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Jewish World Review / Sept. 3, 1998 /11 Elul, 5758

Walter Williams

Common Sense vs. Experts

LET'S PAUSE A MOMENT to consider a simple query: Name one thing that has improved since "experts" took over.

How about public education? Until the 1960s, we didn't have hoards of school administrators, consultants and educational research spending. However, in those days, kids who graduated from high school had a much higher achievement level than today. There's one estimate that a 1947 high school diploma was equivalent to today's college degree.

Before experts like Dr. Spock told us not to spank kids, kids didn't curse, shoot and rape teachers or fellow students. Schools didn't have to have security apparatus to guard against guns and knives or policemen patrolling the corridors. In the face of this educational expert-driven disaster, we're spending multiples of what was spent in yesteryear. Adding insult to injury, the experts want more money.

While we're on education, what about sex education? Experts demeaned parental old-fogey approaches to sex education, claiming they could do a better job. After allowing experts to handle sex education, teen promiscuity is pervasive, and we have record rates of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

The experts also gave us their ideas about crime. They said criminals were really victims of poverty, discrimination and broken homes. Instead of punishing these "victims" with incarceration and execution, like we did in yesteryear, they told us that rehabilitation, group counseling, probation and parole made more sense. After we bought this nonsense, every category of crime skyrocketed.

Only recently have we seen a slight reversal of this trend. It's not because of experts. We've recovered some of our senses and built more prisons, incarcerated more criminals and reinstated the death penalty.

Speaking of prisons, we might also ask: When were prisons more orderly? Was it at a time when wardens rose from the ranks of prison guards? Or was it when we started hiring psychobabblers with master's degrees in social work as wardens to try out their theories of how criminals should be handled? As a result of hare-brained theories, there have been more prison riots and more guards and prisoners assaulted and murdered. Prison rape and sodomy are rife. What's the experts' response? At some prisons, condoms are issued to inmates as a means to fight the spread of venereal disease.

How about experts and welfare? Back in the '40s and '50s, welfare could not become a way of life. Welfare workers monitored recipients. Recipients could not have "luxuries" such as a telephone, television, car and vacations. After all, the reasoning was that if you could afford those things, you didn't belong on welfare. Welfare workers made unannounced home visits to monitor recipient behavior and to prevent cheating.

Experts said all of this was unfair. They said that people had a right to welfare and to have children they couldn't afford and that to be on welfare was nothing to be ashamed about. Experts like Johns Hopkins sociologist Andrew Cherlin told us, "It has yet to be shown that the absence of a father was directly responsible for any of the supposed deficiencies of broken homes." The real issue, Cherlin said, "is not the lack of male presence but the lack of male income." That's the same as saying a father and husband can be replaced by a welfare check, and we bought that nonsense.

Experts and the educated elite have delivered one social disaster after another. Experts replaced what worked with what sounded good. Society was far more civilized before they took over our schools, prisons, welfare programs, police departments and courts. It's high time we ran these people out of our lives and went back to common sense.


8/26/98: Mother Nature's unfairness
8/24/98: The pretense of superiority
8/13/98: Yours or mine?
8/05/98: I do my job well, so that means I can....
7/29/98: Education production

©1998, Creators Syndicate, Inc.