According to Dr. Garrett Jones, a professor of the Dismal Science and a BB&T Professor for the Study of Capitalism at the Mercatus Center at the Koch-sponsored George Mason University, the United States would be better off with “less democracy.”
First, some history. A particular foundation has donated about $23 million to the school since 2005; can you guess which foundation that is?
If you guessed “The Charles Koch Foundation,” you’re correct. It wasn’t much of a guess, I know. I’ll try to be more challenging in the future.
It’s widely acknowledged that the Koch Brothers have the Republicans by gonads; it’s an accepted fact, like gravity, since they spent twice as much in 2012 as the top ten unions combined.
What’s not so widely acknowledged is the millions that they distribute among a network of cancerous think tanks, advocacy campaigns, and educational curricula, which helps to spread their message.
GMU is just one such school, and Dr. Garrent Jones a teacher at that school. This week, while giving a lecture on capitalism, he took aim at a core value the country is founded on. Jones said that “less democracy” and “more epistocracy” would lead to “better governance.” Democracy, according to the professor, leaves power to the majority while epistocracy allocates power to the knowledgeable.
How did a man who can’t tell the difference between an ochlocracy and democracy wind up giving a lecture on anything more complicated than operating a Slurpee machine? His appeal to a “epistocracy” can’t work. “Knowledge” does not have a solid definition; even knowledge that we take for granted is usurped by philosophical skepticism and Gettier problems. Since there’s no solid definition of knowledge, isn’t an epistocracy little more than charismatic individuals convincing other people that they “know” what’s best when their interests don’t intersect? And isn’t that part of the problem with politics now?
Jones said that less democracy was superior, because politicians would somehow be inclined to work on long-term projects, not campaigning. Campaigning at the public expense, according to Jones, is a major problem of democracy. As a result of this, senators act like voters and have short-term memories. By stripping the power from the people by about 10% and giving it to the “epistocracy” — also loosely known as a “noocracy,” courtesy of Plato — we would improve “long-term economic growth.”
While Jones’ remarks are pretty consist with overall Koch activities, which includes advocating for voter ID laws, he’s also served as an Economic Policy Adviser to Senator Orrin Hatch, and as a staff economist to the Joint Economic Committee of the United States — you know, the bodies he thinks are “too democratic.”
[h/t and photo credit RS]