Submitted by Bryce Laliberte
Assuming incompetence as a factor to explain a disaster brought on by bureaucratic mismanagement is a useful prejudice in discerning how the failure of social policies comes about. The managers tell us a policy is being put in place to increase a certain outcome, and usually the policy has at least a facile credibility to it which it is easy to imagine persuading the foolish and shortsighted. Often we can detect incompetence in both the idea motivating the policy as well as the implementation. Perhaps it is a dictum most accurate in describing what we observe under “normal” circumstances. Under extraordinary circumstances, however, we might be better off recognizing our enemies acting under selfish, destructive motives, only using the guise of stupidity as a cover for their bloodlust.
Is it better to be a fool, or is it better to be evil? That is a question of morality beyond the reckoning laid out here. But it seems evident that, as a matter of public perception, it is better to be perceived as a fool than evil. A fool can be well-intentioned, and perhaps even trusted in those situations which are legitimately foolproof. But an evil man cannot be trusted. If the public forms the perception that a man is evil, then even if he were well-intentioned, he could not implement his policies, as any person acting under that perception will resist what they discern must have an evil intent. So it is no wonder politicians and bureaucrats act the fool so well, because otherwise they would have no ability to implement their ideas.
One of the most surrealistic episodes of the COVID drama was New York Governor Cuomo ordering nursing homes to admit patients known to be infected with COVID. Any fool with even the least knowledge of health and infectious disease could easily discern the almost certain outcome. Nursing homes are full of the sick and elderly. A light breeze would send them to their deaths – and COVID was a stiff breeze. A man in his prime can survive COVID easily – a person well past his prime would easily die. And so, as any fool could expect, the elderly patients of nursing homes died in the thousands. If Cuomo had simply had the elderly taken out in the back and shot in the head, it would have been a mercy, but then the comparisons to concentration camps would be too obvious.
Is Cuomo a fool? I don’t think we can allow him that excuse. He is the governor of one of the most prosperous and educated states in the United States. He cannot be a fool. He is surrounded by men and women of great intelligence, drive, and foresight. He knew what he was doing. His order was an execution. He murdered these elderly and frail dependents of the nursing home system. There is no excuse. He committed one of the most vividly evil acts of any politician in perhaps the entire history of the United States. To what end? Politics.
Would Cuomo be hurt, politically speaking, by his evil? Probably not. The deaths would be counted against Trump by the media and every institution that knows Democrats butter their bread. They were murdered to paint Trump an incompetent buffoon. And Cuomo was not alone in seizing upon the opportunity COVID presented, to sacrifice Americans in the noble pursuit of political fortune.
Pfizer and Biontech announced success in developing a vaccine for COVID November 9, 2020, conspicuously 6 days after the presidential election. Did they intentionally delay their announcement to avoid any favor to Trump? Every day of delay would mean thousands of deaths. Do you think mega corporations would sacrifice human lives for the sake of political profit? It is not exactly unknown whether they would sacrifice human lives for financial profit.
In late October 2020, a push was made in congress to give every American a $2,000 check to relieve those whose finances had been hurt by the pandemic lockdown. Naturally, Pelosi inserted amendments to the bill so odious the entire bill was stalled. After the election, the amendments were removed and a measly $600 doled out over a month later.
Then there is the matter of the lockdowns themselves. Having been one of the earliest to recognize the threat of COVID and the likelihood it would become a pandemic in the United States, I was not personally opposed to aggressive measures to counter-act its spread. Of course, none of the measures I would have implemented were actually used. What was required to mitigate the harm of the virus was shutting down all international travel in January. We also required granular rules to protect the most at-risk and provide them with financial relief while the rest who were least at-risk could continue going about our lives, with the virus burning itself out on that portion of the population it posed the least risk to and exhausting vectors. The measures politicians imposed were as disastrous as possible while treading in that grey area of plausible deniability. The actual effect of the lockdowns were extremely harmful.
The most harmed? The most reliable base of Trump voters – trade workers, unionists, and small business owners. The white collar clerical workers could work at home without losing any income. Now, of course, it is likely a great deal of foolishness and incompetence has been mixed in, by people who really thought they were doing the best – there are too many involved in the decision-making process to suppose they were all evil. But were some evil? I do not know. I know we have examples of individuals murdering people in the pursuit of political fortune. Would people who murder for the sake of politics, murder and impoverish for the sake of politics. Perhaps. One can form their own private opinion.
To come back to our dictum, we may reserve it as a way to explain much that we observe. But there are some who occupy positions that we simply cannot afford to treat them as fools. Even if a fool does happen to gain such a position of power, and we judge them evil for their incompetence, the effect remains beneficial – evil will not suppose they can hide behind the judgment of foolishness.