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  • Going, Going. Gone

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on January 31st, 2020 (All posts by )

    The credibility of the mainstream press establishment is shimmering into nothingness, like the last bit of winter snow after a week of warm spring days; just as our respect and trust for such federal bureaucracies and establishments like the FBI are similarly evaporating. While acknowledging and accepting that such establishments are operated by mere mortals, with all the weaknesses and moral failings that ordinary human beings are heir to, and grudgingly accepting the understanding that the establishment news media trends strongly to the left in political sympathies … look, we can accept all that and a certain degree of human bias, but what’s getting hard to swallow of late is the sheer, mind-numbing, flaming incompetence of them all. Which might be a blessing, for terrifying competence on the part of our current Ruling Class and their minions would make protesting or opposing them that much more difficult. Instead, as Kirk so memorably put it last week,

    “What we have is, instead, an aristocracy of dunces, men and women who tell the rest of us how smart they are, and then screw up the entirety of civilization based on fantasies they’ve come up with. The rest of us need to start recognizing that the emperor not only isn’t wearing any clothes, he’s drunk off his ass and waving his wing-wang in our faces. The people who’ve flim-flammed their way into power are all dangerously inept and terminally deluded. If you doubt me, open your eyes and look around yourself: Is there anything, anything at all that these soi-disant “elites” have gotten right in the last century? Anything at all?”

    The combination of ineptitude and delusions of superiority looks to be shattering American institutions and establishments like gaping fissures opening across the landscape in a 1970s earthquake disaster movie; the establishment mainstream media, establishment publishing, city and state governance, the major producers of our entertainment, law enforcement … you name it, and some notable in that establishment is telling us how superior they are to us deplorables … as they pedal in mid-air over a chasm, rather like Wylie Coyote, Super-Genius, just before he drops like an anvil to the bottom of the gorge below. Viewing figures for the Grammy awards broadcast is down, CNN is a laughingstock, a much-anticipated novel dripping with social-justice – which got the nod from Oprah is now going down the vortex of cancel-culture, and the FBI took a break from trying to reverse the results of the 2016 election and arrested San Francisco’s director or public works. The last-named gentleman apparently took a break from doing something innovative regarding the poop-filled streets of that place, to engineering sweetheart deals for such entities as lavished generous bribes and perks upon him, to such a degree that the FBI was brought to take notice of it all. Social justice wokery turns college campuses into overpriced bear-pits; and we pay more and more for public education and get less and less out of the whole project, while the national news media pursues jiggery-pokery, fakery-wokery hoax news. Really, as the Diplomad suggested here – you could make a drinking game out of listing all the ways in which our Ruling Class attempts to perpetuate news hoaxes on us, by means of panicking us into becoming good little biddable serfs.

    What may save us all is that in the main, and at street-level in communities which still function (which is most of them, with certain bi-coastal, urban and prog-managed exceptions) we are still a high-trust society. The majority of us can still trust our neighbors, coworkers, and our local elected officials; and that may be the saving of us all. Discuss as you wish.

     

    48 Responses to “Going, Going. Gone”

    1. Kirk Says:

      Crap. I don’t know which is more frightening: That my writing is worth quoting, or that my ideas might be actually be valid about it all.

      One of the more disturbing things, at a really queasy and visceral level, is the realization of just how incompetent these idiots are, who’re supposedly the “masters of the universe”, running all these things.

      Stop and think about it–How stupid do Strzok and Page have to be, to commit their little back-and-forth missives to text on government-owned devices. I know middle-school girls who’re more conscious of operational security than that, when they start their vicious little gossip fests about their friends.

      Stop and think about that: This is the state of the art, the level of their tradecraft, when they stoop to take out a serving, elected President. They were talking about it, in the clear, via a system they had to know was compromised. They didn’t bother with even using code words, or make the slightest attempt to effectively conceal what they were doing. The sheer hubristic arrogance of it all is just mind-numbing–Did they think that nobody would ever find the evidence? That it just vanished into the thin blue air, when they deleted it?

      How do people like that even happen? If I were to even consider plotting like that, the last damn thing I’d do is put it down in writing on a device that you’d have to know was inherently insecure–Certainly, to any official investigation. How incompetent do these boobs have to be? And, Page has the balls to sue the Justice Department over revealing the texts? Has she heard of the Streisand Effect?

      The standard of conspiracy is drastically lower than it used to be. Mark Felt had the good sense to keep his work off paper–We have no written evidence of what he did on paper, only his arrogant claim that he was Deep Throat. While he was pretty convincing, there’s nothing at all like the evidence that the plotters against Trump left behind.

      Our villains are incompetent. What does that say about the class they’re drawn from? Are the virtuous any better, any more competent? I would say that the evidence is, sadly, no.

    2. Sgt. Mom Says:

      Just take a deep breath and put your head on your knees, Kirk. Your observations and reminiscences of life in the Big Green Machine are worthwhile … and your observances of the the competence of the ostensible ruling class pretty much track with my own. Hence the quote.
      Strozek and Page … when did they have time to actually do their flaming jobs? The sheer quantity of their lovey-dovey emails tends to hint … not.
      Flaming incompetence and unprofessionalism may yet be the saving of us all.

    3. Gavin Longmuir Says:

      Strozk and Page — I am not going to waste time checking, but the last time I looked they were both still sucking on the taxpayer teet. And despite behavior which went beyond foolish to arguably traitorous, neither of them needs to lose a minute’s sleep wondering if he/she is going to jail, let alone be put up against a wall. Meanwhile, the rest of us work hard to pay the taxes which will guarantee that pair fat pensions.

      Sometimes, an unpleasant thought intrudes — Maybe the Political Class treat us peons as fools because in reality we are. We put up with this nonsense.

    4. Kirk Says:

      Sgt. Mom,

      I was kind of hoping someone would refute me, not support and reinforce my ideas. Which I find disturbing, because I’m being pushed towards insights about why so many people love conspiracy theories–Which is because it’s more comforting to believe that there is some cabal of masterminds out there with some sort of plan, than to have to recognize that the world is really run by a bunch of short-sighted dunces, filled with random chance and chaos.

      I do think that more and more people are waking up to this. The fact that BREXIT went through, and that Trump is probably going to be acquitted and likely win re-election.

      Of course, that leaves the minor question of what comes after him. I have a feeling that there may be something of a trend towards the outside-the-system candidates, though…

    5. Bill Brandt Says:

      I’d still like to know who this so-called “whistleblower” is. If Trump wins reelection. particularly as Nixon-McGovern, we’ll know that the influence of the MSM is gone.

      Even I just subscribed to Twitter to see what Trump is saying – refreshing to see it not filtered/taken out of context.

      Did you hear about/see Alan Dershowitz blast CNN on air for deliberately taking what he said out of context?

      https://www.theblaze.com/news/dershowitz-scolds-cnn-while-on-cnn

    6. Anonymous Says:

      Kirk

      Referencing your first post, yes your stuff is eminently quotable.

      Regards the Incompetence of the Masters (oh, let’s add the Mistresses so Page feelz included) it has probably always been there. But any time there is a radical change in technology it takes a while for us to adapt. Early uses are often cringe worthy messes created by people who would have done better in the systems they learned growing up.

