Wednesday, May 6, 2020

We have all had our fill of COVID-19 news.

Enlightening words from Roger Carlton, columnist for the Graham Star newspaper.

The death tolls, monumental human suffering, acts of human kindness, heroic efforts to tame the beast and economic impacts on millions of unemployed workers will be in our memories forever. There is one more aspect that needs some thought. It is the "Effectiveness Trap" as expressed by Brett McGurk.

First, who in the world is Bret McGurk?
He is an American diplomat who has served in senior national security positions under Presidents Bush II, Barack Obama and Donald Trump. Most recently, he served as Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL. He is a Distinguished Professor at Stanford University.

It is pretty easy to conclude that he is a smart guy who has served presidents of both parties in a distinguished manner. Most importantly, he quit his role when the decision was made to pull out of Syria. That was a great loss to policy-making, but an ethical stand because he thought it was a terrible mistake.

The Effectiveness Trap keeps men and women from speaking out – as clearly or often as they might – within the government. And it is the trap that keeps people from resigning in protest and airing their dissent outside the government. It is one of the great moral questions for a senior government executive or advisor.

 It is the predicament in which Drs. Fauci and Birx find themselves daily in COVID-19 press conferences regarding the Administration's efforts to contain the medical, economic and political crisis with which their leadership is confronted.

 This columnist did not think much about the moral dilemma for these two heroic doctors, until they were confronted with how to react to the question raised regarding ingesting bleach as a potential preventative for the impacts of the virus. A simple "not a good idea" would have been the best answer in a normal world.

 But Washington is not a normal world and probably never has been. So the good doctors made the right moral decision and maintained their effectiveness for the greater good of our society. They did not quit in protest. These heroes just told the truth and maintained their leadership role. That is why we trust them. Their decision-making and recommendations come from scientific knowledge and unbiased concern ... not the politics of the moment.

We should all think about the effectiveness trap. When do you say, as immortalized by Johnny Paycheck in his 1977 hit,Take This Job and Shove It?
Here's the question. What did Johnny Paycheck know when he performed these lines 43 years ago?

 "I been working in this factory for nigh on 15 years.
All this time I watched my woman drownin' in a pool of tears,
 And I've seen a lot of good folks die that had a lot of bills to pay.
I'd give the shirt right offa' my back if I had the guts to say …"

Think about how you would end the verse as you go to the polls in November.

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