Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. 5 Lessons from the Pandemic

 

Semi-quarantine has given my wife and me some time to reflect on what our reaction to the COVID Crisis says about us as a country and as individuals. I have distilled the content of our conversations to five important lessons:

1) Incompetent bureaucracy: The CDC and FDA played hot potato with the COVID Crisis for months without any coherent strategy. It seems like the more government agencies become involved in the process the more muddled our future becomes. We have found that the medical bureaucracy, like all bureaucracies, eventually falls victim to entropy. At some unknown point in the last 20 years, it stopped functioning as a legitimate source of medical leadership. Today, it is a mass of purposeless tentacles that primarily exists for the sake of self-perpetuation.

2) The Corruption of “Experts“: Since the way to big money in the sciences is through government grants, the way you “hit it big” in science isn’t by finding empirical truth, it’s by repeating opinions that politicians want to hear. We have thus created a generation of quasi-scientists that feed off the government teat with the tenacity of even the worst parasites. When stressed by the pandemic, this system quickly devolved into competing scientific factions, each one pitching their own version of a doomsday scenario for the sake of money, prestige, and sheer professional vanity.

3) Feckless Politicians: Instead of leading in a time of crisis, governors and mayors are taking the path that absolves them from guilt instead what is best for citizens. Constantly in reelection mode, they make choices based on what they might be blamed for instead of what is right. When decisions are made through the “reelect me at all cost” framework, civil right quickly go out the window. Last night, my own governor reassured the Commonwealth of Kentucky that he was perfectly willing to use Gestapo tactics to record the licence plate numbers of those that attend Easter services and effectively put them under house arrest. Other governors have behaved in a similar manner, each one trying to one-up their neighbor.

4) Our Decadent Society: We have become a tragically unserious people, obsessed with celebrity and sorely lacking in critical thinking skills. Social media algorithms have spoon-fed us our own views over and over again. Mass media feeds our inherent cognitive biases, facilitating a surreal kind of mass paralysis that consists of one part hysteria and one part blind submission. We have become the grotesque inhabitants of the mindless hive from E.M. Forester’s imagination. The lessons of history lost on us, we behave like sheep walking to the slaughter, bleating in unison.

5) We are Coddled and Soft: Our lives are easy, and many of us have become detached from the world of hard-working men and women that make our lives possible. We want the truckers to deliver our food and the servers to bring it to us, but we gleefully clap when the economy that supports them is torn asunder. Our general lack of understanding of the collaborative nature of macroeconomics is appalling. Products arrive at our doorstep; food appears in front of us; entertainment is provided in multiple forms at any time or place. Yet the processes by which these miracles are created are so remote and alien to us that we are perfectly willing to watch them burn to satisfy our busybody natures.

Maybe this will be the wake-up call that we need, a reminder that we have given far too much authority to people who no longer represent the electorate. Perhaps we will learn that a classical education, rooted in critical thinking skills, is necessary to be a functioning citizen. Maybe we will begin to understand just how insignificant the latest YouTube sensation is when compared to the roughneck whose hands are calloused from the hard work necessary to keep us alive. To me, that’s the silver lining to this dark, dark cloud.

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  1. Quietpi Member

    I fear that the lessons you describe, so clear to most or all of us here in Ricochet, will be forgotten about two weeks after the return to “normal.” After that, the Democrats will renew their attacks of Trump (not that they’ve stopped) with more vehemence than ever.

    Does anybody else remember the 1960 movie, H.G. Wells’ Time Machine?

    • #1
    • April 11, 2020, at 8:04 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  2. Brandon Member
    Brandon

    Quietpi (View Comment):

    I fear that the lessons you describe, so clear to most or all of us here in Ricochet, will be forgotten about two weeks after the return to “normal.” After that, the Democrats will renew their attacks of Trump (not that they’ve stopped) with more vehemence than ever.

    Does anybody else remember the 1960 movie, H.G. Wells’ Time Machine?

