Thursday, November 27, 2008

Yeah, But Do They Have Any Common Sense?

“Forbes: Boulder is country's smartest town,” reads the rather triumphant headline in today’s Boulder Daily Camera. But all that concentrated gray matter didn’t trickle down to the copy desk.

What Forbes actually rated was the country’s “most educated" places, which is something different, since anyone who studies the top ten list, and is aware of how these “smart towns” operate, can see that the two don’t correlate. Any plodding dolt with perseverance, ambition and patient parents can get a masters or doctorate degree. And while some of these people certainly qualify as smart, in one sense, many are sorely lacking in common sense – and in many qualities that are far more important in making a well-rounded person and solid citizen, including the humility to know they don't know it all. But some among them actually believe that a PhD in biology or English lit or gender studies also makes them worldly and wise, when they’re frequently quite narrow, almost myopic, as a result of the ivory tower naval-gazing.

These are the "smart" places:

No. 1 Boulder
No. 2 Ann Arbor, Mich.
No. 3 Washington, D.C.
No. 4 San Jose, Calif.
No. 5 San Francisco
No. 6 Southern Connecticut
No. 7 Charlottesville, Va.
No. 8 Durham, N.C.
No. 9 Boston
No. 10 Fort Collins

These are the stupid zones

No. 1 Lake Havasu, Ariz.
No. 2 Vineland, N.J.
No. 3 Merced, Calif.
No. 4 Visalia, Calif.
No. 5 Houma, La.
No. 6 Yuma, Ariz.
No. 7 Bakersfield, Calif.
No. 8 Ottawa, Ill.
No. 9 Fort Smith, Ark.
No. 10 McAllen, Texas

But most of the places on the top list, from what I know, are common sense-free zones, where residents live and work in a bubble (or ivory tower, in the case of the college towns on the list). Academia has as tenuous a link to the real world as Washington does – which explains why so many of the policies that originate in these "smart" places, and are imposed on the dolts, turn out to be stupid in practice. Has all that education also made these people virtuous (an old-fashioned question, I know)? Not necessarily. They look out (or is it down?) on the rest of the country with hubris, rather than humility, and that's what makes them dangerous to the rest of us.

If Washingtonians are so smart, why's the country so screwed up?

For smart people, they’re also strangely (and stubbornly) susceptible to crackpot ideas that don’t work – socialism and Marxism, for example – and which, when put into action in their local government, turn some of these towns into hotbeds of elitism, central planning, political correctness, small-scale socialism and petty tyranny.

Tyranny in Boulder? Oppression in Ann Arbor? Yes and yes. Ask property owners. Ask business owners. Ask conservatives and libertarians who must live in the closet, afraid to contradict the hard left dogma that prevails, for fear of running afoul of the thought police. These towns may suit some people. But most freedom-loving Americans would suffocate there, or be driven mad, so they flee.

1 comment:

sharkguys said...

I only partly agree...

'Any plodding dolt with perseverance' can earn a humanities degree, film, M.Ed, etc, but the sciences are a different kettle of fish...

Actually, anyone with a few thousand and an alarm clock can earn an M.Ed