The Teapot Tempest Continues

Just in case you are not reading Kevin D. Williamson’s newsletter,The Tuesday,you should go do it right now.  You can skip the language part if you like.  Today he is covering the teapot tempest of a few conservative pundits debating the wisdom of how much of GOP should be destroyed because of The Donald.  There is also The Lincoln Project that appears to be a group of political consultants trying to create a winning record to get future gigs.

Kevin cuts right though the discussion with his usual balance of overstatement, insight, and acerbity.  Here are a great couple of sentences:

Everybody loves a good purge, but real progress means recruiting new allies and forming new alliances. And that is what the Trump movement in fact did, aligning the soft xenophobic tendency (anti-trade, anti-immigration) with the entitlement mentality (“Don’t touch my Social Security!”) and a whole Chalmun’s Cantina of social anxieties, while promising a salubrious purge (“Drain the swamp!”) of effete elitists who secretly run the world while being simultaneously entirely irrelevant.

There are three things to talk about in the quote.  First, does he really think that EVERYBODY loves a good purge?  And yet it is true that folks spend an inordinate amount of time trying to exclude other folks.  On the right, conservative is the premier designation.  Is The Donald a conservative?  No, of course not but some disagree.   Are his detractors on the right conservatives?  Sometimes.  On the left there is a whole host of preferred classifications based on race, sexual preferences, and so on that leads to the cancel culture of their purges.

Second, unlike everyone else in the kill the GOP discussion, he gives The Donald credit for creating a winning coalition.  At the same time he recognizes that excluding parts of that coalition is unlikely to be a winning strategy.

Sidebar: Kevin expects the reader to work.  Other than the articles he doesn’t use many links.  An example in the quote above is when he uses Chalmun’s Cantina rather than the more common Mos Eisley Cantina without any link.  End Sidebar.

We can infer the third part from the second.  What are these pundits going to do to build a coalition if they are busy with the purges?  Elections in the USA are much different from those in the USSR.  The Stalin approach won’t work here.

The question is: do you want The Donald or The Frontrunner as president?  We can accept either answer.  All the pundits that Kevin links to have really run out of interesting things to say.  Kevin, of course, is the exception.

Voting Decision Models

James Lileks writes great angry.  Here is an example.  James used to have a section of his website, we think it was called screeds, for his collection of angry, nasty humor.  We loved them.  Kevin D. Williamson is also a master of the genre.  David French is not.  We are not either.  That’s why it has taken us time to respond to David’s “Dump [The Donald], But Don’t Burn Down The GOP” at The Dispatch.  David’s Dump doesn’t have the style of James or Kevin but who does?  The problem is that it doesn’t make much sense either.

Our disagreement is interesting because we suspect that if asked to pick who should be president now we would both have the same response: Mitt’s second term.  We are not saying David is not a conservative.  We just think he is wrong about voting models.

One issue we are ignoring is the conjunction of dumping The Donald AND burning down the GOP.  Near the beginning David says:

In other words, in the furious argument over the future of the Republican party and political conservatism, consider me squarely in the camp that seeks to dump [The Donald] but not to seek vengeance on the rest of the GOP.  [Emphasis added]

It must be a Twitter thing since we are not in that milieu.  We see that there are still some Never The Donald folks out there and there are some folks that want to burn the GOP because it doesn’t support The Donald enough but we didn’t know anyone was for both.  We weren’t aware of an argument of any kind never made a furious one.  We are not interested in that part of David’s Dump.  We are interested in the Dump The Donald part.  David quotes himself on how Christians should vote:

First, they must possess a personal character that is worthy of the office they seek. Second, they must broadly share my political values. If a candidate fails either prong of that test, he or she doesn’t receive my vote.

Then he goes on about The Donald’s incompetence.  He needs to reread The Weed Agency to remind himself of the difficulties of governing.  Yes, we know it is a work of fiction but it is instructive.  He goes on to say that competence is a character trait.  He is surely wrong about that.  Expertise relates to specific limited areas.  Everyone (do we need an almost before everyone?) has limited areas of competencies.

