Hysterocrats: More Dangerous Than COVID – 19


We are committing cultural suicide and are being painfully slow to realize it. By now it’s clear that the “cure” for COVID – 19 is far worse than the disease. Our economy is on life support and no amount of government intervention will save it. Anyone with more than a room temperature I.Q. knows what we need to do – get people back to work ASAP. So how did we get this deeply into the abyss? There are three reasons:
We have turned our fate over to scientists, instead of common sense pragmatists. Over to people who live in a bubble, disconnected from real, everyday life. None of them are losing their jobs, their homes, and their children’s futures – and none of them work on commission.

We are still, in our society, worshipping intellectuals, in spite of their dismal track record of one disaster after another. Our culture made a fateful decision, after WWII, to install the highly educated as the high priests of American society. And we are now puzzling over the wreckage created by the University and the intelligentsia it props up. There is a reason that the Ph.D. is referred to as a terminal degree.

We have been unbelievably slow to realize that intellectuals are obsessed with the perfect, at the expense of the effective. No other group of people have taken us down so many dark tunnels convinced that things ought to be what they’re not. These days I often think of the black humor in the story of the university professor and the businesswoman walking down the street, engaged in conversation, when they realize that a train is barreling down the sidewalk. The businesswoman flings herself off the sidewalk, yelling for the professor to do likewise. He yells back at her saying – “Trains shouldn’t be coming down sidewalks.”

What we need now, desperately, is leadership. Leaders have three characteristics: Clarity, Decisiveness, And Tolerance For Risk.

Clarity is the ability to assemble information, data, and smart people, and, most importantly, critically consume the former, and really listen to the latter. Most holders of power, from my experience, tolerate input while preparing their responses. And finally, Clarity requires a gut-check. What does one’s feelings say. My work, over the past 40 years, has taught me that reliance, ultimately, on one’s gut, is rarely wrong; while reliance on one’s head is misguided well over 50% of the time.

Decisiveness is the ability to make regret-free choices, knowing that it is inevitable that some of those choices will prove to be mistaken. One indelible lesson that the internet has taught us, is the discomforting truth that we will never have all the information we think we need to make a decision. Waiting and incessantly collecting more and more data, is the road to paralysis and self-destruction.

The Tolerance for Risk is the ability to arrive at a conclusion and take action, knowing that the action taken will upset, infuriate, and even hurt people.

Clarity and Decisiveness create two groups of people: Advocates and Enemies. Successful leaders understand the all crises and difficult situations share one characteristic in common: All the choices suck. And their inherent lousy job is to make the choice that sucks the least. So, in the debate over stay at home or allow many people to return to their jobs, the issue is not, whether one values people over money (one of those moronic dichotomies the media loves) but, much less simplistically and more agonizingly; which cost, in human suffering, will be greater. Waiting for the virus to abate while the economy disintegrates (and devours the very resources needed to help the critically ill); or exposing many people to the likelihood of contracting the virus (most of which will suffer and recover, but some of which will die), and maintaining our economic viability and likelihood of societal recovery.

My final thought about the COVID – 19 nightmare. Before any of us are tempted to get on our self righteous high horse and take shots at our current political class; ask yourself what lousy choice you’d make, if it were up to you.

Morrie Shechtman

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