      Guttenberg leads to scurrilous pamphleteering.

      Television gave us mostly dreck entertainment….although one could argue that recent efforts free of a Big Three network system are better.

      Of the lurid wonders of the early Internet I shall not speak.

      And texting. No filters, immediate endorphin response, sense of Secret Agent cosplay. Perfect stuff for mediocre spooks who might have been adequate employees just sitting in their cubicles typing. With correct-o touch up so they would think more about making stupid errors.

      If you are looking for a mild ray of hope I’ll offer this. Despite the nonsense being fed them by our educational system I think the young people growing up as full utilizers of this technology will use it better. They know that all this wokeness is crap and simply nod and go along superficially.

      In another generation their kids will likely have Borg implants that display their thoughts and emotions on floating screens above their wired up noggins. I’d like to be in a classroom with that tech floating around when the current educational drivel is served up. Only as historical oddity and as a signal warning of course.

      TW

    7. Brian Says:

      “I’d still like to know who this so-called “whistleblower” is”
      Everyone knows who he is. Eric Ciaramella. CIA agent. Buddy of Vindman’s from their time on the NSC. Also best buds with several former NSC staffers who now work for Schiff.

    8. Anonymous Says:

      It would be a small expense to use a bit of old tech here. Hire a bunch of airplanes to tow banners over as much of the US as possible. With the image of a whistle and the text: HIS NAME IS ERIC CIARAMELLA. I suppose it would be easiest to start over DC but there are those no fly zones. Plus, everyone there already knows.

      T

    9. CapitalistRoader Says:

      I have hope. The fact that Trump was able to beat Hillary saved the US for another four or eight years. The old administration was booted out and slowly eight years of Obama’s corruption is being cleaned up. If Durham gets convictions of top-level folks then that should act as a brake on future criminal behavior by career bureaucrats. If Durham doesn’t get convictions then expect the corruption to seep right back in when the next Dem administration gets back into power. With impeachment all but dead the time to strike is now.

      I have no illusions that eight years of Trump will be free of corruption by Republicans. The only hope is that Democrats get stomped in November, radically change their party like they did after ’72, and nominate a do-gooder like Carter for ’24. Well, hopefully a do-gooder more competent than Carter.

    10. James the lesser Says:

      The credibility of the MSM is rock-solid for a long list of people I can name. If the most recent elections are any guide, the list of trusting news/media consumers is _very_ long.
      Not everybody troubles to compare today’s news with last weeks. We’ve always been at war with Eastasia.

    11. David Foster Says:

      Part of the problem, I think, is highly-credentialed graduates seeking “staff” or “advisory” jobs as opposed to line jobs where they will actually have responsibility and authority for getting something done, and hence, develop (if they don’t already have it!) a certain arrogance about their own capabilities and an inability to understand how things actually work. Tyler Cowen has an article related to this:

      https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2020-01-30/old-people-have-all-the-interesting-jobs-in-america

      If you don’t have Bloomberg access, Tyler summarizes at his own blog:

      https://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2020/01/toward-a-more-general-theory-of-task-complexity.html

    12. Sam L. Says:

      It’s not “going”; it’s LONG GONE.

    13. Kirk Says:

      @David Foster:

      Lots of good points in those two links, and those points fit in with my own thinking.

      When you look at things, though… Through a certain lens, from a particular viewpoint… I think the essential conflict/dichotomy here is between the control freak mentality and the pragmatic approach of the maverick.

      And, it ties in with one of the points I made last week, as your links also hypothesize–We’ve put into place a system that’s self-reinforcing and entirely self-referential. Go look at what I was saying about IQ testing, take a look around at our “elites”, and ask yourself if what we’re seeing isn’t symptomatic of something I’m trying to describe.

      I think that the entirety of the IQ testing regime and all of its follow-on institutional features were applied well before they should have been, because we simply don’t understand enough of what goes into it all. What is “intelligence”? You ask the average person, and they have an understanding of the term that’s completely out of keeping with the actual things the IQ test measures and assesses, so they’re perfectly willing to use those tests and others like them as proxies for things that we really don’t understand. Hell, things we really haven’t even defined very well, to be honest.

      You say “intelligence”, and the average person thinks “Oh, he means “smart”…”, and they use it in the sense that someone who is “smart” is better at everything requiring cognition. Everything–Even qualities that really aren’t measurable by any sort of written intelligence test. We’ve worked wonders using this system to select for people who are functionally idiot-savants in a lot of ways, men and women with the ability to do really well on tests, but who are functionally dolts when it comes to issues requiring anything like the quality we might term “wisdom”.

      Most of the effects we’re observing from this flow from this essential and fundamental flaw in the system we’ve allowed to build up around this idea of “IQ=Virtue”.

      We might look for an example of this in the life and life’s work of one Thomas Midgley Jr., the man who was the chemical engineer working for GM, and who popularized the use of tetraethyl lead as an anti-knock agent. Brilliant man–He later had a lot to do with the use of CFCs in refrigeration. Smart man, brilliant even… But, wise? Was he? Might I quote from the Wiki article under his name?

      “In 1923, Midgley took a long vacation in Miami, Florida, to cure himself of lead poisoning. He “[found] that my lungs have been affected and that it is necessary to drop all work and get a large supply of fresh air”.”

      This was also the year he was given an award for helping develop the use of TEL for anti-knock in engines… More from the Wiki:

      “In April 1923, General Motors created the General Motors Chemical Company (GMCC) to supervise the production of TEL by the DuPont company. Kettering was elected as president, and Midgley was vice president. However, after two deaths and several cases of lead poisoning at the TEL prototype plant in Dayton, Ohio, the staff at Dayton was said in 1924 to be “depressed to the point of considering giving up the whole tetraethyl lead program”. Over the course of the next year, eight more people died at DuPont’s plant in Deepwater, New Jersey.

      In 1924, unsatisfied with the speed of DuPont’s TEL production using the “bromide process”, General Motors and the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey (now known as ExxonMobil) created the Ethyl Gasoline Corporation to produce and market TEL. Ethyl Corporation built a new chemical plant using a high-temperature ethyl chloride process at the Bayway Refinery in New Jersey. However, within the first two months of its operation, the new plant was plagued by more cases of lead poisoning, hallucinations, insanity, and five deaths.”

      I think it’s fairly unequivocal that Mr. Midgley was a very smart man; what was lacking in his makeup was any sense of wisdom and sagacity.

      Now consider how much our current system is set up to reward and encourage the creation of technocrats exactly like him, and ask yourself if we’ve really defined “intelligence” properly, and if that’s actually the quality we should be seeking out and trying to develop in our elites? Or, should we be treating these people as interchangeable human problem solvers to be used at the direction of people with actual wisdom to know when a solution is worse than the original problem? Maybe, just maybe, we ought to keep the “intelligent” well away from the levers of power, and look for people with high “WQ” scores to supervise them?

