I have been reading Obama's other book "The Audacity of Hope". It is pretty heavy going and I haven't finished yet. However I have completed chapter 5 "Opportunity" which contains some policy discussion. I disagree with much of it which doesn't mean too much as Obama and I have different priorities. What is more disturbing is that Obama seems to have difficulty critically evaluating proposals which appeal to liberal prejudices but won't actually work.
Obama uncritically supports ethanol on pages 169-170. Corn based ethanol is a good example of something which is superficially appealing but doesn't actually advance environmental priorities.
On page 161 Obama claims "... Recent studies show that the single most important factor in determining a student's achievement isn't the color of his skin or where he comes from, but who the child's teacher is. ...". Obama doesn't cite these studies so I can't specifically address them but this statement is contrary to numerous other studies that show the most important factor achievement in student achievement is the characteristics of the student and the next most important is the characteristics of his classmates. The quality of his teacher (within the range commonly found in American schools) hardly matters.
Finally on page 177 in discussing health insurance Obama claims "... The bigger the pool of insured, the more the risk is spread, the more coverage provided, and the lower the cost. ...". This misunderstands how insurance works. Pooling costs spreads them more equally but it doesn't reduce them. Pooling a bunch of high risks doesn't make them low risk or low cost.
This inability to recognize well intentioned nonsense won't matter too much if Obama appoints good advisers to handle the details. And Obama would hardly be the first President to be a big picture guy. Still Obama is the President we have at the moment and I would prefer a President with a better BS detector.
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