Most people out on the fringe, which is getting rather crowded of late, are more than a bit angry and bitter. It’s hard to be a sunny optimist when you sense that the world is going to shit and there’s nothing that can stop it. Turn on the TV looking for sports, only to see them parading around a mentally disturbed man in drag and you have to wonder if blowing it all up is not what’s best.
The truth is mass media makes the weird seem common, but it is no more common than in previous eras. When I was a teenager back in the last Maunder minimum, a friend dated a girl who lived with her father as her mother had died when she was a child. Dad had no woman in his life, but he had a closet full of women’s clothes. As long as he kept it out of the streets, people politely ignored it. Today he would be on display by the mass media.
Similarly, the corruption we see with monied interests and the governing elites is nothing new. Kings granted lands and titles to their favorites who just happened to fill their coffers with gold. A century ago bankers and monopolists controlled western governments, buying politicians at every level. Government has always been for sale and it always will be for sale as long as humans are in charge. No man is so virtuous that he will refuse the highest bidder.
The real trouble we face, the true crisis of the age, is the mounting incompetence at all levels of government. We can joke around about failing up, but it is a real problem when it involves necessary work not getting done. In a prior age, there was a limit to the corruption because things had to get done. In the “post-scarcity” world, the people in charge operate as if there’s never any cost to their failures.
And they can for forgiven for thinking this. Take a look at the career of Marilyn Tavenner. She has been in government and quasi-government her whole life. No, public hospitals in America are not private enterprise. Her career before getting to DC is impossible to judge from where I sit, but her Washington career has been nothing but a string of disasters. Now, she is cashing in to be lobbyist.
Former Medicare chief Marilyn Tavenner has been hired as the new CEO of America’s Health Insurance Plans, representing an industry that she helped regulate during the turbulent launch of Obamacare.
The powerful K Street lobbying group’s announcement Wednesday comes months after Tavenner, a nurse and former hospital CEO, stepped down as the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. At the agency, she was responsible for writing many of Obamacare’s rules and oversaw the troubled rollout — and repair — of the HealthCare.gov enrollment website.
If you are an aspiring screw-up, you have to look at this as a great inspiration. If you are good at polishing the right apples and know how to toady to the right people, you too can get fabulously rich off the taxpayers, even you are a colossal screw-up. In this case, Mx. Tavenner is hired because she is on good terms with all the other screw-ups in the bureaucracy.
Smart fraction theory asserts that a nation’s per capita GDP is determined by the population fraction with IQ greater than or equal to some threshold IQ. Consistent with the data of Lynn and Vanhanen, that threshold IQ is 108. The more people you have in that fraction, the more stupid people they can carry up the economic ladder. Detroit has few people with an IQ over 108, while San Francisco has many.
You have to wonder if something similar is going on with government.The Iron Triangle of government consists of interest groups, members of congressional subcommittees, and agency bureaucrats. Interest groups lobby politicians through their staffers (bribes) who pass laws for agency bureaucrats to implement. Since agency bureaucrats are not very bright, they rely on interest groups to write the implementing regulations.
That is not as bad as it sounds as industry works as a brake on the incompetence of the bureaucrats and the lunacy of the political leg. The trouble is the government has grown so large and complex, industry needs insiders to work the system on their behalf. This is where screw-ups from the agency bureaucrat pool get into the blood stream of government.
The inept bureaucrat gets a job in the industry they regulate, but they are a screw-up so the industry finds a home for them back in the bureaucracy or on the staff of a politician, usually at a higher level than they started. In time, these staffers cycle back into the bureaucracy, replaced by some other screw-up that was plucked from the bureaucracy by the special interests.
In this process, the number of competent people remains fixed while the number of screw-ups multiply. There’s a point where agencies are so loaded down with stupid people and screw-ups they no longer function in a predictable manner. Most of what gets done is pointless, the rest is mischief.