    14. David Foster Says:

      “I think it’s fairly unequivocal that Mr. Midgley was a very smart man; what was lacking in his makeup was any sense of wisdom and sagacity. Now consider how much our current system is set up to reward and encourage the creation of technocrats exactly like him”

      I think there’s a difference. Midgley took major risks with his *own* health as well as with the health of others.

    15. David Foster Says:

      also…”I think the essential conflict/dichotomy here is between the control freak mentality and the pragmatic approach of the maverick”

      It would be interesting to know to what degree Trump has been able to delegate effectively in his businesses, rather than drying to run everything in detail himself. I suspect he’s a pretty decent delegator, but haven’t seem much evidence on way or another. I *have* observed that people who start a startup, and grow it successfully, are often unable to view other people, even at high executive levels, as anything other than “arms and legs” carrying out his ideas. Which then inhibits further growth, of course.

    16. Kirk Says:

      @David Foster,

      Point I’m getting at is that Midgley had personal empirical evidence that lead was dangerous to health. He knew that information in a personal way–He’d gone out to Miami for “fresh air”.

      And, yet… He went ahead with his work, eventually getting TEL into just about every fuel tank in America, spreading what he knew to be poisonous into the air around every gas-powered vehicle in the world that would use TEL as an anti-knock agent.

      This was a “smart” solution to engine knock; it was an unwise one, because of the health effects that he’d personally experienced. The lack of wisdom there is that he apparently never connected the cause he created with the effect it would have–Either that, or he was an extraordinarily evil man, knowingly poisoning the world with his product. I can’t find any evidence for that, however–He genuinely thought he was doing “good” with his work, so far as I can tell.

      And, while I can’t really blame him for the CFC thing, which was not well-understood until well after his death in ’44, the entire TEL issue has to be laid at the door for “unwisdom”. Lead poisoning wasn’t exactly a poorly-understood phenomenon in the early 20th Century–The Australians were linking lead toxicity with childhood health as early as 1897. A wiser, more pragmatic man would have at least considered the health implications of pumping literally tons of vaporized lead into the atmosphere, and then said “No, that’s not a good idea…”. For whatever reason, Midgley’s thinking went right past “pragmatism” and “caution”, barreling into “eventual disaster”. I’m sure he would have been horrified by it all, had he but known…

      Oh, yeah–Not so much. He did know, or should have known:

      “GM, DuPont, Kettering, and Midgley also knew that lead in gasoline might pollute the air and roadways. In December 1922 the US Surgeon General, H.S. Cumming, wrote Pierre du Pont:

      “Inasmuch as it is understood that when employed in gasoline engines, this substance will add a finely divided and nondiffusible form of lead to exhaust gases, and furthermore, since lead poisoning in human beings is of the cumulative type resulting frequently from the daily intake of minute quantities, it seems pertinent to inquire whether there might not be a decided health hazard associated with the extensive use of lead tetraethyl in engines.”

      Midgley wrote that the question “had been given very serious consideration… no actual experimental data has been taken.” Yet, he assured the Surgeon General, “the average street will probably be so free from lead that it will be impossible to detect it or its absorption.”

      He was fond of washing his hands thoroughly in tetraethyl lead and drying them on his handkerchief to demonstrate its safety before the public. “I’m not taking any chance whatever,” he said. “Nor would I take any chance doing that every day.” He was selling his product and he was good at it. His boss, Charles Kettering, appreciated him for it:

      After the discovery of tetraethyl lead and the development of a satisfactory antiknock compound containing it, Midgley went to work on the job of introducing the new product to the public, an endeavor in which he met with, and finally overcame, many obstacles and much opposition. It was thus in his years of work on the antiknock problem that Midgley demonstrated unusual talents in all three of the important phases of industrial research: first, in original investigation or invention; second, in development or in conversion to the stage of practical usefulness; and, third, in selling the new thing to the public—or in some instances to management first….”

      I’m gonna go with “smart, but really dumb”, in his case. Maybe evil, but if he was that, I rather doubt he would have been washing his hands in tetraethyl lead as a demonstration of the safety of the product. He should have known better, he was told by others that it was a risk, and he blew past all of that to promote a product that was actually harmful. Unwise, but still, a very intelligent man.

      Intelligence, as we test for it in the usual IQ test, is a poor proxy for what the general public thinks of as “intelligence”. Typically, you ask the average person what “intelligence” is, and they’re going to tell you “Well, that’s someone who doesn’t do stupid things…” as at least a part of the way they’d describe the concept. “Someone who doesn’t do stupid things” is what we’re signally not testing for with IQ testing and the rest of the accompanying regime of “elite generation”. Which is why we’re having so many problems with the products of the whole thing.

      I’m going to continue to assert that IQ testing was something that should have remained entirely in the realm of isolated academic research about human cognition, and never should have gotten out into the real world and used to influence anything at all. The definition such testing has to use, based on its mostly paper-and-pencil nature, is inadequate for the uses we’ve put it to, and that has had a very unfortunate warping effect on everything it has touched upon.

      Alfred Korzybski said that the “…map is not the territory…”. This is a truism that someone should have long since applied to the IQ test, and recognized that the test is not the actual thing–It’s a proxy, and as such, an entirely inadequate tool to use for many purposes. You don’t use a map as a model to paint a realistic landscape from, after all.

    17. Mike K Says:

      The story of Tetra Ethyl Lead in gasoline reminds me of another eccentric genius.

      Russell Marker was the chemist who invented the octane rating for gasoline.

      He also discovered “Marker Degeneration,” a process to synthesize progesterone and other steroid hormones.

      He formed a company in Mexico which he called “Syntex” with Mexican partners. His work led to the oral contraceptive. The reason for Mexico was that a yam that was the raw material for the process grew there. Marker had failed to patent his process and, after he left Syntex, the company hired another chemist and , using Marker’s process, continued to make progesterone although as a result of the process the price of progesterone fell from $200 a gram to 48 cents per gram.

      Marker thought he had been cheated and refused a later award from Mexico.

      He quit chemistry in 1949 and spent the rest of his life making silver reproductions of antiques.

    18. Andrew X Says:

      I remember reading somewhere that the greatest Arab/Persian rugmakers would always insert a tiny flaw into their work as a way of honoring God, in that only God could be “perfect”.

      I have to think that Sgt. Mom did just this in this otherwise excellent posting.

      For, as we know, it is ‘Wile E. Coyote’, not “Wylie Coyote”. The ‘E’ is his middle initial.

      I only mention this because Looney Tunes are, of course, cultural bedrock.

    19. d Says:

      >This was a “smart” solution to engine knock;<

      What was the "smart" solution to boiler explosions?

    20. D Says:

      >This was a “smart” solution to engine knock;<

      What was a "smart" solution to bridge collapse?

    21. D Says:

      >This was a “smart” solution to engine knock;<

      And the: Chinese, Negros, Arabs et al solved this problem?

    22. Kirk Says:

      Apparently, “D” here did really well on his tests. I’m proud of him, but his essential lack of a grasp on the issue under discussion is readily apparent.