    I think my first inklings that the COVID Crisis wasn’t as serious as we’d be led to believe was when the Dem’s went all in on getting as much pork as possible into the relief bill. As political strategist, they have to consider risk mitigation in any act open to public viewing. If there was a real possibility that 2 million people were going to die and that their actions was holding up relief, they would have never taken said actions.

    • #2
    • April 11, 2020, at 8:13 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  3. Ralphie Member

    I thought people would take time for reflection after 9/11, and it seems people are more detached from history and reality than ever. Some states medical experts evidently can’t determine the sex of victims yet are telling us to have confidence and believe them about how the government should act right now. 

    I think the Law of Triviality has been guiding much of our public discourse and actions. 2T borrowed by the government and spent just like that, with more coming down the pike, politicians don’t know all that is in it, and let big piles of pet projects pass with hardly a protest. I think the least amount of economic shut down, the better everyone will come out, yet many are vehement that the biggest threat is this virus, and there isn’t any cost large enough to avoid it. And one of the largest issues is if Trump is handling this well, and if this will hurt his re election in the fall. Because that is what most journalists really care about and know. 

    • #3
    • April 11, 2020, at 8:22 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  4. Zafar Member

    M. Brandon Godbey: The CDC and FDA played hot potato with the COVID Crisis for months without any coherent strategy.

    You’d think the Govt would be set up to coordinate a response to a pandemic if one occurred. 

    • #4
    • April 11, 2020, at 8:58 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  5. D.A. Venters Member

    M. Brandon Godbey:

     

    2) The Corruption of “Experts“: Since the way to big money in the sciences is through government grants, the way you “hit it big” in science isn’t by finding empirical truth, it’s by repeating opinions that politicians want to hear. We have thus created a generation of quasi-scientists that feed off the government teat with the tenacity of even the worst parasites. When stressed by the pandemic, this system quickly devolved into competing scientific factions, each one pitching their own version of a doomsday scenario for the sake of money, prestige, and sheer professional vanity.

    My thoughts on these so-called “experts” who try to run our lives: the other night I was out walking the dog, about 10:00 pm. It was a wonderfully pleasant, clear evening. For some reason, the weather forecast called for thunderstorms, with damaging wind and hail, overnight. They were issuing all kinds of warnings to stay alert, get cars in garages, etc…It was clear to me, however, with 40 some years of everyday experience, that that was not going to happen. That feeling of warm air, that smell in the air when bad weather is coming was just not there. Common sense told me this forecast was way overblown, as it seems is so often the case. 

    About 3:00 am I woke up thinking my house was going to be blown apart. Wind was absolutely roaring all around, the walls were shuttering. It was indeed hailing, lightning was near constant, and with the thunder it sounded like the battle of the Somme outside.

    My point is that yes, sometimes experts get it wrong. But they very often get it right. My stupid “common sense,” my assumption that I knew something intuitively that the experts were too wrapped up in their theories and models to pick up on was absolutely silly in hindsight. I was lucky my vehicle wasn’t damaged. 

    It is far too early to make the kinds of accusations you are making against the experts who have been advising us during this pandemic. In fact, they appear to have gotten a lot right here. They seem far more credible than those who were going on cable news shows talking the virus down. 

     

    • #5
    • April 11, 2020, at 8:58 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  6. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVeyJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Quietpi (View Comment):

    I fear that the lessons you describe, so clear to most or all of us here in Ricochet, will be forgotten about two weeks after the return to “normal.” After that, the Democrats will renew their attacks of Trump (not that they’ve stopped) with more vehemence than ever.

    Does anybody else remember the 1960 movie, H.G. Wells’ Time Machine?