Sidebar One: The winner of a recent bridge tournament with thousands of entries including MWG is also (self reported) a crossword puzzle champ.  We are amazed by that combination of extraordinary skills.  End Sidebar One.

Our major complaint is that David’s voting model has people staying home on election day or only making a couple of votes.  How many people have you voted for enthusiastically in your life?  If your two main criteria are character and political values while competency fits in too do you want to help The Frontrunner win?  VDH isn’t always right (is he?) but you might consider this in your voting decision.

When we get down to the general election we think you need to compare the two candidates.  It is a binary choice: either The Donald or The Frontrunner will win in November.  Even if you live in Wisconsin only rarely do you get to vote for a Ron Johnson.  Pick the best candidate by your model and vote.  If your model has you staying home often reconsider it.

Sidebar Two: One rational model for staying home is that the value of your vote is not worth the cost of making it.  It is not an unreasonable conclusion.  The problem is that this model means that rational people vote less.  We don’t think that having rational people voting less is a good idea.  End Sidebar Two.

Don’t stay home or leave the presidential choice blank on David’s orders.

The Conservative Brand

Jonah Goldberg at The Dispatch is on about The Donald as is his wont. The headline is:

Does The Word “Conservative” Mean Anything Anymore?

Below it is:

Positions Aren’t Conservative Just Because The Republican President Holds Them.

You should read the rest of this before you read all of Jonah’s so you can evaluate what we have to say.  The second one isn’t a questions but we would say yes to both.  Conservatism has great meaning because so many people what to be one.  We don’t, however, think The Donald is a conservative and so his positions don’t determine conservatism.  We voted for him once and we will vote for him again but he is not, as we see it, a conservative.  The Donald holds some conservative positions but, as we see it, conservatism is largely about process and that is why The Donald is not a conservative.  We would prefer a more conservative option but one is not on offer.

What Jonah needs to recognize is that, unlike liberal, progressive, or libertarian, conservative is a great political brand.  People (lots of them but obviously not everyone) want to support and vote for conservatives.  Thus, there is a great battle to be anointed as a “true” conservative.  The Donald and his supporters want him to have the advantage of the conservative brand.  We agree with Jonah that he should not have the conservative brand but the nature and details of conservatism, and every other political designation change over time.  Some folks might find our “heresy” of supporting a modest carbon tax sufficient to be excommunicated as a conservative. We think economic freedom, political freedom, and due process should be high on the list for somebody to be considered a conservative.  The Donald supports economic and political freedom some of the time but he is a results guy rather than a process guy.

Sidebar: Of course the details get tricky.  When is the carbon tax no longer modest? What should we do about Venezuela?  How can we support economic an political freedom there and elsewhere?  End Sidebar.

Exactly what conservatism means beyond the great brand is a political and philosophical debate.  We need to continue the debate.  We need to recognize that few political candidates will be full conservatives.  If you are going to wait for a true conservative to support you won’t vote very often.

 

Another Easy Binary Choice

Kevin D. Williamson writes with his usual clarity and wisdom on economic matters at NRO in “[The Frontrunner]: Make America Great Again.”  Of course you should read the whole thing.  You should read everything that Kevin writes.  His article compares the similarities between Biden’s recent speech and The Donald.  He is absolutely right that The Frontrunner and The Donald have much in common on the economic front.  For us capitalistic orphans or friends of economic liberalism, as Kevin calls them, the 2020 election will not be a feast.

Where we disagree with Kevin is on the choice.  Kevin says:

For the friends of economic liberalism, 2020 is going to be a choice between testicular cancer on the left or testicular cancer on the right.

