there is no motive on the part of those pushing mortgages.

From Glum Frum:
"For more sophisticated buyers, however, the standard mortgage was a big nuisance. For them, bankers developed more flexible products: no money down, no documentation, interest-only, adjustable rate. These products met genuine needs. But as they diffused down-market, they became traps for people who did not understand the risks they were accepting."

My lawyer friend always says to go passive voice when discussing embarrassing conduct. "As they diffused down-market" should be read as "when brokers working on commission hard-sold them to the simple minded"

I'm so simple that I cannot even guess what "genuine needs""these products" could be meeting.

Frum's banker friends aren't bad guys, their poor victims are just stupid. Frum doesn't want the common man so miserable that he won't continue to volunteer as cannon fodder.

Anonymous said...

I guess Frum is trying to work hard again. He didn't at AEI according to Charles Murray.

Severn said...

I would not call it the century of the clever. Because really, from Wall Street to the National Government to State Governments to the Media to Law to pretty much everything, I don't see much cleverness. Tom Friedman, Ben Bernanke, Tim Geithner, and Lloyd Blankfein don't impress me as super-smart guys who do super-smart things.

More like super-connected guys failing upwards to maximum incompetence.



It must be a cold day in hell, because I'm writing the words "I agree with Whiskey".

The ruling class are always going to tell you that they deserve to rule, dammit! Look at how clever they are!

Most things are more poorly run in the West than they used to be. (This site's entire reason for existence seems to be to document that fact in considerable detail) No amount of triumphalist chest-beating by "high IQ minorities" can change that reality.

Anonymous said...

I think a better way of expressing this trend is that the smarter, more-educated, higher-SES people have gotten better at capturing the benefits of their intelligence for themselves, rather than for the surrounding society.


That's a predictable and inevitable by-product of importing higher-SES people from "outsider" ethnic groups. You wouldn't expect Indian IT workers in India to care about the well-being of average Americans - why should the triviality of these same people happening to live in America alter their outlook?

Anonymous said...

Whiskey said...

I would not call it the century of the clever. Because really, from Wall Street to the National Government to State Governments to the Media to Law to pretty much everything, I don't see much cleverness. Tom Friedman, Ben Bernanke, Tim Geithner, and Lloyd Blankfein don't impress me as super-smart guys who do super-smart things.

You know, Whiskey has a point. How come Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zetterberg, even Ross Perot are stuck in wealthy niche industries with little power and influence rather than the true pinnacles of power?

I'll just add that the Century of the Clever ended in 1945. After that began the Century of the (dumb) Common Man with the Illusion of Being Smart. IOW, the Big Man on Public School. It started out on a high note, of course, and got steadily worse.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, like how dumb was it, really, for people to get sub-prime loans with little to nothing down, not pay the mortgage when things went bust, then live there free for the next 2-2.5 years while the banks sorted things out (free rent, in other words) while I paid for it all?


You didn't pay for jack. Get over yourself.

The people who made out like bandits in the sub-prime bubble were the usual suspects - the smart/well-connected. Not the dumb poor.

Anonymous said...

"Steadily more dangerous? How? It strikes me that the consequences of making bad choices 100 or even 50 years ago were more severe than they are now. Steadily more incomprehensible perhaps, but never in human history has it been better to be a dumb a++hole."

The English historian, J. F. Froude (1818 -1894) writes approvingly of late Medieval England. Everyone had a place, literally, and the wealthy carried the burden of responsibility we call noblesse oblige.

The Vagrancy Act meant that no one could do a Kerouac. The question "what's your business here, friend?" was more than an ice-breaker.

Were the peons happier? Who knows?

Gilbert P

Roland said...

Whenever I need a dose of reality, I just reread the book of Ecclesiastes.

dynkin said...

When I am in any sort of line at a grocery, bank, whatever, I always pick the one that has the least NAM's...

Just shop at Whole Foods. You won't have to worry about making these types of decisions.

Anonymous said...

The bigger point here is that America used to be a country designed for the common working masses. It was a country full of high-paying entry level jobs, few barriers to upward mobility, little credentialism, not much of a class system, cheap real estate (ie affordable family formation) even in places like LA, and conservativer Christian-rooted cultural mores (such as stigma against illegitimacy and divorce) designed for the good of the common man. America is still a wealthy country with lots of opportunties for those who understand how the system works and who have a good background (stable family, self restraint in behavior, smart parents), but the masses are slipping behind. Yes groups who are strong in family and self restraint, and self-selected, like Asians and Indians will do alright, but a large part of our population is experience permanent downward mobility.

How many working class Joes know that they should force their kids to go to college? That there's no future in factories and blue collar trades? That divorce and illegitimacy screw you and your children to a near-poverty existence?

It's a winner-take-all society we're in. Those who make the right choices and have the right background will climb into the upper middle class and make a ton of money. You make one screw up (don't finish college, pick the wrong major, have an arrest on the way), and that becomes almost impossible. A few more screwups and you're just a rock's throw away from the underclass.

Anonymous said...

Our Whole Foods has lots of Asians and some Indians. NAMs are few and tend to be SWPLish.

fnn said...

So this column is nothing new. Frum's consistently been championing the cause of the not-super-clever and of the unemployed.

He didn't care for that sort of thing
when Pat Buchanan was doing it in the 1990s.

CL Jones said...

"But we need to recognize that modern life is becoming steadily more dangerous for people prone to make bad choices."

