Government By Experts

The beginning of the Constitution of the United States reads, “We the people…” The basic idea of democracy is that the people rule. Of course people need rulers, and expertise in various fields is not to be shunned. However, whenever I hear that some “experts” are being dragged in to help sort out some national problem, I worry a little bit.

Thus I was even more worried when I heard that Kevin Rudd plans to convene 1000 experts to have a gabfest in April. Calling it the 2020 Summit, the Prime Minister says he wants a range of experts to come and talk about the pressing problems of the day.

Now there is nothing wrong with getting some outside advice on the pressing issues facing a nation. And there is nothing wrong with holding a Summit to discuss proposed solutions to these big ticket items. But still, a few questions arise.

Who determines which problems will be addressed? And which experts will be invited? And how much will this talkfest end up costing taxpayers? If past summits are anything to go by, we may have reason for concern.

Consider the question of which issues will be tackled. We have been told about some of the topics, including global warming. But that issue alone is fraught with uncertainty and a clear lack of unanimity amongst the “experts”. How much warming is actually taking place? How much of it will in fact be harmful? What component – if any – is due to human activities? What possible solutions should we undertake? And at what cost? Plenty of unresolved questions spin around this one issue alone.

And consider the question of the experts themselves. Generally speaking, when a government says it is bringing in the experts, we can depend on all the usual suspects being there. There will be plenty of elites of various sorts: academics, bureaucrats, special interest groups, lobbyists, and so on.

Most of these will be pushing an agenda. And most – I’ll wager – will be well to the left, espouse political correctness, and have a history of social engineering. Our elites are nearly all of this persuasion. Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci said long ago that if the institutions of power and influence can be captured, then a whole nation can easily be won over.

And that has certainly been the case in most Western nations. The radicals of the 60s did a good job of subverting nations from within. They have become tenured professors, long-standing journalists, bureaucrats, judges, and our various elites. Their views on politics and society tend to be a far cry from that of the masses.

Various names for this group have been offered, including the New Class. This group as a whole tends to be anti-Western, anti-capitalist, anti-democratic, anti-family, and anti-religious. Many volumes have been written about the New Class. As one example, take the 1999 volume by Gertrude Himmelfarb entitled One Nation, Two Cultures. In it she examines how America has fared since the radical cultural revolution of the 60s. She shows how the values and beliefs of the New Class minority are at war with the traditional moral, religious and social values of the majority.

Consider also a book written by Australian social analyst Bob Browning called The Network. Penned back in 1990, it describes in detail the various special interest groups, social activist groups, lobby groups and pressure groups which all tend to be left of centre, working for radical social change.

These include the various union movements, public health groups, radical law reform groups, certain environmental groups, education groups, various libertarians, sexual minority groups, and so on. Their special interests, wrote Browning, “are vested mainly in the public bureaucracy and interventionist, redistributionist functions”. They are actively working to redefine society in their own image.

A few clear examples come to mind, such as the Victorian Law Reform Commission, the Australian Education Union, as well as the various equal opportunity boards. Indeed, just today I received an email from “the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) GLBTI mailing list”. GLBTI of course stands for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex. Just why is this Federal taxpayer-funded body actively promoting the interests of a radical minority group? (No prize money for the correct answer here.)

And how much will this whole exercise cost? Presumably the experts will be flown in from around the nation and plopped in posh hotels. The ones to be slugged for all this will be Australian taxpayers. Will this be good value for money? Again, past talkfests seem to indicate some worries here. They have tended to be long on hot air (no puns intended here about contributing to global warming) and short on actual realistic ideas and practical help to concretely deal with the pressing problems of the day.

Again, there is nothing amiss with Rudd admitting that he needs some help on occasion, and that he needs to consult with others. But just who he consults with will be vital. Just how in touch with the real Australia will these various elites and experts be? Elitist bureaucrats living in upmarket Canberra suburbs and Sydney townhouses may not be the best placed to deal with the concerns of ordinary Australians.

Indeed, I am reminded of a remark once made by American conservative thinker William F. Buckley. He said that if he had a choice, he would rather be ruled by the first 50 people found in the white pages than by 50 of our elite intelligentsia. In a similar vein, I think I would rather get advice from the first 1000 people found in the white pages than by 1000 of our so-called “experts”.

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3 Replies to “Government By Experts”

  1. Andrew Bolt asks:

    Kevin Rudd before the election:

    And I say again, I have a plan for the future

    Kevin Rudd after the election:

    The Rudd Government will convene an Australia 2020 Summit at Parliament House on 19 and 20 April to help shape a long term strategy for the nation’s future.

    Either Rudd lied before the election, or he lost his plan after it.

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria.

  2. I can’t say that I’m against any anti-capitalist, anti-democratic, and anti-religious sediments, though given Rudd’s “philosophy” on politics, I doubt these issues will be addressed (see his essay Faith in Politics, originally published in The Monthly. Perhaps, though, Rudd’s plan all along was to invite experts; he just failed to mention it.
    Nathan Everson

  3. I agree with what you say, Bill. I believe that Mr Rudd has stated that particpants will have to pay for their own transport to the summit and their accommodation expenses.

    When a similar summit was held, Mr Wilson Tuckey demanded the right to sit in his seat in the House of Representatives. If the summit is held at Parliament House Canberra again, then the Australian public should expect to be admitted to the various public areas including the galleries of both houses and the committee rooms. Anything less is a denial of our democratic rights.

    Also as Mr Rudd has stated that submissions from the public are welcome, we have the opportunity to do just that. We should not delay but write today. Find out the. areas and let’s get writing.

    I would suggest that one area Mr Rudd does not want addressed is governance, especially the Federation and federal – state relationships along with local government. I suggest that this area is crucial to all the rest because with it rests the ordering of society for good or for evil. And it is based in our theology and philsophy of life. So it must be addressed and we have the opportunity to do this by including it in our submissions regardless of whatever area we choose to write.

    Greg Brien

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