Thursday, March 12, 2020

COVID-19 in the news

Movie megastar Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson have both tested positive for COVID-19. Hanks on social media is his usual calm, reassuring self. The man has access to top-flight healthcare, so I can't say I'm all that worried for him or for his wife. As a movie star, though, Hanks has been in contact with thousands of people, so I'm kinda worried for them.

You heard that Senator Ted Cruz voluntarily self-isolated after shaking hands with a person later found to be virus-positive?

President Trump temporarily bans travel from Europe, except from the UK.

Funny title: "Islamic Scholar Who Called Wuhan Virus 'God's Punishment' Gets Infected"

The WHO finally declares the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. This is why faith in bureaucracies is always misplaced: bureaucracies are the last to know and the last to act. All you big-government idiots (and you pro-corporation idiots, too) need to remember that. Bureaucracies are mediocrity factories interested in their own survival and flourishing. If you want something done, and done right, get it done locally and stick to small organizations.

Media bias: from "Trump's Katrina" to "Trump's Chernobyl."

KEYWORDS: bureaucracy, mediocrity, bureaucratic mediocrity, COVID-19, coronavirus, pandemic, Tom Hanks, Islam, Islamic scholar, WHO, Ted Cruz, Donald Trump


  1. Well, I'd take corporate bureaucracy over government bureaucracy anytime. the difference is accountability. There is no accountability in government. In business you produce or you are replaced. It makes a huge difference.

    As you know, I worked in the federal government for most of my life. Once I was in a leadership development program (it was actually called Excellence in Government, now there's a contradiction in terms!) where we visited private sector companies to gain new insights and perspectives. The company that really sticks in my mind was GE. During a meeting with the HR director, he told us that the CEO had a policy where the top 20% of performers were generously rewarded and promoted, "the vital middle" 60% were also recognized for their contributions. The bottom 20% were put on performance improvement plans. They then had one year to work themselves up to the middle 60% or they were separated. I asked the obvious question: After a while aren't those bottom 20% outstanding employees in their own right? The HR director said he had brought that up to the CEO. The CEO responded: "it's impossible to not have a bottom 20%".

    For most of my career, my job was to make sure employees fired for performance or misconduct stayed fired through the various administrative appeals processes available to government employees. We only went through that time and expense for the very worst of the worst, certainly far less the 1% of the workforce.

    That's why all this talk of government-run healthcare is scary shit. As bad as you may think the private sector is doing, I have no doubt the government will do it worse.

  2. I'm not sure how accountable the higher levels of a corporation are. Those guys seem to get away with murder long before they're either dragged into court or fired by their board of directors. My point is that corporations and the government are both labyrinthine factories of mediocrity: doing anything by committee, which is what corporations and the government do, is a quick way to guarantee a so-so or outright shitty product. If I have a choice between a hamburger made by a culinarily talented friend or a Big Mac made by a corporation, I'll pick my friend's burger ten times out of ten.



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