Examples of decisions/laws that politicians made that were wrong/bad because of their "eliteness"?

I hear politicians being called “elite” as an insult, but I’m not sure what that really means. Can somebody give a concrete example of a decision or law that was wrong, that can reasonably be called “elite”?

I take it you’ll accept court cases? The Canadian case of R. v. Daviault was pretty heavily criticized for relying on bad social science evidence. Long story short, the Supreme Court ruled that the defendant, who had sexually assaulted a 65-year-old woman, was too intoxicated to establish intent. That said, Parliament jumped on the ruling pretty hard, and I’m not sure if “bad social science evidence” is necessarily an elite problem. Maybe if by “elite” we actually mean “lacking in common sense”?

I think it is a metaphor for someone who isn’t ‘on the ground’ and as a result gives advice that really doesn’t relate to what is happening in real time. It is more a metaphor for bureaucratic.

Sure, those elite people that outlawed slavery, integrated lunch counters, passed the Voting Rights act, and other shit conservatives dislike.

One example might be the enactment of law restricting payday lending. On the surface, it makes sense: payday lenders charge a high rate of interest, their clientele tend to be poor and uneducated, etc.

Once the restrictions go through, suddenly you notice that, while the poor are no longer being exploited by payday lenders, they no longer have any access to credit of any kind, resulting in [various horror stories].

Legislators and their staff typically do not have much contact with the kind of people who might patronize a payday lender. If they had, they might have realized that, when restricting those services, they would need to supply some sort of alternative. It is, of course the job of the legislature to take testimony to thoroughly explore all sides of the issue before drafting a bill, but typically, testimony tends to come from highly credentialed experts, not people who are directly affected.

This is, of course, paining with a very broad brush, and I don’t make any claim to the need for payday lending; I am just using it as an example.

The word is “elitist,” and no concrete example is possible. First all, let’s settle our terms – an elitist is a person who believes that there is a significant difference between people who belong to an elite and those who don’t, and who believes that that difference determines social value. In other words, “some people are better than others, and those others need to shut up.”

Now, whether a decision is “elitist” or not is a matter of opinion, though I suppose most would agree on some general criteria; more importantly, whether the decision was “bad” or not is also a matter of opinion, and opinions will often correspond with elite status.

For instance, let’s look at a state budget with funding for a state university. Both research grants and athletics ticket sales have been weak, and the university is seeking funds from the state to build a new stadium with better amenities (which should sell more tickets, and ultimately pay for itself) AND to build a new energy research facility which will attract prestigious faculty and DOE grants (but these will not defray the cost of the facility). The state legislature decides to fund one of these. A decision to fund the research facility would be seen as elitist by many, and they would say it’s a bad decision because the stadium is self-financing in the long run. OTOH, it will improve the ability of the university to fulfill its core mission, and will certainly bring in money for that purpose. Is that elitist? Is it bad?

From a libertarian perspective, there are all kinds of laws that are supposed to make you do “good” things and prevent you from doing “bad” things.

  • Mandating low flush toilets (I need someone to tell me how much water can go in my toilet?)
  • Mandating motion detectors on my bathroom lights (I need someone to tell me to turn out my lights?)
  • Motorcycle helmet laws
  • Sin taxes of all kinds

I think you get the idea. But remember, this is from a libertarian point of view, where freedom is paramount, and I’m willing to accept the consequences of my own actions.

I am not fond of having my “morality” mandated for me.

If I want to add a husband or wife to my marriage, I should be able to.

If I want to grow and smoke weed I should be able to.

If I want to brew and distill my own whiskey, I should be able to [or wine/brandy]

As long as something is internal to my life and lifestyle, and does not affect anybody else, I should be free to. [caveat being it has to involve adult humans with the ability to choose. Do not get into the pedo bullshit.]

Well, what kind of “elite”? Bush II for example was of the financial/social “elite”, and made bad decisions in part because he’d never been punished for his mistakes and was severely sheltered from knowledge of what was actually happening in the world. And of course few of his wealthy privileged colleagues were hurt by his actions.

Wealthy people in general are going to make poor decisions because they don’t understand or don’t care about what life is like for normal people. “Hunger helps kids learn” isn’t the kind of sentiment you are likely to hear from someone who was actually a hungry child or tried raising one.

If you are talking about the smart and well educated, on occasion smart/educated people make mistakes because they overestimate the knowledge or abilities of others, or explain themselves poorly.

Actually, I was just about to open a Pit thread on a good example, I think. So I’l just mention it here: have you seen these commercials where a woman is pushing a shopping casrt through a grocery store and complaining about how the politicians are putting texes on soda???

She is pissed, I tell you, pissed that these elitist swine are telling her how to feed her family, and doing so by taxing unhealthy foods, just like they know how to feed a family and she doesn’t, and isn’t it time to get government off our back, and get them balancing their own damn budgets for a change and letting households manage theirs, and bla bla bla…

Is that a good example of outrage at elitist politicians?

As **Nametag **said, there’s a difference between leaders being “elite” and leaders being elitIST, which has been given of late the connotation of a condescending, we-know-what’s-good-for-you position. But in that case, then “businessmen know better what’s good for the country” is just as elitist as “professors of sociology know better what’s good for the country”, it’s just a matter of how you define “elite”. There are multiple elites - top corporate CEOs, oilmen and financiers ARE an elite; top-level academics and legal scholars are ANOTHER elite.

And no, prr, that is just another example of an affected group (soft drink manufacturers) pointing out that certain legislation will increase costs to the public, by using an appeal to how it will impact families, and manufacturing an elitism debate about it because, let’s face it, it’s not as if Pepsi is an essential food group.

But the target of the commerical is the elitist pols who tax soda.

It depends on how ‘elitist’ is defined. Personally, I think a lot of the laws designed to help lower classes and/or minorities are based on ‘those people can’t do anything for themselves, so we have to do stuff for them…’ which is a rather elitist attitude.

The thing is, a policy enacted out of elitism doesn’t make it a bad policy. Some prick going ‘Oh them black people are interested in nothing but sex, we gotta help them’ doesn’t automatically mean efforts to fight teenage pregnancy are bad for example.

Let’s not forget that a lot of the “shut up” rhetoric these days is coming from non-elites - people without much status, money, education or culture. They’ve long maintained the elites are no better than they - a classic populist sentiment.

Now, manipulated by political forces, many populists are becoming Know-Nothings, as they begin to believe they’re better than the elites because they lack the elites’ education or culture. (Status and money, for the present, are not so stigmatized.)

I would throw in the 'Washington Consensus’ that pushed through IMF and World Bank ‘reforms’ that helped Wall Street and the investment bank community far more than the nations that had to deal with them. Thankfully it finally seems to be joining the ash heap of history, superseded by the new Seoul Consensus.

Realpolitik is also an elite philosophy that believes stability of the state and concentration of power is more important than democratic inclusion. Thus we ignore human rights and democratically elected governments that ‘don’t share our values’ in favor of autocratic regimes that will protect the property rights of the elite.

Hopefully, the uprisings in the Middle East will throw that onto the ash heap as well.

But non-elites are just as likely to deny human rights, if not more so. The southern hoi polloi was perfectly willing to keep Jim Crow until the elite eneded it.

I think the decision to invade Iraq would qualify, it was made by mostly people who had attended elite institutions like Yale, Harvard and Andover; who never served in the military (or did serve, but can’t quite remember when and where); and who would never expect their children to be put in harm’s way by the war.

I’m wondering if the woman knows just what the fexes.

Everybody needs someone to be elitist towards!

I frequently hear the word elite preceded by the word liberal. I think its an umbrella term for limousine liberals and ivory tower liberals.