So much for ‘the common sense and wisdom of the people’

Henry still

Last night, Mandy tweeted this:

I had to respond, “Does that mean his ‘faith in the common sense and wisdom of the people’ has been shaken?” (Y’all remember that, right? It’s the underlying idea in everything Henry has done — and especially in what he has not done.)

Perhaps it has — but only shaken, not abandoned. He’s clinging to the notion that people will spontaneously coordinate collectively to do what needs to be done to turn back the resurgence of COVID — the resurgence which daily asserts itself, with today’s total of new cases again being the highest ever — with nothing from him but occasional verbal encouragement.

33 thoughts on “So much for ‘the common sense and wisdom of the people’

  1. Bob Amundson

    We planned to go to (rural) New York in early April, but we decided we were safer here. There were also logistic problems, so we are still here in SC. It’s not New York City; it is a rural county with fewer than 50,000 residents. We are leaving soon, and I feel we are going to a much more sensible, and SAFER, place. I can’t stop shaking my head that I am writing this.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yeah, I understand the head-shaking. I’ve mentioned this before here, I believe….

      Way back early in my career, I had a really bright young woman from New York (the city, not rural) working for me at the paper in Jackson, Tennessee. She sometimes struggled to adjust to life in a relatively small (about the size of Florence) Southern town.

      Frequently, when frustrated, she would say, “It’s not the heat — it’s the stupidity!”

      I would laugh, because I couldn’t help it. I like a pun that works. But I, too, would shake my head, and wish she wouldn’t say things like that, and try to say something myself to encourage an attitude adjustment on her part. Which is not all that easy to do after laughing.

      I used to work really hard to persuade smart reporters who wanted to go to Washington or New York that those places didn’t NEED them, and flyover country (as we would later call it) DID.

      Of course, I ended up in South Carolina, which is where I wanted to be and thought I could be useful, and she works for The New York Times now.

      So I guess, in a way, things work out. Up to a point…

  2. Brad Warthen Post author

    I think Henry’s touching faith in all the common sense and wisdom out there is a result of his life experiences, so we have to take that into consideration.

    If I had been the first statewide elected official in the country to endorse Donald Trump, and then the state’s voters backed him in both the primary and the general election, perhaps it would boost my belief in their good sense.

    And if I had then been elected governor for the first time by those people in 2018, with little regard for my record in office up to that point, I’d think the people were intuitive geniuses. In fact, it would make me feel admiration for the intellectual prowess of the electorate as a whole. GOP voters almost denied their incumbent the nomination, but he won the general anyway.

    Of course, if you’re like me and did your best to get someone else — a far superior candidate — elected in 2018, it might temper your enthusiasm regarding all the good sense out there.

    So, as the people in their wisdom say, we are shaped by our experiences…

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I’m not saying the people are stupid, let me say before the usual cries of “elitism” begin.

      It’s just that my appreciation of their all-encompassing genius is somewhat more tempered than Henry’s. I have a more moderate view…

      1. Bob Amundson

        People use heuristics in judgement and decision making, so as problems become more complex, the ability to make rational judgments and decisions decreases. In this complex world, irrationality rules. Daniel Kahneman won a Nobel Prize for his work on this simplified explanation of “prospect theory.”

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          When I saw this in my comments queue (where you don’t see things in context the way they appear on the blog) I thought you were responding to my comment back here about how the protest movement is moving toward emotional demands like “defunding the police” and such.

          Here’s the thing about that: Protest movements are ways to express that you’re very upset about something. They are not a place for crafting solutions to the problem.

          But we’ve had such a collapse of the kinds of institutions that ARE good places to craft solutions that we have a real crisis on our hands. Congress, and to a great extent other legislative bodies, were already practically crippled with partisanship, and now further riven by Trumpism.

          Once, issues could be raised on the street, and solutions could be crafted in more deliberative settings (think Civil Rights Act, for instance).

          Now, everything has devolved to a level where it’s impossible to have rational, practical discussions of real solutions.

          Protesters raise the profile of a concern, and five minutes later the whole thing devolves into a situation in which, to follow our media today (another collapsing institution), you’re either on the side of the protesters and endorsing defunding the police, or you’re with Trump and want to “dominate the battlespace.”

          And of course, if you’re Trump, you’re THRILLED that the other side tries to make it about defunding the police.

          Thank God for Joe Biden on that issue, anyway. Our only hope is to get that guy elected…

        2. Brad Warthen Post author

          You know, I just read back over something Bob said there: “In this complex world, irrationality rules.”

          Seems to me that a complex world is the LAST place where you’d want that to happen…

  3. Brad Warthen Post author

    FYI, y’all:

    In this case, it’s not because of what has shut some other restaurants in town — employees coming down with the virus.