In other words, its probably true that evolution is accelerating. This is probably not a bad thing in and of itself, but unfortunately its coupled to a welfare state for those who fail to make thd cut.

Anonymous said...

"In other words, its probably true that evolution is accelerating. This is probably not a bad thing in and of itself, but unfortunately its coupled to a welfare state for those who fail to make thd cut."

Evolution is a constant unchanging reality, isn't it? There are no good and bad things - just things. I can't imagine it has a speed. It has no respect for any particular trait, including intelligence. It has no respect for any particular species either - I'm sure the cockroaches will be here to witness man's extinction, as they were to witness the dinasours'. Nature doesn't care how much you love man's accomplishments.
Does being aware of the role of evolution really benefit the species? Does your dog(or your parasite of choice) get up in the morning and ask "Why do I continue to participate in this absurdity?"

Anonymous said...

"But we need to recognize that modern life is becoming steadily more dangerous for people prone to make bad choices."

In other words, its probably true that evolution is accelerating.




Not unless you think that "modern life" = "evolution" it doesn't.

Wagz said...

"You make one screw up (don't finish college, pick the wrong major, have an arrest on the way), and that becomes almost impossible. A few more screwups and you're just a rock's throw away from the underclass."

Pontificating again? Making money doesn't require a college degree or freedom from arrests for minor offenses. You just wish these things were true.

The fact is there are human money making machines in the underclass as well as in the illegal population. There are also those with status from exotic or human services oriented degrees who spend a huge percentage of their monthly income buying their groceries at Whole Foods.

You are confusing income and status as is not uncommon for a housewife whose only claim to fame is her MRS degree in marrying a man who earns enough to keep her like a pet.

I was appalled to see an article today insisting that those with college degrees do better in a recession. I'd say those with credentials beyond a HS diploma do better but that can be specialized training at ITT or Devry as well.

As vacuous as your comments usually are, I'm sure my dog has had more meaningful inner monologues.

TGGP said...

If Frum was really so concerned about the fate of the not-so-clever, maybe he should look into the impact of decriminalization in the Netherlands or Portugal. Instead he just says "It's an easier argument for me to make to my daughters if it's illegal".

Cail Corishev said...

"You make one screw up (don't finish college, pick the wrong major, have an arrest on the way), and that becomes almost impossible. A few more screwups and you're just a rock's throw away from the underclass."

Oh, please. An arrest, maybe, if you don't handle it well. But as for college: how many of the big names in Internet stuff finished college? And of those, how many learned in college what they did afterwards? Guys like Torvalds (Linux) and Andreessen (Netscape) created their products as hobbies while college students, so the most you can say college did for them was to give them lots of free time.

It's not just IT; plumbers and electricians and the like make good, middle-class wages on a 2-year degree or apprenticeship, and I don't think many of their clients care if they were arrested once upon a time in their youth, as long as they do good work. There are plenty of ways to make a living other than the elite-approved 18+ years of school, crushing debt, and a white-collar sinecure.

Your attitude fits for someone who expects to be on the fast track to Senator or a top-five law firm -- yes, in that case the number of people striving for the job is so high that any deviation from the approved path will probably keep you from your lofty goal. But that hardly means you'll end up in the underclass, if you had any ability at all in the first place.

Cail Corishev said...

For what it's worth, people seem to be applying the wrong meaning to clever. I don't think he means "intelligent" or "imaginative." I read it to have the secondary meaning of "resourceful, sometimes to the point of cunning." If that's how Frum meant it, he's right on. There's no doubt that our elites are resourceful, good at getting goodies for themselves and their supporters.

That doesn't imply that they're particularly smart or adept at anything. I've known some pretty dumb people who had a knack for reading situations and manipulating the people around them to get what they wanted. That's what I see in most politicians today: enough book smarts to get through the system, but no great genius, just a sort of low cunning that enables them to always fall uphill.

Anonymous said...

From commo-sexuals to homosexuals.

Eric said...

We're not going to uninvent the no-money-down loan.

I'm not really sure why he includes this in his list. A no-money-down loan shifts the risk from the borrower to the lender. In a no-recourse state like CA the borrower has nothing to lose.

Who came out further ahead - the guy who put 20% down and then did a short sale or the guy who put nothing down and then did a short sale?

Seneca said...

"That doesn't imply that they're particularly smart or adept at anything. I've known some pretty dumb people who had a knack for reading situations and manipulating the people around them to get what they wanted. That's what I see in most politicians today: enough book smarts to get through the system, but no great genius, just a sort of low cunning that enables them to always fall uphill."

Yes ... a lot of them, in fact, are really just sociopaths.

The following book makes interesting reading regarding what type of person is often attracted to politics and positions of authority.

Amazon.com: Political Ponerology (A Science on the Nature of Evil ...www.amazon.com › ... › Political Science › History & Theory

Anonymous said...

As Adam Carolla has asked, "why are the world's fastest people also the world's slowest pedestrians."

Thomas said...

"When we write social rules, we always need to consider: Who are we writing rules for? Some people can cope with complexity. Others need clarity. Some people will snap back from an early mistake. Others will never recover." Shades of "stricter moral guidance." The problem, of course, is that if you've got a society with a lot of people who can't deal with very much complexity, you have to write all the rules to that lowest common denominator. Pretty soon, you wind up with a police state. Diversity ≠ liberty.

bdoran said...

"surely they can see that society has already been massively re-engineered for their benefit already. Surely, enough is enough?"

Gee. Dave's Dershowitz moment should be really entertaining.