Bad thinking leads to bad public policy

Phil Anderson

“Everything is changing. People are taking their comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke.”
Will Rogers.

“Stupidity: behavior that shows a lack of good sense or judgment.” Oxford Dictionary

“If you are not outraged you are not paying attention.” Bumper sticker

Will Rogers was a very popular actor and comedian in the early 1930s. His quip above accurately describes today.

Many people are getting their “news” from late night comedians. There is more truth and thoughtful analysis on some of these entertainment shows than on the news channels.

But the antics and destructive actions of many contemporary politicians are not funny. Many of these bozos are a serious threat to the health and well being of their constituents.

Simply stated – bad thinking leads to bad public policy and results in bad outcomes for people. We are seeing many bad outcomes from “lack of good sense and judgment” whenever the Republican nuts gain power.

Pandemic Stupidity

There is no way to sugar coat the obvious. Republicans are playing political games with people’s health and lives. And the people, and our economy, are paying the price.
In a pandemic people should be “rallying around the flag” to contain and defeat the common enemy. But this has not happened and, after a year and a half, the pandemic is still raging despite the widespread availability of vaccines.

From the beginning the right wing crazies have been sabotaging all efforts to contain the spread of the disease. They have spread misinformation and doubt about vaccinations, sued to overturn restrictions on businesses and public gatherings, and prioritized returning to normal business operations over sensible public health safeguards.

The latest stupid action is to pass laws prohibiting schools and businesses from requiring masks and vaccinations for employees and students. And these are the anti-government, free-market true believers who normally claim business should be free of any government control. They have even turned something as simple and effective as wearing a mask into a political battle.

Currently the Delta variant is rapidly expanding. New cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are increasing sharply. Plus the case numbers clearly show this resurgence is overwhelmingly occurring among unvaccinated people and in “red” geographic areas. These numbers prove that personal “freedom” before public health is dead wrong.

Killing Children Stupidity

Hypocritically the “family values” Republicans don’t care about children either. Florida had a record 26,000 new cases last week. But Florida’s Republican governor has issued an executive order prohibiting schools from requiring students to wear masks. He justified this as protecting parents rights to make health decision for their children.

Some school districts are ignoring the order. Lawsuits have been filed challenging the legality of the executive order. Arizona and Texas passed laws with similar impact. They are also seeing some local revolts against their state’s stupid anti-mask requirements that endanger children. Hopefully this sensible civil disobedience will spread.

Wearing masks is a simple, easy, effective preventative action. It is the least anyone could do to protect themselves and others. It is nonsensical that anyone would attempt to prohibit mask mandates during this pandemic.

Natural Resources Stupidity

You don’t need to be an ecologist to understand that Homo sapiens are part of nature. We are entirely dependent in everything we do on natural resources. Most important of these is water. Yet Republicans (“lacking in good sense and judgment”) constantly oppose protecting our limited fresh water.

Opposing environmental protection has been one of the Republicans major agenda items for decades. As a result factory farms, industry, mining, and many other human activities are polluting and over using our water. In Wisconsin we have serious problems all over the state with drinking water contamination.

The most recent outrage concerns the Republican legislators non-plan to deal with PFAS contamination. These poisons are called a “forever” chemicals because they don’t degrade naturally.

Their plan is to: 1) create an inadequately funded grant program for local communities to clean up the contamination, 2) protect the industries that created the mess by prohibiting local communities from suing the companies responsible for the pollution.

So much for the “individual responsibility” they constantly preach about! That only applies to poor people.

Climate Change Stupidity

This morning there is a report that Greenland’s ice sheet is having rain – rather than snow – for the first time in recorded history. This is just the latest in a long list of evidence that global climate change is happening now.

Of course the Republicans (“lacking in good sense and judgment”) are preaching that climate change is not happening and is not a problem. They are doing all they can to create doubt about the science. They are opposing sensible social and economic changes that might mitigate the problem. An example is attacking the sensible Green New Deal (to develop alternative energy resources and improve energy efficiency) as socialism.

Opposing the new sustainable energy sources and energy efficiency is simply bad thinking. The Green New Deal is basic innovation and entrepreneurship. These are key drivers of capitalist economic “growth.” Economic growth is the conservative economic sacred cow. So their opposition makes no sense.

Republican opposition also makes no sense from a risk management standpoint. There is no downside to becoming more energy diverse and efficient. There are many downsides to ignoring the warming of the planet. Case in point being Greenland having rain which increases melting of the ice which increases sea levels that are creating more damage along our coastlines.

This summer we are experiencing record heat all over the country. The desert southwest is having another in many years of drought. The reservoirs on the Colorado River that supply water to California are severely depleted. Even Canada smashed its record high with 121 degrees Fahrenheit in British Columbia. When Canada is having 121 degree temperatures it is impossible to claim there is no problem.

Utah is having severe water shortages. What is Utah’s Republican governor doing about it?

He has asked people to conserve water (fix leaking plumbing, take shorter showers etc). But he also says, “We need more rain and we need it now. We need some divine intervention. That’s why I’m asking Utahans of all faiths to join me in a weekend of prayer...”

Now there is a foolproof, 21st century solution to a drought! Or rather, a fool’s non-solution reminiscent of the biblical pharisees praying on the street corner in order to be seen. With fools like this in charge, no wonder we have problems.

Like I said, bad thinking leads to bad public policy and results in bad outcomes for people.