I just finished THE FIFTH RISK by Michael Lewis–quite a shocking expose of the Trump administration’s ineptitude in the transition to a new government after the election. By glimpses into the Energy, Commerce and Agriculture Departments transition teams in 2017, Mr. Lewis notes an apparent willful ignorance and inability to carry on the useful functions of government that we all take for granted and desperately need for a functioning society. Several messages are of note–
- “If your ambition is to maximize short-term gain without regard to the long-term cost, you are better off not knowing the cost.”
- “If you want to preserve your personal immunity to the hard problems, it’s better never to really understand those problems.”
- “There is an upside to ignorance, and a downside to knowledge.”
- “Knowledge make life messier. It makes it a bit more difficult for a person who wishes to shrink the world to a worldview.”
- “A society runs [a significant risk] when it falls into the habit of responding to long-term risks with short-term solutions.”
- “‘My biggest concern is the misuse of science to support policies.'” [quote from Cathie Woteki, Department of Agriculture chief scientist in the Obama administration.
- “‘I’m routinely appalled by how profoundly ignorant even highly educated people are when it comes to the structure and function of government. The sense of identity as Citizen has been replaced by Consumer. The idea that government should serve the citizens like a waiter or concierge, rather than in a ‘collective good’ sense.'” [quote from Kath Sullivan, former astronaut and scientist in the Obama administration Department of Commerce]
I have just been worried about the immediate effects of the indecency of our current president (http://mychildrenschildren.com/our-indecent-president-updated/) but now see that the pervasive effect of willful ignorance will persist for years to come. We can come back from these setbacks but it won’t be easy.