COVID-19 has seen America develop a dangerous expertocracy
People are beginning to realize that the experts have been wrong about a lot of things when it comes to COVID-19. This is due in part to the ever-changing knowledge we’re acquiring about the disease. It’s a good thing that the experts can adjust their ideas as they acquire new evidence. The problem, though, is that we are allowing medicine and science experts to make vast, unquestioned policy decisions, and that’s a perilous thing to do.
Ever since the early Progressives, back at the turn of the 20th century, Americans, especially Democrats, have had a reverence for expertise. Woodrow Wilson, who was the leader of American Progressivism, was already dreaming of rule by experts when he was still a Bryn Mawr College professor.
In 1887, Wilson wrote a far-reaching paper dismissing the Constitution as defective (too much power for the people) and, instead, called for a bureaucracy of experts to run the country. America’s rising middle-class fell in love with the idea and has been in love with it ever since. Nowadays, we look to experts in everything, including raising our own children -- and we do this despite the conflicting information they give and the daily proof that, the more theoretical the subject, the more often they are wrong (and wrong in ways that run profoundly contrary to common sense).
There’s a different approach to things, however, one that Scott Adams, an out-of-the-box thinker, calls “talent stacking”:
The idea of a talent stack is that you can combine ordinary skills until you have enough of the right kind to be extraordinary. You don’t have to be the best in the world at any one thing. All you need to succeed is to be good at a number of skills that fit well together.
Adams considers Trump’s success to be the result of “a powerful talent stack”:
President Trump also has a powerful talent stack. He isn’t the best communicator in the world, but he is very good. He doesn’t know as much about politics as career politicians do, but apparently he knows enough. He isn’t the smartest person who ever ran for office, but he’s very smart. He might not be the best business strategist in the world, but he certainly knows his stuff. I could go on for pages about how Trump has good-but-not-world-class skills in a variety of areas. And when you put all of those talents together it makes him the most persuasive human I have ever observed. Trump’s talent stack was powerful enough to make him president. And I don’t think it was an accident that he developed a talent stack so powerful. It looks intentional to me.
The people who are currently calling the shots for America’s response to COVID-19 do not have any talent stacks. They are merely “experts.” With all due respect to Anthony Fauci and others like him, all they see is disease.
These experts fit the old saying that, to a hammer, everything is a nail. Because they know disease and want to stamp out disease, they will suggest the most effective ways to achieve that goal. This is all well and good unless the treatment cures the disease but kills the patient -- which is what the experts are well on their way to doing with America.
As is so often the case, Tucker Carlson has figured this problem out already. He notes that Dr. Fauci has often been wrong, not because he’s stupid but because data is changing so quickly. Those errors, however, are actually less concerning than Fauci’s decision to aim a nuclear weapon at America to kill a virus. Fauci himself has become a guided missile:
Fauci is a “decent man” who “doesn’t want to hurt America,” Carlson contended, but he’s also “not an economist” or even “someone who fears being unemployed himself.” As such, he can look at things “through the narrow lens of his profession.”
“Ten million Americans out of work and staring at poverty. That is not quote ‘inconvenient,’ as you just heard Dr. Fauci put it. It’s horrifying. It’s a far bigger disaster than the virus itself, by any measure. Tony Fauci, decent as he may be, can’t see that, because he doesn’t think it’s his job to see it. But even a doctor should be able to think beyond the models. Our response to coronavirus could turn this into a far poorer nation. Poor countries are unhealthy countries, always and everywhere. In poor countries, people die of treatable diseases. In poor countries, people are far more vulnerable to obscure viruses, like the one we are fighting now. You want to keep Americans from dying before their time? Then don’t impoverish them. For all his credentials, experience and apparent decency, Dr. Anthony Fauci doesn’t seem to understand any of this, and we should never let someone like that run this country.”
In this life, we always make choices that have downsides – we drive cars, fly in planes, eat sugar, and do myriad other things because, in the risk-benefit analysis, the benefits outweigh the risks. The medical experts advising Trump are apparently too narrowly focused to do that. It's therefore time for Trump to make some difficult executive decisions.