Wonks and Huns

by Shihang

One word that has entered my lexicon through Ezra Klein’s Wonkblog is the word “wonk”, which means somebody who has devoted time to studying the details of an issue thoroughly. I conceive good policy-making as being built on wonkery, with people trying to salvage sense from the wreck of politicians’ rhetoric. However, the importance of this technical detail to the running of the government is a little problematic democratically, as few people will have the expertise to engage the issues if fields get too specialised. (This despite what Feyerabend says about the non-expert being more knowledgeable than the expert, which might be true in reality but not in appearance.)

So I’m really loving the new wonky element in the Occupy movement. They sent a 300 page letter to the SEC and now they are proposing things to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau including some rules that look like pretty good ideas. It is one of those things that make me feel like there is hope for the world and perhaps all history is a series of back-and-forth between evil power-mongers and heroic wonks, who like initiates into an order dedicated to a cause have sacrificed their social lives for the good of the world.

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