    Well…I remember Yvette Mimieux…

    • #6
    • April 11, 2020, at 10:41 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  7. Doug Kimball Thatcher

    Nothing new to see here. There is no good way to evaluate the various layers of government’s response to this virus. The very assumption that this response could ever be seemless and flawless is itself naive. We are in, first of all, a constant political food fight. It predates COVID 19. With this current scare, we get to see our elected leaders struggle each day with their limited choices, the latest data, the reality and the developing national prognosis. It’s not pretty. It never could be. The only good news here is that we all get to see it. This stuff is usually kept tightly wrapped, lest the voters see what’s really behind the curtains.

    Corruption of experts? In these days of global warming and social justice (sorry for being redundant), the experts are all we have! We need their ever changing models and predictions to support the recurrnet and popular dogma as the actual evidence, causality and effects of our imminent destruction are lacking.

    Feckless? How can you say that! These people are dedicated to public service! They sacrifice so much for us. We should worship them, not place them in the company of con men and used car salesmen.

    Decadance? More like unserious and ignorant. This problem has been arround forever and I, for one have no problem with this. There’s enough ignorance and unseriousness on both sides to offset the effects. Luckily, the electoral college is still the law of the land.

    Coddled and soft? You underestimate us.

    • #7
    • April 11, 2020, at 10:43 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  8. Buckpasser Member
    BuckpasserJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    Quietpi (View Comment):

    I fear that the lessons you describe, so clear to most or all of us here in Ricochet, will be forgotten about two weeks after the return to “normal.” After that, the Democrats will renew their attacks of Trump (not that they’ve stopped) with more vehemence than ever.

    Does anybody else remember the 1960 movie, H.G. Wells’ Time Machine?

    Well…I remember Yvette Mimieux…

    Which books would you take back with you to Yvette?

    • #8
    • April 11, 2020, at 10:58 AM PDT
    • Like
  9. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVeyJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Buckpasser (View Comment):

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    Quietpi (View Comment):

    I fear that the lessons you describe, so clear to most or all of us here in Ricochet, will be forgotten about two weeks after the return to “normal.” After that, the Democrats will renew their attacks of Trump (not that they’ve stopped) with more vehemence than ever.

    Does anybody else remember the 1960 movie, H.G. Wells’ Time Machine?

    Well…I remember Yvette Mimieux…

    Which books would you take back with you to Yvette?

    The “How to Make Love to an Eloi” handbook, edition for year 731,635

    • #9
    • April 11, 2020, at 11:02 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  10. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVeyJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Regarding the OP: If my friendly neighborhood gunsmith sells me a handgun for self-protection, but I never end up having to use it, is he incompetent? Is he a thief? He took my $650, but I didn’t need the gun. 

    Or how about if I wake up surrounded by 7 men who want to kill me? I quickly kill six of them, but before I can reload, the seventh kills me. So, Mr. gunsmith “pal”, where’s my self-protection now, hah? You didn’t take this situation into account, did you, you so-called “expert”? You could have sold me a different gun, but instead you sold me the one I was willing to pay for. 

    Pretty ridiculous examples, right? He had no way of knowing whether or not I’d be attacked, or by who, or by how many. He’s a gunsmith, not a fortune teller. He gave me his expertise in his one area, and I wouldn’t expect more. 

    • #10
    • April 11, 2020, at 11:08 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  11. MichaelKennedy Coolidge

    Ralphie (View Comment):

    I thought people would take time for reflection after 9/11, and it seems people are more detached from history and reality than ever. Some states medical experts evidently can’t determine the sex of victims yet are telling us to have confidence and believe them about how the government should act right now.

    I think the Law of Triviality has been guiding much of our public discourse and actions. 2T borrowed by the government and spent just like that, with more coming down the pike, politicians don’t know all that is in it, and let big piles of pet projects pass with hardly a protest. I think the least amount of economic shut down, the better everyone will come out, yet many are vehement that the biggest threat is this virus, and there isn’t any cost large enough to avoid it. And one of the largest issues is if Trump is handling this well, and if this will hurt his re election in the fall. Because that is what most journalists really care about and know.

