Last night in the Republican presidential candidates’ debate, Ted Cruz opined that the economy of the United States is poorly run by “philosopher kings”. Those who are familiar with Plato’s Republic know that Plato longed for society to be run entirely by philosophers, by those who were tested and found to be the smartest and the wisest of all. My good friend and I, who both teach philosophy, looked at each other, and we laughed and laughed and laughed.
The United States, of course, is very much into privatization, and is nowhere near the planned economy of a communist country, nor is the United States putting philosophers in charge of anything. I think that Cruz was using the term to refer to out-of-touch elites. Philosophy people like my friend and myself wish that America listened to philosophers a little, but now they are being accused of ruining the economy and being in charge of everything.
Later in the debate, Marco Rubio said that the United States needs “more welders and fewer philosophers“. Perhaps a philosopher of economics could explain to both Cruz and Rubio that privatizing the economy sends all the welding jobs overseas to China, and that a bit more wisdom might bring those jobs home.