      I’ll try to lay this out in Crayola for him: None of his three brilliant little comment/refutations have anything at all to do with the question at hand, nor are they at all germane. The issue I’m raising here is not that Thomas Midgley didn’t solve the problem, as Mr. D appears to think, nor that his unique “genius” wasn’t achieved by anyone else–It’s that the solution to the problem that he came up with created an exponentially larger one that we’re still dealing with, in terms of atmospheric contamination.

      Additionally, I’m not aware of any technical solution to either boiler explosions or bridge collapses that include or even remotely risk contaminating the atmosphere for the entire planet, but maybe I just haven’t run across those in my life experience. I’ll await Mr. D providing examples of such things, as he will no doubt be able to.

      I rather suspect that our correspondent here perhaps spent a bit too much time as a child licking lead-based paint, and huffing regular gasoline. His mental faculties seem somewhat… Deficient.

    23. raymondshaw Says:

      I think it helpful to consider a wider perspective on TEL in gasoline.

      In 1923, petroleum refineries were fairly simple systems and quite limited in the unit processes that could be employed.
      The motor fuel pool thus produced could only serve in low compression ratio engines, I vaguely recall reading something
      like 4:1. At the time, TEL enabled higher compression engines, which enabled higher performance military aviation, which
      was becoming an imperative during the increasing tensions of the 1930s. Even today, much piston engine avgas contains
      TEL.

      By the time WWII arrived, we could produce higher octane avgas (iso-octane) in alky units. An alky unit takes 2 molecules of
      iso-butylene, using an acid catalyst (then sulfuric acid, today mostly hydrofluoric acid) to produce one molecule of
      iso-octane. Then, TEL is blended in to produce a fuel suitable for supercharged piston aircraft engines suitable for
      high altitude flight. I don’t know what the Germans and the Japanese air forces had available, but I do know that the only
      avgas the Russians had came from us, by US Merchant Marine convoy shipping.

      It was later development of refinery catalyst facilitated unit processes that refineries were able to produce high enough
      octane gasolene blends that TEL was no longer needed. Was it during the 1980s that unleaded began to be phased in?

      Keep in mind that in the beginning, the adverse impacts of lead were not widely seen, as gasolene consumption was modest.
      When it reached 100 billion gallons a year, it mattered a whole lot more. So we adapted, but only because we could.

      It has been over 30 years since I last stepped foot in a petroleum refinery, and I have forgotten way more than I remember
      about the history of it all. But I think the above discussion is generally correct.

      Now do DDT and the female Anopheles mosquitoe.

    24. MCS Says:

      To extend raymondshaw’s elegantly concise point:

      Pure iso-Octane rates at 100 for both the “Research Octane Number” and “Motor Octane Number”, ASTM D2699 and D2700 respectively. In contrast n-Heptane rates at exactly 0. The average of the two numbers yield the “Octane” number you see posted on gas pumps. The special engines used to run the tests are mechanically almost identical to the engines developed in the 20’s to do this. Europe uses just the Motor Octane Number.

      You can raise the octane of a fuel by blending many things, an early improver was aniline but it wasn’t very powerful and had a disagreeable odor. The ethanol added to oxygenate gas raises the octane by around 3. TEL is still the only way to raise the octane level above 100, I believe the highest octane avgas now is 130.

      Another benefit beyond aviation was that the toxicity of TEL forced the chemical industry to develop methods to safely produce dangerous materials. Those would include just about everything you see looking around that isn’t a natural substance like wood or wool. Go into any cotton gin or saw mill and you will be forcibly reminded that producing even “natural” materials isn’t without risk by a series of the most graphic and gory poster you can imagine. There are a lot of materials you use every day that rate a memorial wall somewhere with a list of the names of people, usually “nasty” men, that died working out the kinks.

    25. Kirk Says:

      If you’d have told me that there would be people willing to write in defense of leaded gasoline a couple of days ago, I’d have laughed. Apparently, I’m wrong.

      Let’s get a couple of things straight about TEL: One, Midgley and GM were not angling for its use in limited absolutely-have-to-have-it applications like high performance aviation engines for wartime use. They were, from the start, wanting to use it in every engine running, and while they may not have foreseen just how many of those engines they’d eventually put on the streets of the world, they certainly did not plan to limit their sale in any way. Hell, if you’d have told them that they’d eventually sell enough engines and cars to create the amount of pollution that they eventually did, they’d have just been ecstatic about the whole thing, and then done it anyway.

      The other idea, that it was a good thing that they developed controls and safety standards because of it…? Sweet, I guess we could say that the operators at Chernobyl did a good thing by blowing that plant up, because we learned ever so much about nuclear accident remediation.

      Right.

      Let’s get something straight, here: Leaded gasoline was a net loss for the human race, and a Really Bad Idea (TM). At the time, there was ample evidence that it was a bad idea, and the Surgeon General of the United States had enough concerns about it that he took the time to write and inquire on the issue. Employees died at the factory; Midgley himself went to Miami for the “fresh air”, because he recognized lead poisoning when he himself had it.

      So, it’s not like the issues with lead-based products weren’t known; it was that they ignored them and the implications of them with blithe assurance, certain in their cause. Nobody was saying “Well, for certain limited applications, this is a worthwhile risk…”. Instead, it was “Let’s sell all we can!!”.

      End result? You’ll be able to date the era of leaded gasoline for the next few geologic eras by the simple expedient of examining the level of lead laid down in the strata from our era. I’d submit that while this might be convenient for any future paleontologists, it’s not a net good for the rest of us.

      Argument I once heard from a guy over whether there’d ever been another technological civilization like ours on this planet basically ran like this: There is no sign of anything like leaded gasoline being used in the paleontology we’ve done so far, and you’d expect to see signs of such things had there been an industrial civilization before ours. Seems sensible, that does–Right up until you run into someone who points out that maybe previous industrialized civilizations before ours had the good sense not to do things like use lead in sufficient quantity to inflict environmental damage on that scale.

      In any event, the point of this argument was not that TEL was a good or bad thing, but that the human beings behind it were excellent exemplars of the “Intellectual yet idiot” construct that Nassim Taleb has developed to a much more facile degree than I have.

      Although, I’ve been saying this crap for years–My doubts about IQ testing and all the accompanying weight we’ve given such things really started back in high school, when I noticed that virtually everyone who “did well on the tests” didn’t actually know s**t or demonstrate much in the way of actual, y’know… Intellectual performance. They were excellent at “playing the game”, which was rigged in favor of their particular set of skills, but… Yeah. Our valedictorian was a dolt who couldn’t spell or write a coherent paragraph to save their lives. Now a college graduate who still can’t write, to judge from some of the missives I’ve seen come out of the reunion committee that won’t take a hint and leave me alone, but that’s another issue entirely.

      Taleb has put his finger on something that disturbs a lot of people, because the implications of it are that their little iron rice bowls are going to be broken, and should be. We’ve done things with IQ testing that really ought to bother a lot of us, because of the circular nature of the entire system we’ve set up around the concept. Because we’ve mistaken an ability to do well on a set of narrow intellectual tests for the actual quality we popularly call “intelligence”, and imbued that with an entirely delusional ideation of virtue, we’ve warped our society right out of reality. For which we will pay the price, and become someone’s cautionary tale, eventually.

