“Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity”. This simple idea, commonly known as Hanlon’s razor, is a golden rule when it comes to judging people’s behaviour in the world. Especially when it comes to politicians and their failed policies. As much as we would like to think that the people who disagree with us are evil, malicious, or motivated by hate, it is rarely the truth. People in general and politicians in particular cause the most damage through simple ignorance, laziness, and most of all stupidity.
I’ve often heard the opinion that Donald Trump is an evil genius and all of his actions are part of a convoluted master-plan aimed at hurting this or that group. Now, I don’t think he is particularly evil and there certainly isn’t any lack of evidence that he is not a genius either. Like any other politician, he is just ignorant, confused, and incapable of running anything more than a bath. Unlike most other politicians, he is just bad at hiding it.
However, contrary to popular opinion he is not the biggest problem of this pandemic. While the media would like to build on top of their existing “Orange Man Bad” narrative, the truth is that some of the worst policies of stupidity come courtesy of the people they usually praise as all-knowing experts. The grand prize of “Pandemic’s Dipshit of the Month” has to go to people actually responsible for implementing coronavirus-tackling policies in the United States. Specifically, the state health officials of New York and Pennsylvania.
In my previous post I have mentioned the disproportionately high mortality rate of the elderly due to the pandemic. Age is the most important risk factor of this disease and it would therefore only make sense to make sure nursing homes are provided with the highest level of protection. However, until recently the nursing homes in New York, the hardest hit state in the US, were forced to admit patients with Covid-19. The state locked down the productive parts of the population and at the same time mandated the importation of the virus into the places that house the most vulnerable parts of the population. The policy changed only after 5% of the total nursing home population of New York had died.
While the media praised Gov. Cuomo for his handling of the Covid-19 situation, he oversaw a policy so deadly, that it can only be attributed to a level of stupidity exclusive to government bureaucrats. Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr Levine recently came under fire after pulling her mother out of a care home, while the state government ordered such facilities to accept Covid-19 patients. This raised concerns that the state government was well aware of the devastating effect of its policies as the long-term care facilities make up 70% of the state’s death toll. Could be an oversight. Could be wilful blindness. Could just be plain old incompetence.
Either way there is a take-home message from this. Don’t trust government policies just because they are put forward by some sort of an authority. Especially if you like them. People in the government are as informed about policy as the average person, only they care less of its impacts. They lock us all down because then they can’t be blamed of any deaths, regardless if it’s the best option. They order sick patients to be shipped into nursing homes because they don’t want to be blamed for overcrowded hospitals during the pandemic. They hardly think those two steps ahead about how it’s going to impact people.
Think of politicians in charge of your country the same way you would think of a toddler with a box of fireworks in your house. There is no point in engaging in any philosophical assumptions about the moral dichotomy of their decisions. Just keep watching their every move with utmost scepticism and presume that the moment you turn your back on them, your house is gonna burn to the ground.