Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

‘Gray Matter’–Deficient Americans

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

Former New York mayor and multibillionaire Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg, four years ago at Oxford, England, dismissed farming, ancient and modern. He lectured that agriculture was little more than the rote labor of dropping seeds into the ground and watching corn sprout — easy, mindless, automatic.

“I could teach anybody,” Bloomberg pontificated, “even people in this room, no offense intended, to be a farmer.”

He contrasted such supposedly unintelligent labor of the past (and present) with the “skill set” of the current “information economy” that requires “how to think and analyze.” In this new economy, he said, “you have to have a lot more gray matter.”

Gray matter?

For all his later denials and efforts to contextualize those remarks, Bloomberg seems to see both ancient and modern agriculture, and farmers, as either unskilled or not very smart, as if the genetically inferior gravitate to muscular labor far from the “skill sets” of those like Mike Bloomberg. He certainly has no idea about either the sophistication of ancient agriculture or the high-tech savvy of contemporary farmers — much less just how difficult it is, and always was, to produce food, much less that history is so often the story of mass famine rather than bounty and plenty.

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About Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow in Residence in Classics and Military History at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, a professor of Classics Emeritus at California State University, Fresno, and a nationally syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services. He is also the Wayne & Marcia Buske Distinguished Fellow in History, Hillsdale College, where he teaches each fall semester courses in military history and classical culture.

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