      Here’s the thing: We’re teaching and selecting to the test, without ever bothering to examine if the test has relevance to reality around us. Sure, it’s easy to say “Yeah, Bobby done real good on that test they gave him in grade school, and he’s done way better than the rest of us dummies…”, but let us actually examine what happened. Bobby demonstrated an aptitude for test-taking; he did well in grade school, which was designed to reinforce and enhance that ability to take tests. In high school, the system identified him as “gifted” and tracked him into a college-bound course of study, and he was rewarded for his test-taking performance with affirmation and scholarships to go to college, where more of the same ensued. Then, on the basis of all that, he got a “good job”, and went on to be a success in life.

      See the issue? There’s nowhere in there that Bobby actually got assessed on performance at anything other than academics and test-taking. He’s a living self-fulfilling prophecy–Of course he did well in life! The tests told us he would! We gave him a really good job, because he did really well on the tests and everything…

      And, if you go back and look–Viktor Brukhanov, Anatoly Dyatlov, Leonid Toptunov, and the rest of the bunch with proximate responsibility for what happened to the reactor at Chernobyl all did really, really well on the tests they were given.

      If those tests were actually worth a damn, they’d have had better judgment than they demonstrated. But, because we test and reward for things that don’t include either judgment or wisdom, we get what we get–Whether it’s TEL or Chernobyl.

      I’m not sure I agree with all of what Taleb has been saying on the subject of IQ testing, but he’s definitely on to something. IQ testing has set us on this path of credentialism-without-sense, where we persist in ascribing intellectual virtue to people who actually utterly fail to demonstrate any such thing, in any amount.

      You look at policies in our major cities–Who but the “Intellectual yet idiot” class could come up with something like the “No Bail” policy for crime in New York State? Who would persist in our homeless policies, spending billions to no avail or actual humanitarian improvement in the lives of said homeless?

      It’s way past time for us to put some performance-based metrics down, and start listening to the results of that, rather than relying on “Yeah, they did really well on the tests, they must know what they’re doing…”.

      If you think differently than that, I suggest you go spend some time on the streets of San Francisco, Seattle, Detroit, and all the other major cities that the “Intellectual yet idiot” have been running for the last several generations.

      Emperor. Naked. Waving wing-wang in our faces. Please note, and take appropriate action.

    26. Mike K Says:

      kirk, I think you are going overboard on the IQ tests and their limitations.

      I agree that very intelligent people are not universally educated. We can look at the politics of tech companies and their employees and see that.

      Most PhD holders know little beyond the subject of their dissertation. The goofy intellectual and absent minded professor were subjects of comedy until quite recently.

      See the issue? There’s nowhere in there that Bobby actually got assessed on performance at anything other than academics and test-taking. He’s a living self-fulfilling prophecy–Of course he did well in life! The tests told us he would! We gave him a really good job, because he did really well on the tests and everything…

      This is a bit much. I spent my life in two areas, Engineering and Medicine. Medicine is mostly memory and pattern recognition. Engineering is calculation and problem solving. Most of my career was Surgery, which is a bit different. Manual dexterity is more important but some areas , like cardiac surgery, which was mostly dexterity and less thinking and pattern recognition. Most of my general education was done on my own.

      A lot of very smart engineers choose to ignore general education. I know a bunch of them. They are still very intelligent. That does not mean they are interested in public policy or history or politics.

      Chernobyl was a matter of politics, not intelligence. I agree the design was poor but the motivations were politics, not safety.

    27. Jonathan Says:

      Tetra ethyl lead is poisonous when ingested or absorbed directly. However, has it been established that tetra ethyl lead in motor fuel exhaust caused lead poisoning? There were certainly cases of lead poisoning in children who ate chips of lead paint, which to this day is a hazard in old houses. Was it ever proved that environmental lead byproducts from automotive gasoline use, rather than house paint or other sources of lead that children might get into, caused poisoning? I remember reading an article many years ago, perhaps from Michael Fumento, arguing that poisonings attributed to tetra ethyl lead may have actually been caused by the eating of paint chips. I wonder if this is one of those questions of causality, such as re forest damage attributed to acid rain or health damage attributed to secondhand cigarette smoke, where an early consensus based on a plausible theory and limited data became unchallengeable dogma.

    28. Kirk Says:

      Where’d politics play in to the decision tree that led to failure that day at Chernobyl? As opposed to people put into positions who lacked the judgment and common sense not to do what they did, running that so-called “experiment”?

      Politics contributed, but the same bloody problem led to those “politics” being as distorted and wisdom-deficient as they were. You can read the entire Russian Revolution and the ensuing nightmare as being down to the cognitive elite following the trail of “Intellectual yet idiot”. No sensible peasant would ever have tried half the stupidities that the Soviet apparatchiks did, over the years. Only someone insulated from reality would have tried any of that, and yet… They tried them–And, then ignored the fact that they didn’t work.

      Five-year plan says “We’re gonna up the production of fertilizer, and that’s going to up the production of food crops…”. Never mind that what they actually wound up doing was killing the local river fisheries with dumped fertilizer that the collective farms couldn’t transport or use, but… Hey, fertilizer production is up!! We met the plan!! Uhm… Gee, guys… Why are the crops doing so poorly?

      Intellectual yet idiot. Soviet Union. Can you see the congruence?

      They followed Marx down the primrose path to the ultimate conclusion reached by a man with no real qualifications past the merely intellectual, who never ran anything in his life, and who left no lasting institutional edifice that he personally created, run along his theoretical lines. All we have from Marx and his followers is disaster after disaster, most recently in Venezuela.

      We’ve gone down a line of development that we should step back from, examine, and then recognize as “failure”, because most of the products of this testing regime are incredibly incompetent at actually doing things. How many businesses have been ruined by consultants or MBAs brought in to “professionalize” the way things were run? What’s the lasting legacy of any of these people we’ve placed at the pinnacles of authority because they test well? Are we better off, with them running things? Are you safer, walking the streets of New York, now that the “Intellectual yet idiot” class has done its work in making bail a thing of the past?

      Here’s a critical point with all this: Did anyone stop and say “Hey, y’know… This is an experiment that might have some side effects we haven’t accounted for… Maybe we ought to try this on a small scale, and see how it works, before we implement it state-wide…”. Instead, it’s “Yeah, we’re doing this, and there won’t be any attempt at assessing how it works before we make it permanent policy. Deal with it.”.

      Average person looks at that, says to themselves “Y’know… I could have told them all how this was going to work out…”. Which is probably the case–Joe Average has a bit more contact with reality than the idealistic idiot savants we let make these decisions. Most of which are based purely on theory, with no real assessment of whether or not said theories are actually either workable or valid.

      And, of course, here we are–With Joe Average rapidly losing confidence in the institutions of society, and starting to wonder why the hell he pays taxes so that the cops can arrest and release on the same day the delinquent who stole his car off the street in front of his house, only to have him come back and do it again that evening.

