The Second-Order Knowledge Problem

…or why people like Henry Waxman, who think they can run the economy, are ignorant fools:

“What AT&T, Caterpillar, et al did was appropriate. It’s earnings season, and they offered guidance about , um, their earnings.”So once Obamacare passed, massive corporate write-downs were inevitable.

They were also bad publicity for Obamacare, and they seem to have come as an unpleasant shock to House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., who immediately scheduled congressional hearings for April 21, demanding that the chief executive officers of AT&T, John Deere, and Caterpillar, among others, come and explain themselves.

Obamacare was supposed to provide unicorns and rainbows: How can it possibly be hurting companies and killing jobs? Surely there’s some sort of Republican conspiracy going on here!

More like a confederacy of dunces. Waxman and his colleagues in Congress can’t possibly understand the health care market well enough to fix it. But what’s more striking is that Waxman’s outraged reaction revealed that they don’t even understand their own area of responsibility – regulation — well enough to predict the effect of changes in legislation.

In drafting the Obamacare bill they tried to time things for maximum political advantage, only to be tripped up by the complexities of the regulatory environment they had already created. It’s like a second-order Knowledge Problem.

Possibly this is simply because Waxman and his colleagues are dumb, and God knows there’s plenty of evidence that Congress isn’t a repository of rocket scientists. But it’s just as likely that adding 30 or 40 IQ points to the average congressman wouldn’t make much difference.

Well, they might at least be smart enough to know what they don’t know. You know, when the president claimed that he’d read Hayek? I don’t believe him. Or if he did, he didn’t read for comprehension.

I also think that they outsmarted themselves, and it’s going to justly bite them in their collective keister this fall. Outsmarting them is no big feat of course. Except for them.

[Sunday night update]

Over at Cato, David Boaz has further thoughts. And they’re a lot more intelligent (as usual) than commenter “Jim”‘s.

One Man’s Regime

…is another man’s regime:

Perhaps Matthews missed all of those references. If he did, he still might have heard the phrase the many times it was uttered on his own network, MSNBC. For example, on January 8 of this year, Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak said that, “In George Bush’s regime, only one million jobs had been created…” On August 21, 2009, MSNBC’s Ed Schultz referred to something that happened in 2006, when “the Bush regime was still in power.” On October 8, 2007, Democratic strategist Steve McMahon said that “the middle class has not fared quite as well under Bush regime as…” On August 10, 2007, MSNBC played a clip of anti-war protester Cindy Sheehan referring to “the people of Iraq and Afghanistan that have been tragically harmed by the Bush regime.” On September 21, 2006, a guest referred to liberals “expressing their dissatisfaction with the Bush regime.” On July 7, 2004, Ralph Nader — appearing with Matthews on “Hardball” — discussed how he would “take apart the Bush regime.” On May 26, 2003, Joe Scarborough noted a left-wing website that “has published a deck of Bush regime playing cards.” A September 26, 2002 program featured a viewer email that said, “The Bush regime rhetoric gets goofier and more desperate every day.”

Finally — you knew this was coming — on June 14, 2002, Chris Matthews himself introduced a panel discussion about a letter signed by many prominent leftists condemning the Bush administration’s conduct of the war on terror. “Let’s go to the Reverend Al Sharpton,” Matthews said. “Reverend Sharpton, what do you make of this letter and this panoply of the left condemning the Bush regime?”

But, but…that was Bush! It’s only a sign of the degeneracy of our politics when Rush Limbaugh does it! Against The One!

I can never figure out if Chris Matthews is really stupid, or he just thinks that we are. And you’d think that these idiot journalists would have figured out by now that the Internet makes it impossible for them to put things down the memory hole.

[Monday morning update]

Heh. Moe Lane says that this proves that even Chris Matthews doesn’t listen to Chris Matthews. I wonder if Olbermann ever listens to Olbermann? I sure wouldn’t, if I were him. And it would explain MSNBC’s ratings. Or lack thereof.

The Health-Care Poll Bounce

…for Republicans:

Following the passage of the health care bill, 53% now say they trust Republicans on the issue of health care. Thirty-seven percent (37%) place their trust in Democrats. A month earlier, the two parties were essentially even on the health care issue.

These results are consistent with the finding that 54% of voters want the health care bill repealed. Rasmussen Reports is tracking support for repeal on a weekly basis. Still, health care ranks just number five among voters on the list of 10 important issues. The economy remains the top issue of voter concern as it has been for over years.

On the economy, Republicans are trusted more by 49% while Democrats are preferred by 37%. That’s a big improvement for the GOP following a five-point advantage last month. More voters who make under $20,000 annually trust Democrats on this issue, but voters who earn more than that favor Republicans.

Remember the old definition of insanity? The president has been talking (and lying) about his health care nonstop for over a year now, and it doesn’t make it any more popular. Now that we’ve actually seen the bill, why does he imagine that continued bloviation and lies about it are going to work any better? “Go for it,” indeed.

[Sunday morning update]

The great elaborator:

His wandering approach might not matter if Obama weren’t being billed as the chief salesman of the health-care overhaul. Public opinion on the bill remains divided, and Democratic officials are planning to send Obama into the country to convince wary citizens that it will work for them in the long run.

It was not evident that he changed any minds at Friday’s event. The audience sat politely, but people in the back of the room began to wander off.

Yes, this will turn opinion around. Maybe he should have let TOTUS answer.

[Update a few minutes later]

Roger Simon is concerned about the president’s mental health:

Now I admit I am not a professional psychiatrist or psychologist, nor do I see myself even remotely as a paragon of mental health, but I have made a decent living for over thirty years as a fiction writer whose stock in trade is perforce studying people and this is one strange dude. He makes Richard Nixon seem almost normal.

I first began worrying about this during the Reverend Wright affair. Obama insisted, as we all recall, that he did not know the reverend’s views even though the then candidate had spent twenty years in his church, been married by him, had his children baptized by him and taken the inspiration for his book from Wright. Now most educated people would have a pretty good idea about Wright after five minutes, let alone twenty years. The reverend is not a subtle man. Yet Obama told us he didn’t know.

Was the candidate lying or was he just so dissociated from reality that he didn’t see what was in front of his eyes? Or perhaps a little of both? Whatever the conclusion, it is not a happy one. The same man is before us now — only we’re not in the midst of a campaign. We have no way out. He is leading our nation during a time of economic crisis with a world changing so rapidly that our heads spin.

That’s the danger of voting based on charisma and “hope,” rather than a hardheaded view of the reality.

What Went Wrong With The VSE?

Paul Spudis says that NASA lost its way on the way to the moon.

It was clear that once the Griffinites came in, the lunar goal was being sabotaged by people who didn’t really believe in it (e.g., Doug Stanley). But I’m more sanguine than Paul is. There’s plenty of time to again make the case for moon first, and most of the things that we need to do (get commercial crew going, develop depot technologies) are independent of destination. That’s what Flexible Path is all about. As the time approaches at which it will be realistic to think about affordably going beyond LEO, we can decide how best to proceed. The most important thing in the near term, it seems to me, in that regard is to fund ISRU technologies and further prospector missions, and perhaps even robotic prototypes of processing facilities. That will provide a lot more ammunition for Paul and others who want to exploit the lunar resources and bootstrap the rest of the solar system with them.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!