But government officials cannot admit to making a mistake without jeopardizing their whole careers.
Can you imagine a president of the United States saying to the mothers of America, "I am sorry your sons were killed in a war I never should have gotten us into"?
What is even more relevant to Sunstein's desire to have our betters tell us how to live our lives is that so many oppressive and even catastrophic government policies were cheered on by the intelligentsia.
Back in the 1930s, for example, totalitarianism was considered to be "the wave of the future" by much of the intelligentsia, not only in the totalitarian countries themselves but in democratic nations as well.
The Soviet Union was being praised to the skies by such literary luminaries as George Bernard Shaw in Britain and Edmund Wilson in America — this while literally millions of people were being systematically starved to death by Stalin and masses of others were being shipped off to slave labor camps.
Even Hitler and Mussolini had their supporters or apologists among intellectuals in the Western democracies, including at one time Lincoln Steffens and W.E.B. Du Bois.
An even larger array of the intellectual elite in the 1930s opposed the efforts of Western democracies to respond to Hitler's massive military buildup with offsetting defense buildups to deter Hitler or to defend themselves if deterrence failed.
"Disarmament" was the mantra of the day among the intelligentsia, often garnished with the suggestion that the Western democracies should "set an example" for other nations — as if Nazi Germany or imperial Japan were likely to follow their example.
Too many among today's intellectual elite see themselves as our shepherds and us as their sheep.
Tragically, too many of us are apparently willing to be sheep, in exchange for being taken care of, being relieved of the burdens of adult responsibility and being supplied with "free" stuff paid for by others.
Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University in California. His website is www.tsowell.com.