Savvy WORLD subscribers for years have seen that I have little prophetic ability. My "Paine's brain" column in our Jan. 30 issue proved that once again. I wrote that stopping ObamaCare might require "one of the 60 senators in Harry Reid's corrupt coalition to have a rebellion of the conscience," as in the classic film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.
I typically hand in my columns well before the cover date, and on Jan. 1 I did not anticipate something even more extraordinary than an individual change occurring on Jan. 19—a whole liberal state switching from faith in Washington to an emphasis on liberty. Future scholars might debate not only God's providence in 1775 but His role in the Massachusetts miracle of 2010.
Now the big question is whether President Obama will think that his problem is merely a failure to communicate. He should read the work of Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto Polar, who describes the "tremendous conceptual error" of his country's leaders in words that should make the Obama administration tremble: "the assumption that, in an urban society swamped by migration, a ruler can know everything that is going on in the country and that a new social order can be built on this presumed knowledge."
As de Soto notes, "In such a society, with millions of people whose specialization makes them interdependent, with complex systems of communication between producers and buyers, creditors and debtors, employers and employees, with a constantly evolving technology, with competition and a daily flow of information from other countries, it is physically impossible to be familiar with and directly run even a small fraction of national activities."
Anyone without a high AQ—arrogance quotient—knows this.
Here's one other relevant de Soto quotation: "It is not rulers who produce wealth: they sit behind desks, give speeches, draft resolutions and supreme decrees, process documents, inspect, monitor and levy, but they never produce. It is the population that produces." That population demands a basic fairness: It is not prepared, either in Peru or the United States, "to accept a society in which opportunities, property, and power are distributed arbitrarily."