      Where that leads? LOL… Yeah, wait and see: Next time, the cops aren’t going to get called, it’s just going to be Joe Average and his friends finding the thief and beating his ass to a pulp. Well, someone’s ass…

      Which is, I might point out, a rather bad thing for society in general, because that means that the mob is now running the justice “system”. If you don’t do it formally, then the public is going to do it for you–Informally.

      Which is something you’re never going to get across to the “Intellectual yet idiot” no matter how hard you try–They’ve got their mental construct, they’ve been validated both internally and externally at their success in navigating our modern IQ test-driven Cursus Honorum, and they’re never going to stop trying to implement their ideas until the rest of the polity tells them, with emphasis, to just bloody well stop. Judging from the current lot of idiots on display in Washington DC, we may well have to resort to dangling a considerable quantity of them from the cherry trees lining the National Mall before the majority of them get a damn clue.

      The whole thing is entirely a self-inflicted wound. We did this to ourselves, in a decades-long absence of wisdom and failure to observe effects all this “intellectual assessment” was having.

      There’s nothing wrong with IQ testing, per se. Where we went off the course was in weighting those tests as heavily as we did, and in using them as a proxy for things that testing really cannot measure in any effective way whatsoever. The entire system that’s grown up around it is similarly warped, and similarly poor at coping with the real world, where actions have consequences and the ideation of how it all works has to be in consonance with the reality of things in order for those ideas to actually work.

      I repeat my challenge–Look around at today’s world, and show me where anything our intellectual elite has made better, where their ideas have been successful, and where they’ve improved the quality of life for all of us. San Francisco? Seattle? Portland? Detroit…? What is there that they haven’t flown into the ground, at full speed and without having bothered to look at the altimeter?

      That’s the thing that irritates me the most about all of this–Nowhere do I see anyone doing any sort of performance-based assessment of any of their ideas, and saying “Hey, ya know… We tried the course of action you guys advocated, and now instead of having fewer homeless, less crime, and a higher standard of public life, we’ve got more homeless, more petty crime, the kids can’t go to the parks our taxes pay for, and I’m going bankrupt because nobody wants to come downtown and even visit my business… Let’s try something else, eh?”.

      Instead, all too many nod along with the “Intellectual yet idiot”, and keep right on doubling down on it all. Billion dollars a year in the Puget Sound, on the homeless. Yet, they’re pitching camp all over the city, under every underpass, and you damn near need an armed escort to visit large portions of the city after dark, these days. Huh. Such brilliant people that we’ve put in charge of it all–They must be brilliant, ‘cos they test so well. Right?

      Look at results. Are they anywhere near what is promised?

    29. Gavin Longmuir Says:

      While I am broadly sympathetic to Kirk’s line of reasoning, we have to observe that the Democrat Party does not check IQ scores before deciding who to put on the Seattle City Council. Further, the historical record is full of examples of gross stupidity before IQ tests were invented. The problem is not the IQ tests; the problem is the lack of a feedback mechanism.

      There were problems even back in the days when the king had to lead his troops into battle, and would pay for stupidity with his life (which incidentally cleared the way for someone else to try his had at kingship). Contrast that with today, where the rather unsuccessful CEOs of Boeing and IBM have recently been sent out to pasture with the equivalent of a king’s ransom of stockholders’ money.

      We have allowed the creation of an upside-down world, where the plumber who makes a mistake is out of a job while the politician or business leader who fails is not held accountable.

    30. Roy Kerns Says:

      Turns out that the answer to D’s question about preventing boiler explosions (and refinery explosions and grain silo explosions–they really do explode) and what kept Three Mile Island from turning out a U.S. Chernobyl all have a common answer. A U.S. company about which I know from having worked there decades ago as a research and design engineer. Company made a product called “rupture disks”. These, like the plugs in a pressure cooker or the freeze out plugs on an engine, work by, well, failing within a very tight tolerance of a specified pressure. Rupture disks provide a sort of fail-safe backup to sensor operated controls and to pressure relief valves. When everything else fails and does not do the job of stopping an explosion, rupture disks rupture. They fail and do that job.

    31. MCS Says:

      Jonathan: The short answer to your question is yes. Studies in the 60-70’s found a correlation between the levels of lead in the soil near heavily traveled roads and the levels in the blood of people, especially children, living there. Lead paint was so ubiquitous and many of these heavily traveled roads traversed generally poor areas that it probable that paint was also a possible contributor but the lead in the soil was found in places that make it very unlikely that it was associated with paint in buildings.

      I didn’t intend to write a panegyric to TEL, merely point out that there were real trade offs. The 20’s weren’t a high point in social responsibility, but considering the state of chemistry at the time, the level of lead might easily have been below the detectable limit. This didn’t remain the case for nearly as long as it took to stop using it. I don’t think Midgley should carry all of the blame, let alone be the prototype for all the ills of society from unintended effects of inventions. Ely Whitney is a much better candidate. He not only invented the cotton gin that made slavery pay, he invented the mass production of fire arms using interchangeable parts. Then there’s the guy, and we don’t know it wasn’t a gal, that “invented” fire or the wheel, they have a lot to answer for.

      Super test takers still need someone to keep signing their pay checks whatever job they have. The people signing those checks generally require some sort of return.

    32. Jonathan Says:

      Thanks, MCS.

    33. Mike K Says:

      Where’d politics play in to the decision tree that led to failure that day at Chernobyl? As opposed to people put into positions who lacked the judgment and common sense not to do what they did, running that so-called “experiment”?

      I suppose you could say the Soviet Union was not just politics since it was not really communist but it was a command economy and obedience to the ruling party was mandatory. Russians tend to be quite good at mathematics and physics. After all, the periodic table, was devised by Dmitri Mendeleev, a Russian Chemist.

      Russians have been outstanding in areas of computer science and cryptography. Yet, things keep blowing up and failing. Some of this is due to the poor command structure, such as the massive explosion at a Soviet arms depot in 1984.

      The explosion, reportedly detected on the Kola Peninsula by United States reconnaissance satellites and other intelligence means, was said to have been so great that American authorities believed for a while that it had been a nuclear blast.

      Intelligence analysts, however, say they are convinced that the mid-May explosion at Severomorsk, 900 miles north of Moscow, involved conventional ammunition. The ammunition depot is near the northern port city of Murmansk, site of a major Soviet naval base.

      In spite of brilliant engineers and physicists, the political rulers are inept, yet end up commanding their betters. That’s politics.

      I might add, we are trending in that direction. Stanford now has Physics major for “people of color.” Women engineers are bragging about “feminist bridges” until they collapse.

    34. Anonymous Says:

      Ditto Jonathan.

      It seems to me that wisdom and character are practically impossible to measure, especuially during the formative stage of life. It seems hightly dependent on experience (both good and bad).

      The lack of competitive feedback mechanisms (thank you for that point, MCS) is where the winnowing out is done. The growth of the state (at all levels) and “too big to fail” crony business concentration (often enabled by the political system extracting economic rents) are where the competitive culling out of the unwise, foolish, short sighted and evil are grossly lacking.

      Let us not give too much credit to Average Joe. Too many of them keep the “intelligent idiots” in power.