We would like a whole loaf.  We would be delighted with a half a loaf to feed us economic orphans.  With The Donald we get a slice, perhaps the heel, while with The Frontrunner we get nothing.  To paint them both with the same brush Kevin has to stretch the evidence.  For example:

Trump is more of a born-again Republican on taxes today, but in 2016 he complained long and loud about Wall Street traders beating the tax man,

The Donald has reduced taxes, and most importantly corporate taxes, grudgingly renewed NAFTA, and reduced regulations.  He is far from what Keven and MWG wants but he is the dominant solution in a binary choice.  The Donald should be an easy choice for economic liberals and capitalistic orphans in 2020.  It is likely to be a tougher choice for us in 2024 with folks like Marco Rubio and Josh Hawley.

Warren And Woodrow

David Harsanyi has a thoughtful article on Warren Harding at NRO.  We should use his insight to help us with our current political decisions.  He does have a little red meat in the second and third paragraphs:

Good riddance, Woodrow. Wilson was one of the most despicable characters in 20th-century American politics: a national embarrassment. The Virginian didn’t merely hold racist “views;” he re-segregated the federal civil service. He didn’t merely involve the United States in a disastrous war in Europe after promising not to do so; he threw political opponents and anti-war activists into prison. Wilson, the first president to show open contempt for the Constitution and the Founding, was a vainglorious man unworthy of honor.

Fortunately, we have the perfect replacement for Wilson: Warren Harding, the most underappreciated president in American history, a joyful champion of civil rights and republicanism. Harding deserves to be reinserted into the nation’s consciousness on the merits of his presidency alone. But considering that he also negated much of Wilson’s calamitous legacy, we have an even better reason to honor him.

Sidebar: American (in bold) is an excellent adjective in the quote.  Woodrow was not not Lenin, Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Stalin, MaoIdi Amin or Pol Pot to name a few more despicable characters during the 20th century.  End Sidebar

David is much more interesting than Jonah’s Goldberg File to cancel Woodrow for two reasons.  First Jonah is just, but properly, negative about Woodrow.  All three of us agree that Woodrow was an awful person and awful president.  We agree that Jonah has been part of our education on Woodrow.  But in this time of cancellation of both reservations and people we need something positive.  David gives us Warren as something positive.

Second, and even more important, David recognizes that Warren is less than perfect.  He says Warren is remembered for his depravity and corruption:

And [Warren] was definitely a flawed president, far too trusting of crooked subordinates, most famously those who participated in the Teapot Dome, a scandal surrounding the leasing of federal oil reserves. (From my perspective, Harding’s views on tariffs and immigration, and his failed effort to poison-pill Prohibition, leave something to be desired, as well. But those are political, not moral or Constitutional, objections.)

We see the opposite point of view all too often.  The NRPlus Facebook page had a commenter that couldn’t abide by Calvin Coolidge because he has appointed a justice that enabled FDR and the Great Depression a decade later.  Humans can’t see checkmate in 15 moves.  Everybody makes mistakes and with public figures some of those mistakes are public.

Everyone is a failure if judged against perfection.  Even Bill Russell.  He won two NCAA championships, a gold medal, but “only” won 11 of 13 NBA championships. Prohibition was a disaster and Warren and Calvin have to share some of the blame for their lack of perspicacity.  There are no free traders among Warren, Calvin, and The Donald.  That is a more serious flaw.  Yet all three support freedom and particularly economic freedom in many other situations.  The Frontrunner might  not be as anti-freedom as Woodrow but clearly, to us, if you are pro-freedom then you need to support The Donald in 2020 despite his shortcomings.

Fighting The New Scams

Eugene Scalia is very kind in his WSJ opinion piece.  He says that investors are concerned about the environment, social factors, and corporate governance (ESG):

Many investors understandably want to do good while also doing well. But the standards for ESG investing are often unclear and sometimes contradictory.

