I once believed that the world was run by professionals who knew what to do. I believed the best response to the crisis was to listen to the experts and do what they said, because they knew best and could be trusted to have our best interests at heart.
Yes, I was an idiot. I was young when I defended. Now I know better.
The list of expert flaws is long. The Vietnam War, which predated my early years as experts, was introduced by David Halberstam in the same book he mockingly called “the best and brightest.”
They were educated, at least highly educated, eloquent and respected by other ruling class people. And they released the first debacle.
Since then, we’ve seen many instances of expert incompetence – just look at economic management – but the most striking is the continuing generations of incompetence at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the rest of the public. outbreak control health facility.
A recent example is the government’s fight against monkeypox, which the Biden administration just declared a public health emergency. As the “New York Times” recently reported, the US government had 20 million doses of the monkey vaccine ten years ago. (It’s actually a smallpox vaccine called Jynneos, which is also effective against monkeypox.) But when we needed it, there were only 2,400 doses in the so-called National Strategic Stockpile, enough to vaccinate only 1,200 people.
How did this happen? Bureaucratic incompetence and the foot-dragging of the Food and Drug Administration. Bureaucrats allowed the vaccine to be extended rather than replaced because they wanted to develop a freeze-dried version with an extended shelf life. But the delay in FDA approval means that a new vaccine is not available even though the old vaccine has expired. As a result, when the vaccine was needed, nothing was available.
“I want people to know how bad it was, given the amount of money and resources that went into it,” said former CDC official Dr. Ali S. Khan.
Yes yes. To make matters worse, the vaccine — also intended to combat a bioterror-inspired smallpox outbreak — was stored outside the United States at the Danish manufacturer’s facilities, which created logistical problems of its own.
“The CDC should have spent the last 2+ decades preparing a concrete scenario of ‘What if someone resurrected smallpox and released it as a biological weapon.’ Now, when faced with a virus that is literally ‘Story Mode smallpox,’ they fail,” – Researcher Nicholas Weaver to watch. Monkeypox is “not hyper-virulent,” he notes, and vaccines, treatments and methods, such as contact tracing, have been developed to work well against smallpox. But the CDC has “completely and completely failed to prevent this increase.”
Well, it’s not the first time. The incompetence of the health care establishment regarding COVID is well known. First, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Anthony Fauci, downplayed the threat and burned a dime, causing it to die. The CDC developed a flawed test for COVID, then for months blocked other agencies from distributing competing tests that worked. (It’s doing the same thing with the monkey tests.) Fauci also turned the mask 180 degrees, concluding that the World Health Organization does more harm than good.
But the CDC’s weakness goes back even further. During the 2014 Ebola outbreak, the CDC also failed, admitting its performance was “rocky” because it was largely outmatched by health officials in countries like Nigeria. That collapse, five years before the advent of COVID, should have sounded the alarm — but the agency fell asleep.
And of course, during the AIDS outbreak of the 1980s, when Fauci first gained notoriety, the CDC’s record was very poor. In particular, Fauci pushed the false notion that heterosexuals were at the same risk for AIDS as gays and intravenous drug users. This has fueled excessive fear and dilution efforts to help endangered populations. There isn’t much of a learning curve here.
We want to live in a world where we can trust experts to know what to do and promote policies that will help us. But we don’t live in that world. Perhaps we need better specialists. The ones we have don’t seem particularly expert.
Or maybe we should think for ourselves.
Glenn Harlan Reynolds is a law professor at the University of Tennessee and founder of InstaPundit.com.