      I’m not convinced that the current “restorative justice” iterations of college entrance exams and standardized state education testing have moved us in the right direction. Neither has the current admissions practices with “restorative justice” ethnic and gender considerations, de-emphasis of entrance exams and weighting of self-proclaimed community service activities and directed admissions essays on social justice themes.

      Death6

    35. Kirk Says:

      @Mike K,

      The Kola arms depot blast you refer to is just one of the many major things that have gone wrong with Soviet munitions and military practices over the years. I can think of about six or seven other “accidents” with Soviet and Russian munitions stored in their depots over the years, and they’re all of the same sort and have origins in some complicated issues.

      One, the Soviets did not design for safety. Most Western-designed munitions, coming out of the American mentality for design, are biased towards safety. If something doesn’t happen in the firing chain, the munition won’t detonate. This leads to a higher dud rate, and a higher chance of the munition not working when used against the enemy. It does imply safer handling, and fewer accidents when in use, however. Soviet munitions are typically biased towards functioning when fired against the enemy, so there are far fewer safety features designed in.

      The Bundeswehr opted to destroy in situ most of what the Soviets left behind in East Germany, rather than even risk transporting it to sell or demilitarize. There are reasons why most East German weapons systems were not taken up by the unified state–The safety designs were deemed way too risky.

      Two, the Soviets opted towards cheaper explosive fillers in their munitions, which were less stable and prone to degradation towards more sensitivity.

      Three, there was the comparatively shoddy and casual approach taken towards manufacture, which exacerbated the problems. In some ways, the cheaper and less precise manufacture actually worked out for them–Soviet anti-tank mines are notoriously less prone to being affected by blast overpressure, which is why our clearance techniques are mostly just for show. Cheaper springs, less sensitive fuzing, and a bunch of other things go into this.

      Four, you have to take into account the sloppy way the Soviets ran everything. In a Western ordnance depot, you are never going to find munitions stacked outside in the weather, exposed to the elements, and not inside igloo-style bunkers isolated by blast walls. Soviet facilities barely qualified as such, and would never be accepted by any Western military. They built up stocks of ancient, decaying munitions that literally had become too unstable to move, and kept them because “reasons”. It was all about having the stocks, not whether they were usable or safe. WWII mentality, basically–Unsafe and out of date munitions were better than nothing, and if they blow up, so what? The numbers were up.

      Then, there was facilities design itself–Often, there were not enough storage igloos on sites to store the munitions sent there, so they’d resort to piling everything up outside, in the open, and without any form of blast isolation. You look at some aerial photos, and it’s just… Nuts. We do a better job with field ammunition supply points than the Soviets did with their permanent facilities, if that tells you anything.

      Fifth problem was the quality of manpower and the training. There have been a couple of cases with them blowing up their munitions dumps simply through incredible stupidity–Conscripts smoking near the stored munitions, starting grass fires to clear brush rather than cut it down, all sorts of things. And, on top of it all, piss-poor discipline.

      The whole thing is completely in consonance with Soviet culture, and after seventy years of that crap, it is now endemic to Russia and the former countries that were the Soviet Union. Only ones who seem less inclined towards institutional idiocy are the Baltic states, and why that is I’ll leave for someone else to speculate on.

      Chernobyl wasn’t a one-time fluke–There’s something deeply off with Soviet/Russian mentalities when it comes to this stuff. The Russians are the only people I’m aware of who have managed to blow up a major hydroelectric plant. If you want another example of “expert culture” at work, there ya go–Do a search on “Sayano-Shushenskaya power station accident”.

      None of the various top-down models we have for running things do very well over any sort of lengthy time-frame. They all eventually devolve into incompetence and politics taking precedence over everything else. The more top-down, the more massive the failures that inevitably occur. It’s almost like it’s a feature of such systems.

    36. Mike K Says:

      kirk, that was kind of my point. The Soviets had no concerns for safety as there was no one to complain who mattered outside the nomenklatura.

      I remember one anecdote from my reading about the old USSR. Soviet citizens who could afford cars never bought one made on a Friday. The serial number included the date and Friday made cars were avoided as the work was extra sloppy on that day.

      The political system we have is not Capitalism, it is the free market and is slowly sliding away. For my own field of Medicine it is the reason why the NHS is so sloppy. A surgeon friend in England told me that Muslim nurses and female doctors do not wash their arms. The females do not wash above the wrist because of “modesty.” Hospital, infection rates are soaring. Nothing can be done.

      The unsafe practices of the USSR were originated in politics.

    37. James the lesser Says:

      I figure that IQ represents the ability to abstract and manipulate abstractions skillfully. Once you figure out the ground rules for the game you’re supposed to be playing, high IQ can help you really shine.

      But if you’re not encouraged to learn the rules of different games–and it sounds like Marker was disinclined to learn the rules of the public health game–you can follow the logic of your limited abstractions into disaster. As discussed above, the USSR was another good example–model reality with some production and consumption numbers and you can rigorously optimize your economy, right?

      Human factors, and sometimes human lives, don’t always show up in the models. Sometimes they shouldn’t. I don’t know of a simple rule to tell us when. There’s no algorithmic substitute for wisdom.

    38. Kirk Says:

      James, you’ve put your finger on the nub of it: The root problem we’ve got here isn’t the IQ test regime and all the follow-on from it, but the uses we’ve put all of that to. We have mistaken a map for the terrain, much as if you tried to look at one of those heavily stylized subway maps from the London Underground, and use it to make a relief feature model of the terrain around London and the Thames River Valley.

      It’s just like anything where the game comes to overwhelm the activity it was meant to model–If you lose fidelity to reality, the game becomes useless as a model, and actually begins to detract from its original training purpose. You see a lot of this in the marksmanship world–The Biathlon was originally a purely military event, with full-bore rifles, realistic shooting tasks, and the participants in military uniform. Now? Holy crap… Bright spandex, rifles that are so hyper-specialized as to be useless for any other activity, and on and on. The game no longer reflects reality.

      And, I submit that that is precisely what has happened with much of our academic world, traced back to the early days where use of the IQ test started going off the rails. It’s not just the IQ test, though–It’s the whole structure of the thing. The error has perpetuated itself and flowed out into general society. The abstract thinker is a useful tool with a useful role in society, but the inherent nature that all too many of them have is that they get lost in their little hypothetical worlds, and lose complete track of the actual reality of things and people.

      You are right–There is no algorithm for wisdom or judgment. The only thing you can do is apply objective observation to the results of what someone does, and say “Yeah, you were right… Let us continue on your path…”. What we’ve been doing for the last long while is to look at what the charlatans have told us, baffled by their sweet-smelling lies, and said “Well, that didn’t work… Let us do some more of that…”. We need to stop listening to these credentialed idiots, and recognize that what doesn’t work, doesn’t work. All you get from listening to failure is more failure on a grander scale.

      Which, I am afraid, is exactly what we have been doing, as a society. I’ve been calling this the Woodrow Wilson Syndrome in my head, for years–And, while he wasn’t the first sort of “Intellectual yet idiot” figure in American public life, he was certainly one of the earliest successes of that ilk. We need to start weeding that sort out of decision-making positions, because while they sometimes provide interesting insights into things, they more often create disasters.

