Incompmalice

Hanlon's Razor [1]:

Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence.

However, don't leave out the option that something can be ascribed to both malice and incompetence:

Katherine Eban, How Jared Kushner’s Secret Testing Plan “Went Poof Into Thin Air”, Vanity Fair (2020-07-31).

I assumed that we—the United States, collectively, whatever that might mean—were going to sort out the issues vis-à-vis our coronavirus response by the end of May. I told my wife that we would definitely fumble the initial response but, when faced with a real crisis, we would get our collective act together and meet the challenge. That's what we do. Slow to react, but decisive when the deal goes down.

And yet *makes a sweeping gesture with right arm to indicate the breadth of the entire kingdom* here we are.

Looking back, there were a few moments when I realized that we were in trouble (although I didn't expect still-dealing-with-problems-in-August kind of trouble):

  1. N95 masks out of stock in February. In the first week of February, I went to five different Lowe's stores before finding any N95 masks in stock. There was an underlying feeling of "uh oh, the supply chain isn't reacting to this".
  2. During the second week of work-from-home (mid-March sometime), I went for a run in Queeny Park in the middle of the day and it was packed. Cars parked in the grass, cars turning the entrance road into a parking lot, people everywhere on the paths. While it is true that the fresh air and sunshine is good for your immune system, that doesn't account for the fact that being surrounded by people increases the probability that your immune system gets a chance to test itself against virus that spreads from person to person. I took a three-month break from running after that.
  3. Jared Kushner was tasked to lead some of the coronavirus response.

I mean… when the deal goes down, you want an expert to get the job done, or at least someone who can organize a team of experts. I mean… when you are the literal United States, you can call on the resources of the entire United States to get the job done. Instead, what happens is that you get family and loyalists called in to solve the problem. And the rest is history—which isn't even true because history is the past and we're all living weird, stilted lives while some people get shipped out in boxes in the present.

I want to say something blithe like "I hope history isn't kind to these people". But it's not even what I think about the whole thing. Our fields are all behind the same levee here. Even if it's clever to point out that your idiot neighbor's field is flooded—your field is flooded, too. And if your neighbor blew up the levee to punish another neighbor that the felt deserved it—your field is flooded, too. All that is maddening enough, but then you see your neighbor float off on a boat with pontoons filled with $100 bills.

Not all but much of this was avoidable.


[1] Not digging into the why or wherefore of the quote. https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Robert_J._Hanlon and https://quoteinvestigator.com/2016/12/30/not-malice/ are good enough for me for now, etc. For my money, Robert Hanlon is a corruption of Robert Heinlein.

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