Is the American voter stupid?

Nov 24, 2014

New York, New York

Dear Diary,

Stocks hit new highs last week. Gold creeped back over the $1,200 market.

And Mr. Jonathan Gruber came dangerously close to committing truth.

In Ancient Egypt the Pharaoh was believed to be divine. He was said to be a god. That gave him the right to tell people what to do.

(This belief persisted in ancient Rome. Augustus Caesar was sometimes referred to as the 'son of god.' And Caligula declared himself a god; his guards thought he was mad and killed him.)

Later, in the Middle Ages and until the French Revolution people believed that the King was divinely appointed. He wasn't a god himself, but God had given him the divine right to tell others what to do.

Now people believe that God has nothing to do with it. Voters elect their leaders, who do what the public wants them to do.

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All of these descriptions of government are popular myths.

We Diary readers and writers recognized a drop of fresh water in the murky puddle of political fantasy in the remarks of Mr. Jonathan Gruber, who helped to get Obamacare passed:

"Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage and basically, you know, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically, that was really, really critical to getting this thing to pass." "If you have a law that makes explicit that healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it wouldn't have passed."

Poor Mr. Gruber is getting little support or appreciation. Instead of being thanked helping us understand how the system really works, he is being assailed from right and left. To the right, he is a slick political operative, deceiving the public to get what he wants. To the left, he is a dumbbell and a traitor, who has revealed a little too many unsavory ingredients in the Democrats'sausages. What can we do but rise in defense of Mr. Gruber, as we do with all underdogs, die-hards and mental defectives?

Mr. Gruber is wrong about the stupidity of the American people. The typical voter is no dumber than the typical person he votes for. He has better things to do than to study the rampant folderol of the legislative process. It would be time wasted, anyway, because he can do nothing about it.

Besides he is just doing what he should do...playing his role in the fantasy.

Louis XIV was supposed to believe he was given his job assignment by God. He was supposed to rule. The rest of the population of France was supposed to believe it to...and to submit. Each person had his role to play.

Likewise, in today's America, the elite who control the actual workings of the government is supposed to pretend that it is acting on behalf of the voters, who are supposed to believe it. Voters could perfectly well understand what is really going on if they invested the time and energy to look at it closely. But what would be the point? The system depends on the cooperation of both the conniving Grubers...as well as the "stupid" goobers. Both must work together to make a more corrupt world.

USA Today helped elucidate the mechanics of the fantasy in an article on "dark money" last week. Big Pharma sets up 'advocacy groups' that pretend to be genuine public interest outfits, but whose real purpose is to push drugs. The nuclear power industry operates a "Clean and Safe Energy Coalition." It sounds like a citizens' lobby; it is really an extension of the industry's lobbying efforts. And the Center for Consumer Freedom is a front for the junk food industry, says USAT.

USAT doesn't seem to like 'dark money.' It wants the elite to do something to stop it. Why? Like an alarm at 5am, it disturbs the dream.

Bill Bonner is the President & Founder of Agora Inc, an international publisher of financial and special interest books and newsletters.

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