    This resembles World War II. Read David Brinkley’s book, “Washington Goes to War” and see how much this resembles it. The USA is an amorphous mass that moves slowly and irregularly. The last thing you should expect is efficiency. Nazi Germany was efficient. I would prefer less waste and I do fear that today’s youth has small similarity to the Depression youth that I remember from when I was a child. Still, I hope we will muddle through, no thanks to the “expert class” that has tried to appropriate power and wealth to itself.

    • #11
    • April 11, 2020, at 2:43 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  12. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil FawltyJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Lessons from the Potomac

    • #12
    • April 11, 2020, at 3:22 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  13. Brandon Member
    Brandon

    MichaelKennedy (View Comment):

    Ralphie (View Comment):

    I thought people would take time for reflection after 9/11, and it seems people are more detached from history and reality than ever. Some states medical experts evidently can’t determine the sex of victims yet are telling us to have confidence and believe them about how the government should act right now.

    I think the Law of Triviality has been guiding much of our public discourse and actions. 2T borrowed by the government and spent just like that, with more coming down the pike, politicians don’t know all that is in it, and let big piles of pet projects pass with hardly a protest. I think the least amount of economic shut down, the better everyone will come out, yet many are vehement that the biggest threat is this virus, and there isn’t any cost large enough to avoid it. And one of the largest issues is if Trump is handling this well, and if this will hurt his re election in the fall. Because that is what most journalists really care about and know.

    This resembles World War II. Read David Brinkley’s book, “Washington Goes to War” and see how much this resembles it. The USA is an amorphous mass that moves slowly and irregularly. The last thing you should expect is efficiency. Nazi Germany was efficient. I would prefer less waste and I do fear that today’s youth has small similarity to the Depression youth that I remember from when I was a child. Still, I hope we will muddle through, no thanks to the “expert class” that has tried to appropriate power and wealth to itself.

    I remember watching a documentary once about WWII that featured interviews from both Germans and American veterans. I distinctly remember a German tank gunner say he knew the war was lost when he saw how each side handled a broken down tank. The Germans, he said, sent word up the chain of command to send a mechanic to fix the tank. The Americans got out of their tank and fixed it. The German veteran didn’t understand how a lowly soldier in the field marshaled the sense of autonomy that allowed him to do that on his own.

    • #13
    • April 11, 2020, at 3:39 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  14. Goldwaterwoman Thatcher

    M. Brandon Godbey: Incompetent bureaucracy: The CDC and FDA played hot potato with the COVID Crisis for months without any coherent strategy. It seems like the more government agencies become involved in the process the more muddled our future becomes. We have found that the medical bureaucracy, like all bureaucracies, eventually falls victim to entropy.

    One of Trump’s major accomplishments in the White House has been to get rid of cumbersome regulations from previous administrations that were stifling American businesses. This crisis makes it fairly obvious that his attentions were not aimed at the CDC and the FDA. I hesitate to criticize our agencies too much only because some of the same gripes we have can be said of the European countries also. Having said that, we all know of complaints about the FDA dragging its feet on various drug approvals long in use in Europe. That’s a topic we could discuss ad infinitum.

    I have a Dem friend who complained that this outbreak in the US is Trump’s management fault and was unaware of the same leadership controversies elsewhere. She’s not alone as our American media has always been lax in reporting world news. But, the real tragedy was The World Health Organization disgracefully announcing January 17 that the virus was transmitted only from animals to humans when the Chinese most certainly knew that was not true. To make it even worse, on February 3 Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, gave a speech about the spread of the virus and advised against measures that “unnecessarily interfere with travel and commerce”. 

    The bottom line is there is no point in blaming WHO or the Chinese or whoever as we are where we are and must deal with the here and now. It does, however, annoy me so when I go to articles about the virus that were written in January only to find they were updated in March with a completely different slant.

    If you haven’t discovered it yet, you can go to the Worldometer site where world Coronavirus numbers are updated daily. 