    This is about not being able to find enough employees to STAFF all these reopened restaurants.

    It seems that even with all the unemployment we have, people are not rushing to take jobs that involve getting in the faces of people — many of them not wearing masks, because they believe they are invulnerable — and serving them food.

    Which, as long as we’re talking about the wisdom of the people, would seem to show that unemployed workers are smarter than the customers flocking into reopened restaurants…

    1. Barry

      That’s interesting

      my 17-year-old has been looking for a job. one of the concerns he had was too many dumb people in general not taking precautions. Of course I agreed with him, he doesn’t want to get something and unintentionally pass it to his grandparents.

      He’s been cutting grass for some of the neighbors and wants to stick with that because he can do the job and not interact with anybody.

      I told him that’s the key to happiness – get a job where you don’t have to interact with anybody

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Hate to admit this, but I tend to confuse Todd Rundgren and Ted Nugent.

      Don’t know why. They’re nothing alike. It’s just that their first names are vaguely similar, and I was sorta kinda aware of the existence of both of them in the 1970s, but never paid attention to either…

      1. Bill

        Todd’s to be remembered,and Ted not.I would never admit anything that stupid,so,you got that going for you,I guess…
        You had a stroke and all…

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Yes, I did, as I keep reminding people.

          But this predates the stroke.

          When I say I “confuse” them, it goes like this: Someone mentions Todd Rundgren. I can’t remember anything by him, and my brain goes casting about, and I find myself thinking, “Is he the ‘Cat Scratch Fever’ guy, the right-wing, pro-gun guy?” Because you see, I can’t ever think of the name, “Ted Nugent.” I have to do a search on “Cat Scratch Fever” to remember it.

          But before I do that, I usually tell myself, no, this is not him. It’s the other guy whose name I confuse with his.

          But since I sort of have this block and can’t think of “Ted Nugent,” or of anything Rundgren did, this keeps happening.

          When I looked him up yesterday, I saw Rundgren was responsible for some songs I remember and even liked, such as “We Gotta Get You a Woman.” But I never followed him, and just can’t retain the association…

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Oh, and this one will really appall you.

            Sometimes I don’t confuse Rundgren with Nugent.

            Sometimes I confuse him with Peter Frampton — someone else whose name I heard a lot back in the day, but did not follow at all.

            In fact, my strongest association with Peter Frampton is this:

            1. Bill

              That’s not only appalling,that’s cryingly sad…
              That movie sucks,too.
              Something/Anything and A Wizard A True Star are pop masterpieces;something you’d know if you didn’t waste so much time on bad movies…

  4. Ken

    Something here doesn’t quite add up. A month ago, Sen. Scott in a video hearing with Dr. Fauci outlined the things SC was doing to flatten the curve and make re-opening the economy possible. After Scott listed those measures, Dr. Fauci said he would “almost like to clone” them, because they would “optimize [the state’s] capability of re-opening.” So, if the measures put in place were so good that Dr. Fauci would wanted to clone them, why are we seeing such a rise in cases and hospitalizations now, a month later? Is it just a matter of personal irresponsibility, or are there things that government here is failing to do? Is testing getting to the right people and places? Is there sufficient follow-up to ensure that those who test positive — AND those they came in contact with — self-quarantine/isolate? Are there sanctions against those who don’t? That’s one of the things government is for: mandating that actions be taken when volunteerism proves inadequate in protecting public well-being. It’s inacceptable for leaders to simply shrug their shoulders and say “Well, if y’all don’t wanna comply, there’s nothin we can do about that.”

    1. Scout

      Based purely on my own observations, I’m gonna guess it’s not that the guidelines are bad, it’s people not following the guidelines and no consequences (other than spread of the disease) for not following them. Unfortunately the spread of the disease as a consequence is too far removed from the event in time to cause a change of behaviour. I think Fauci thought they were good guidelines and would be effective if followed. But anecdotal evidence suggests they are not being followed. On social media I see people proclaiming they will never wear a mask. They quote all kinds of bogus things claiming that masks are bad or dont help. Peoples’ feeds are filled with pictures of social gatherings with no distance and no masks. When I do go out, I see many people without masks. I hear stories of restaurants packed and not following the guidelines for spacing of tables. And there is apparently no penalty for businesses that don’t do what is asked. This is one of those areas where Henry is just counting on people to do the right thing. Since he has at least acknowledged that people are not always doing it, maybe he’ll change his stance on no penalties. Maybe he even has now; it’s been awhile since I could stomach watching a press conference. But at least in the beginning that was his stance. I bet Dr. Bell is annoyed with him. So yea, I’m going with irresponsibility. Also im pretty sure our testing its better than most. But the change in percent positive tells the real story.

