OBAMACARE SURPRISE: Harvard Water Cooler Conversation

Written by Steve Bowers on January 11, 2015

I suppose you heard about the problem at Harvard? The professors have discovered their health insurance premiums are increasing dramatically…just like everyone else…due to Obamacare. It’s shocking!

The surprise can only be attributed to a phenomenon I frequently experience, but in reverse. I sometimes tell clients that “you’re probably smarter than me.” (They get a knowing and smug smile.) “But, you don’t know what I know.” (They roll their eyes.) Knowing useful information and having a scarily high I.Q. are not the same thing. It’s dangerous to conflate the two. To do so can cause arrogance and a tendency to think one “knows everything.” You think you’re omniscient. Only One Person is omniscient…and it isn’t you. Or me.

There are lots of really brainy people. But in this age of extreme specialization, everyone seems to know more and more about…very limited areas of knowledge. But that doesn’t stop their egos from assuming they have already grasped everything there is to know. (Not a logical leap.) Someone stated the painfully obvious recently when she said, “Just because you get elected to office doesn’t mean you get any smarter.” (Any names come to mind?) I hadn’t really thought of it that way, but it suddenly seemed wonderfully clear why politicians do such dumb things…at least in our own Congress. They make decisions all the time affecting many areas of life. But they seem just barely mentally qualified to be politicians. What do they know about the other specialized areas where they set far reaching policies? Maybe very little. Maybe they’re guessing. Maybe frequently!

And sometimes…just sometimes… really smart people get it wrong. For example…(this is a personal favorite of mine for illustrating how Brainos can get it wrong)…remember the Harvard whiz kids JFK brought in to figure out Vietnam? The whole thing turned out to be more complicated than the Harvard Whizzies could grasp.

Or consider the policies put together by Gov’mint regarding ending our disastrous decades-long dependence on foreign oil by the EPA and the byzantine bureaucrats in that labyrinth.

As usually happens with Whizzies and geniuses in general…there is a total failure to reckon with Murphy’s Law or…worse…the Law of Unintended Consequences. (Aka: The Horror You Don’t See Coming)

The boys at Harvard are probably pretty smart(probably). But…consider Mr. Gruber from… Harvard(?)…or down the road at M.I.T. Did he have any idea what he was getting into when his intellectual arrogance got the better of him by causing him to believe Americans are; 1) stupid enough to not recognize Obamacare wouldn’t work, but also, 2) wouldn’t notice when he insulted them…repeatedly. Forgetting for the moment the Ebola Czar…have you ever seen anybody hurl themselves down the dust bin of history as quickly?

The Harvard boys are feeling the pinch. They are surprised. Even smart people can feel pain. They are frequently arrogant, believing their I.Q. will insulate them from the Reality the rest of us wrestle with daily.

Pardon me while I fall down laughing.

PS: With apologies to you, Doc…you old Harvard/M.I.T. grad, you.


Steve Bowers
Steve Bowers grew up on a farm in Indiana, attended Indiana University and went into the construction business. While working on a construction project at a law school he was appalled at how lawyers could screw stuff up on a simple building project. Thinking he could do better, Steve went to law school. He’s pretty naive.