    • #14
    • April 11, 2020, at 4:54 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  15. MISTER BITCOIN Member

    Los Angeles County extended house arrest until May 15

    There is no way people will stay inside on Memorial Day weekend.

    As the weather gets warmer, it will be harder to force people to stay inside.

     

    • #15
    • April 11, 2020, at 5:06 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  16. The Reticulator Member

    M. Brandon Godbey (View Comment):
    I remember watching a documentary once about WWII that featured interviews from both Germans and American veterans. I distinctly remember a German tank gunner say he knew the war was lost when he saw how each side handled a broken down tank. The Germans, he said, sent word up the chain of command to send a mechanic to fix the tank. The Americans got out of their tank and fixed it. The German veteran didn’t understand how a lowly soldier in the field marshaled the sense of autonomy that allowed him to do that on his own.

    That’s interesting, as I just finished listening to a book about the fighting on the eastern front in World War I, which described again and again how the German forces had more autonomy at lower ranks to do things on their own, in comparison to their Russian enemies and their Austro-Hungarian allies.

    • #16
    • April 11, 2020, at 5:32 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  17. Roderic Reagan

    D.A. Venters (View Comment):
    It is far too early to make the kinds of accusations you are making against the experts who have been advising us during this pandemic. In fact, they appear to have gotten a lot right here. They seem far more credible than those who were going on cable news shows talking the virus down. 

    Yes, there’s a lot of griping about the numbers and the projections based on the idea that there’s a conspiracy to inflate the crisis. But the experts can only work with the numbers they can get. If as has been speculated a lot of people have asymptomatic disease then we’ll only know that for sure when systematic surveys with testing are done. 

    The CDC screwed up in a big way when they failed to make enough test kits available. We have seen other examples of really stupid red tape getting in the way of response to the disease. But for the most part I’m not sure how you judge the actions of office holders when faced with such a difficult problem and so many unknowns.

    • #17
    • April 12, 2020, at 5:48 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  18. Stina Member

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    M. Brandon Godbey (View Comment):
    I remember watching a documentary once about WWII that featured interviews from both Germans and American veterans. I distinctly remember a German tank gunner say he knew the war was lost when he saw how each side handled a broken down tank. The Germans, he said, sent word up the chain of command to send a mechanic to fix the tank. The Americans got out of their tank and fixed it. The German veteran didn’t understand how a lowly soldier in the field marshaled the sense of autonomy that allowed him to do that on his own.

    That’s interesting, as I just finished listening to a book about the fighting on the eastern front in World War I, which described again and again how the German forces had more autonomy at lower ranks to do things on their own, in comparison to their Russian enemies and their Austro-Hungarian allies.

    Wwi Germany was very different than WWII Germany.

    • #18
    • April 12, 2020, at 5:48 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  19. The Reticulator Member

    Stina (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    M. Brandon Godbey (View Comment):
    I remember watching a documentary once about WWII that featured interviews from both Germans and American veterans. I distinctly remember a German tank gunner say he knew the war was lost when he saw how each side handled a broken down tank. The Germans, he said, sent word up the chain of command to send a mechanic to fix the tank. The Americans got out of their tank and fixed it. The German veteran didn’t understand how a lowly soldier in the field marshaled the sense of autonomy that allowed him to do that on his own.

    That’s interesting, as I just finished listening to a book about the fighting on the eastern front in World War I, which described again and again how the German forces had more autonomy at lower ranks to do things on their own, in comparison to their Russian enemies and their Austro-Hungarian allies.

    Wwi Germany was very different than WWII Germany.

    Sure. But sometimes the German culture gets blamed for things that aren’t necessarily German culture. And I sometimes have been guilty of playing that blame game myself (having come from a German heritage myself). 

    Also, I’m not sure that the Germany autonomy in WWI reached down as far in the ranks as the American autonomy observed in WWII. But I thought it provided some interesting context. 

    • #19
    • April 12, 2020, at 8:12 AM PDT
    • 2 likes