      1. Ken

        I’ve been reading up on cholera epidemics in 19th century America. And what stands out are the parallels with our current pandemic: initial government indifference and inaction, concerns over what knowledge of, let alone measures to combat the malady would do to the economy. Another was the tendency to blame the spread of the disease on personal “irresponsibility.” While the etiology differs (waterborne vs airborne spread), there is the same tendency now, though in both cases effective government action was the solution.

    1. Ken

      I don’t think re-opening is the issue. If it were, then every country around the globe that has re-opened would be seeing spikes in new infections. But that’s not the case.
      So rather than re-opening alone, the problem involves re-opening combined with a very light hand in terms of government enforcement. McMaster claiming we don’t have enough po-lice to enforce compliance is like saying we might as well abandon speed limits simply because we can’t catch every single speeder. And it doesn’t help to blame the people. That’s just an expression of an abdication of government’s duty to protect. It’s the “y’all ought stop sinnin'” approach.

    2. Scout

      Well he did say there was alot of stupid floating around. Maybe he walked into a patch.

  5. Bob Amundson

    Remember VUCA – Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous. Our world is VUCA’d up, and heuristic behavior explains much of the problem. Both our President and our Governor are heuristic as evidenced by them looking for simple solutions to complex problems. Yesterday the President said of the work to confront bigotry and prejudice: “I think we’re going to do it very easily. And it’ll go quickly.”

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Dang. You keep making me go look up “heuristic.”

      I think that word was used a lot in Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum. But I was no fan of that book. It was no The Name of the Rose. Or, for that matter, just Rose.

      No, wait. I think the word he kept using in Foucault’s Pendulum was “hermetic.”

      So… never mind.

      Did I mention that I had a stroke recently?

      Actually, though, some good news — I haven’t had serious trouble coming up with a word since those several days when I couldn’t think of “chavinist.” And I haven’t had trouble with that word since Derek Chauvin became infamous. Because, as I’m sure you know, “chauvinist” is derived from the name “Chauvin“…

      1. Bob Amundson

        The physiological plasticity of your brain, your intellect and your motivation all will lead to your continued improvement!

  6. Ken

    Cut from the same cloth as McMaster:

    This just arrived in Rep. Jeff Duncan’s “Re-Opening America Update”:

    “Letter to NCAA
    I sent a letter this week to the President of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) on the importance of going ahead with college football season. College football unites so many Americans near and far and brings a strong economic boost to our college town businesses. I truly believe college football could be the catalyst to reopening and reunifying America in a post-COVID-19 environment. Go Tigers!”

    Post-COVID-19 environment? Apparently the Congressman is just sooo over all that Covid stuff.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      If I were to do a Top Five list of things we don’t need to rush to restart, football would be at the top.

      I know not everyone agrees…

  7. Ken

    So where’s the reporting on contact tracing and quarantining in this state? How effective is it? Is it being applied effectively in containing outbreaks? Doesn’t seem to be. But what are the numbers? What are the facts? I haven’t seen any reporting on it anywhere. It’s not enough to know that “programs and plans” are in place. We have to know if they are doing what they are supposed to do.

    1. Mark

      There is no plan, well, no plan that will see action. Henry has gone in for letting the Trump voters have their way. Spray and pray as it were. If this disease only impacted low information voters I’d just be chagrined. As it is now, we are just ensuring our economy is going to be crushed for months and months.

      Also I went to eat once at a mostly empty restaurant last week. I could feel the constant swish of the ceiling fans; and right then i said “no thanks” to restaurants with fans. Or pumping A/C systems – which around here ’til October – means all of them.

      What are the stages of grief again? Because we are clearly now in full blown delusion…

      1. Ken

        Well, not to get too prosaic all of a sudden: But restaurants with fans and good air circulation are better than those without. Even so, it would’ve been nice if all those places that created outdoor seating hadn’t given it up as soon as indoor dining was allowed again.

      2. Brad Warthen Post author

        I went downtown today (had a doctor appointment). Probably the second time I’ve done that since March 18.

        I’m driving back through the Vista, shortly before lunch time. I see about five guys — like an outing from an office, heading to lunch — walking together on the sidewalk, more or less touching. No masks. Absolutely nothing about them that was different from a bunch of white guys going from the office to lunch, say, a year ago.

        And of course, I thought, “Who are THOSE idiots?” Actually, I probably said it out loud.

        The only good news is that I didn’t see anyone else on those sidewalks.

        This was about 11:50 something.

        About a block further on, I saw two girls having lunch at a place that has a big window (or wall) that swings open, so they were sitting at their table facing outward toward Gervais. No masks, but then they were busy shoveling food into their mouths.

        Early eaters. Probably the kind of people who don’t eat breakfast…

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