Leave It to the Experts, or, Whaddya Mean She's Having a Baby?


chizoo / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Recently, in a hospital to remain nameless, a petite woman walked into the emergency room complaining of abdominal pain. She was checked in with the usual round of questioning, scrutiny, and paperwork. Then she cooled her heels in the waiting room for two hours before being called back by a nurse. The ER doc poked and prodded her, performing an abdominal exam without finding a cause for her complaint. The woman was then sent with a nurse to gather a urine sample, That's when her water broke and the baby causing the "abdominal pain" began to emerge into a somewhat unprepared world.

That's right—not only did mom not know she was pregnant, but somehow a physician, nurses, and other hospital staff failed to figure it out after an exam.

We're often told that people are too stupid to make their own decisions, and so difficult subjects that might tax our tiny little minds should be left to the experts. President Obama infamously justified his fib about Americans getting to keep their health coverage by smugly commenting, "a lot of people thought they were buying coverage, and it turned out not to be so good." We should suck it up over our cancellation letters and go buy the higher-priced insurance that he and his buddies approved because they know better than us what we need.

And it's true that the general population can often seem to be running a bit shy of brain cells and competence. But so do experts. In that unnamed emergency room, mom may rate a few raised eyebrows over a certain lack of body awareness, but what about those well-trained and licensed medical experts who found themselves stumped by the whole abdominal discomfort=labor pains equation?

And when individuals flaunt their stupid for the world to see, the blast radius of their stupid is usually confined within certain boundaries. Experts, given a chance to show their stuff, wield Stupid of Mass Destruction.

Individuals may have "thought they were buying coverage, and it turned out not to be so good," but only experts, authorized to inflict their wisdom on the unwashed masses, could give us tidal waves of health insurance cancellation letters, a government-built marketplace that doesn't work, unless it's funneling people into the wrong coverage, losing their records, and serving up the data it doesn't scramble to hackers.

And that's just the delivery system for health coverage with newly jacked up prices, a shortage of doctors, and an assortment of other problems that make it a train wreck.

This is just one area of public policy inflicted on us by experts. If you don't give a damn about Obamacare, substitute drug prohibition, gun control, federal spending, or any of a variety of arenas in which we've told us that our own decision-making isn't good enough, so we'll have to leave it to the experts. Sure, any one of us might experience a surfeit of stupid when it comes to guns, dope, and cash, but only experts empowered by hubris and law could double-down on such decisions and inflict them on everybody.

Yes, experts generally are better-informed than the rest of us in their chosen specialties. But that doesn't mean they're immune to jaw-dropping fumbles—or that we should empower them to make their mistakes into our problems.

We make enough errors on our own; we don't need more imposed on us from above.