    39. Mike K Says:

      You are right–There is no algorithm for wisdom or judgment. The only thing you can do is apply objective observation to the results of what someone does, and say “Yeah, you were right

      In Bismarck’s aphorism, “I think fools learn from experience. I prefer to learn from other’s experience.” Learning is the problem.

      An example of theory run amok is “Global Warming.”

      “There are some ideas so absurd that only an intellectual could believe them.”

      ― George Orwell

    40. David Foster Says:

      The writer Andre Maurois observed that people who are *intelligent* but not at all *creative* tend to be enthusiastic adopters of intellectual systems created by others, and to apply those systems more rigidly than the originators of the systems would have done.

    41. David Foster Says:

      Regarding the game and the activity, see my post The Map is Not the Territory:

      https://chicagoboyz.net/archives/49633.html

      Somewhat related, a very good executive I knew remarked that “once you get to a certain management level, it’s like watching a movie where you only get to see occasional frames, and have to figure out what’s going on based on that.”

    42. Kirk Says:

      @David Foster,

      I must have missed that post, back when you made it. I don’t think I was commenting here then, and I don’t remember reading it.

      There’s a lot of what I’m trying to get at in kaizen and Toyota-style lean management; I’m just applying it to more than manufacture. We badly need to start using those principles in daily life, analyzing what our government and its agents are doing.

      Frankly, 99.99% of our government would likely be evaluated as things that a manager trying to implement kaizen or Toyota methods needed to get rid of. They don’t work, and the majority are actually diametrically inimical to their stated purpose, like that EPA sub-agency that released all that mine waste into the river they were supposedly trying to protect…

      Your government starts doing things like that, it’s past time to start working on oversight and accountability for the responsible parties. Way past time…

    43. Mike K Says:

      I just lost a long comment by clicking the preview window accidentally. Arrgh !

      Anyway, the comment was in response to kirk’s above on lean practices.

      I referenced a previous post on the use of lean practices in healthcare.

    44. Kirk Says:

      @Mike K,

      Lean is one of those things that has its uses, and also has places where you’d never, ever want to use it.

      I’m sure you’re familiar with the “Cockpit Crew Management” regimes that have fixed a lot of issues in aviation safety over the last few years.

      What I think we need a hell of a lot more of is similar practices in government, to where there are objective assessments of policy and practices, periodically re-done to verify everything still works as intended.

      What’s amazing, when you stop and contemplate it, is how little “critical” work is done with regards to law and administration. Everything that government does, from the local city up to Congress and the Federal government, ought to have as a preface “Here is what this law/regulation is intended to do”, followed by the implementing legislation. Every five to ten years, we ought to be going back and saying “OK, that was the intent… Did it work? Why not? Is it still valid? Do we still need this?”. If you can’t answer to the positive for any of those, then by God, it ought to go right out.

      And, if you can’t state the intent of a law in objective terms, then it shouldn’t be allowed in. Other than specific basic generalities like your rights and the other things like “no murdering” that should go without saying.

      Every law and regulation ought to have a sunset provision, and a stated purpose. If you can prove the purpose isn’t working, then you can’t be prosecuted under it.

      Too much cruft has been allowed to grow up around our system of governance. We need to do something about that.

    45. Gavin Longmuir Says:

      Kirk — There are lots of actions which could be taken to bring sense to our overgrown legal/regulatory system. Here are my 4 favorites:

      1. Anyone with a law degree is prohibited from holding elective office. Elected officials can hire lawyers to advise them, but no more lawyers writing laws.

      2. No government agency can issue any regulation. Citizens are bound to obey only the explicit language of laws passed by democratically-elected officials.

      3. It takes a 60% vote to pass any law, and a 40% vote to repeal any law.

      4. Persons holding an elective office are prohibited from running for any elective office, including the one they currently occupy. And no person can ever receive a pension for time served in elective offices.

      Of course, none of this will ever happen until after the current crew of “Women in White” run the Ship of State onto the rocks.

    46. Mike K Says:

      The legislative branch has been destroyed by the McCain Finegold law. This was a temper tantrum (one of many ) by John McCain after he was bamboozled into the Keating Five as a naive freshman Senator by four old crooked Democrats who saw him as a “Mark.”

      The result has been that members, especially House members, spend all their time fund raising while their staff writes the legislation. The staffers carefully write 2,000 page bills with vague language, then either move over to the regulatory agency to write the real legislation or play toss-the-ball with their pals and allies in the lobbies and agencies to see that everyone has plenty of work and gets plenty of rice in their rice bowls.

      For example. Hillarycare failed because she excluded all providers and insurance companies from her secret task force of bureaucrats that wrote the bill. When the Democrats took Congress in 2006, they began to write what became Obamacare but they let insurance company lobbyists and 25 year old staff lawyers write the bill.

      You have to understand that insurance companies HATE health insurance because of the politics. What they do like is to act as “Administrative Service Organizations” that process claims for employers. The employer pays the claims but the insurance company staff processes the claims. The more claims, the more money they make.

      Obamacare was a bonanza for ASOs and the Feds would take the place of the employer. The insurance companies had no downside as Obamacare would guarantee their losses. Why do you think all the ridiculous rules about 60 year old women paying for Obstetrics came from? Why do you think cheap plans that cover trauma for young people were banned ?

    47. MCS Says:

      The problem with lawyer politicians is that they are invariably lousy lawyers if they ever even practiced at all. What we really need to get rid of is the laughable notion that law school teaches some sort of super-duper way of solving problems. Still, keeping them out of government would be a good place to start.

    48. Kirk Says:

      It’s always struck me as a rather profound stupidity that our system allows the very people who benefit most from obfuscation and general lack of clarity in law to be the ones who also write it…

      Personally, I think we ought to have a system to where every piece of regulation and legislation ought to have as its first paragraph a clear statement of intent as to what that particular thing is meant to accomplish, and if you can show that the administration of said law or regulation isn’t accomplishing that end in actual reality, you can challenge it and have it struck down. Further, if the legislation or regulation is not written at an understandable 6th or 8th grade level, such that a high-functioning Down’s Syndrome child cannot understand it, then it is also automatically invalid.

      Frankly, if the laws and regulations are such that they can’t be understood, then they ought to be invalid. Period. As well, if they’re buried in a mass of obfuscated text, or generally unknown…? Throw ’em out. Everything that could put you into prison or cost you your life’s work ought to be clearly spelled out in a document no bigger than about the size of something you could read in an afternoon of dedicated reading. Specialized areas would of course need more depth, but the general run of what a basic citizen needs to know should be clearly laid out and in a compact enough form that they don’t need a law degree to understand it. Can’t manage that with your law or regulation? Buh-bye. Thank you for wasting all our time, please go away and never return.

      Some lawyers are good people who do good things. There are others who are the scum of the earth, and whose genes should be expunged from the population. Ratio of those categories? No idea, really. I’ve run into both sorts, TBH, and about all I’ll say is that none of them should be involved in writing either law or regulation, except in an extremely limited advisory capacity.