Sunday, May 25, 2008

Torches. Pitchforks. Tar. Feathers. A Rail.

Begin with these ingredients. And you need to read this. Maybe twice. No, it is required. There will be a quiz later on. (HT: Dangercrat)

The USACOE built & rebuilt & repaired levees & floodwalls are stuffed with newspaper and leaking. The backup systems for their emergency response plans are not in place. Their actions are incomprehensible. They have no credibility left and should either be removed from the project, forced to outsource to competent contractors (like the Dutch), or at the very least be placed under the close and direct supervision of a civilian board of scientists & engineers. A heavily armed civilian board of scientists & engineers, so lessons may be taught, as needed.

I had to teach my students - the ones who believe that the levees were blown up - an old malleable quote sometimes attributed to Napoleon, otherwise as Hanlon's Razor: "Never ascribe to conspiracy or malice that which can be explained by incompetence and stupidity."

Incompetence and stupidity are killing our country. It isn't an ideology, or a political party or a conspiracy. It is not because of who allegedly stupid people vote for, or even that the people who have been "running things" for the last 20 years think we're too stupid to catch on.

Part of it is because anti-intellectualism has been around for a long time. It isn't cool to be smart. We demonize teachers and college professors while we lionize Larry the Cable Guy, Jackass and Bling-Bling thug culture. We're not falling to the bottom, we're racing to get there.

It is because whatever sector of this nation you work in - defense, education, business, disaster policy, wherever - if you go high enough, you will find someone of desperate importance who has no clue how to do their job, yet they keep getting paid and people continue to listen to and cover for them.

They don't even know how they got the job. Hell, they don't even know how lucky they are not to walk through moving airplane propellers. They just know that one day, they walked into their office and for some reason eveyrone started complaining about needing something done that they didn't know how to do. Instead of actually learning their own job requirements, or figuring out exactly what it was they were getting paid for, they got defensive. They didn't listen to smarter people who gave them advice, training or marching orders because nobody can tell them anything.

For the last 10 years while they should have been doing what they were getting paid to do, they were spending time blaming someone else or trying to prove why they aren't at fault. Because people at that level get paid anyway, even when they're fired for not doiong their job.

(Explain to me, again, why "capitalism - the stupid people version" rewards failure so handsomely...)

Soon the stink of this will be too bad and change will come. The course will correct. It won't be perfect, but it will be better. It happens, societies move in cycles. I just hope that change is worth the wait. I also hope we don't have to go through too many more disasters before we get to that point.



DADvocate said...

I suppose I should thank you for the link. :-)

The only thing I disagree with suspect-device on is this "middle-class conservative reaction to the university riots of the ’60s." I participated in a "riot" or two, athough in the early 70s. I'm not denying suspect's point but he leaves out the lame pseudo-intellectualism of the left with its twisted logic that helped create a jaundiced view of intellect. The two wrongs make a right logic of affirmative action stands as a landmark of twisted logic of the left.

As for your post, you're right on. Acceptable incompetence has reach heights never before imagined. This is partly due to factors other than competence, such as gender, race, national origion, etc, being required to be considered as part of job requirements. The Federal government lead the way (and still does) in this department. At this moment Congress seems hopefully incompetent on both sides of the aisle. God help us all.

sophmom said...

Yeah. The rail (as if). Great post. I loved Greg's post too. Your logic takes it an interesting step further, the notion that it's ingrained and rewarded. I think it's all about infected culture, family-style dysfunction writ large. Thanks for the shout.

Are you there yet? Have you retreated to the houses of healing, I mean, the beach?


S.A.W.B. said...

Two Words - Vote Libertarian. Return the bulk of the powers of change to the local and state level, where it belongs.

Keep the high level functions of government, i.e. National Defense, where it belongs, at the Federal level.

Until then, you and I and everyone else are fighting the same losing battle against the Dempublicans and Republocrats, both racing against time to spend every last cent you bring in, 'for the common good'.

Other than cutting a check, the Feds should be no more involved in this than I am. The city of New Orleans/State of Louisiana, should be able to choose their own damned levee contractor, because, then it's blood on their own hands, not the faceless entity of 'The President' or 'FEMA' or, 'Them Crooks In Washington'.

Expect a post in the near future on my own contributions to the 'rebuilding efforts' in NOLA...