We don’t understand but we are capitalistic orphans so we care about returns.  In one of the huge non-surprises:

Other studies show that when investments are made to further a particular environmental or social cause, returns unsurprisingly suffering

Let’s be honest.  It is a scam.  Entities promise to maximize something other than returns so that investors won’t leave because of low returns.  And, of course, it is very difficult to measure ESP as Eugene documents.  A simple question: Are wind farms good for the environment?  Are the dead birds and the rare earths used worth the returns to the electrical grid?

The excellent news is that The Donald’s administration is not buying.  The US Department of Labor says that fiduciaries have a primary responsibility to current and future retirees:

The department’s proposed rule reminds plan providers that it is unlawful to sacrifice returns, or accept additional risk, through investments intended to promote a social or political end.

Individuals can fall for ESG investing.  It is their money.  We support folks being able to sell ESG investing.  We would never recommend buying such products but if folks want purchase them then we won’t stop them.  What we want to do is stop folks from being forced to invest in ESG.  One of the things the proposed rule will do is help to give the fiduciaries some backbone when the activists come for them.

We never suggest that The Donald is anything more than a net positive compared to the alternative in 2016 and The Frontrunner.  Lots of folks point out The Donald’s negatives.  We are reminding you that Eugene and Betsy are part of that net positive.

USWNT “Equal” Pay Lawsuit

At MWG we don’t pride ourselves on timeliness.  This one isn’t all our fault as we had some technical difficulties.  The US women’s National Soccer team (USWNT) sued the US Soccer Federations over the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) they had both signed.  The USWNT’s CBA and the men’s CBA are vastly different.  The pay part of the lawsuit has been rejected so after we review the facts we would like to explain why the CBAs are so different and speculate why The Frontrunner has got involved.

The National Review editors did a nice job of reviewing the results.  Their title is Soccer Decision Scores A Goal For Women’s Choice.  Of course you should subscribe and read the whole thing.  Here is a great summary:

Los Angeles federal judge R. Gary Klauser did two things that don’t happen often in public arguments about gender and wages: He looked at the evidence, and he took women’s choices seriously. The result was a defeat for a class-action lawsuit filed by the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team against the U.S. Soccer Federation, but a victory for women’s priorities in the workplace.  USSF is the governing body for both men’s and women’s soccer, and it collectively bargains contracts separately with the unions for the men’s and women’s teams.

The editors make three points from the case:

  1. The USWNT made a lot more money than the men.
  2. The USWNT would have made more money under the men’s CBA but the men would have made more money under the USWNT CBA.
  3. The USWNT rejected the men’s CBA

Why would the USWNT choose a very different CBA then the men?  Men’s soccer is really big deal world-wide.  You know how much some US athletes make but the top three highest paid athletes in the world are soccer players.  They all make over $100 million per year.  There is club soccer and international soccer (playing for the national team).  The Women’s [soccer] World Cup is a big deal.  It is not nearly as big as the World Cup but the differences in  men’s and women’s club soccer are comparatively enormous.  When Arsenal plays at home at the Emirates Stadium in the Premier League they almost always sell out meaning over 60,000 fans and the game is televised all over the world.  Leeds United, the top team in the second tier of British soccer attracted 36,500 fans to a recent game.  The Arsenal women, a very good team with many World Cup veterans, often play at Meadow Park that has an attendance record of 4,030 according to Wikipedia.  So a rough guess is that the ticket revenue for the men is three million pounds and the women is 40,000 pounds.  The revenue of women’s club soccer teams means that women make the most money playing for the national team rather than the club team.  This list from 2020 has just four women making over $100,000 playing soccer.  We think it includes club, country, and endorsement earnings like the men’s list but it is not specified.

Sidebar: We think it is likely that both the World Cup and soccer giants like Arsenal subsidize the women’s game.  It is a economically rational choice as the men’s game is close to saturated while the women’s game has growth opportunities.  End Sidebar.

The USWNT might choose otherwise but it is a rational decision for the women to choose a low risk CBA and the men the opposite because most of the men have a substantial club contract while the women do not.

So why did The Frontrunner wade into a situation where the facts are so against him? Here is part of a report from a British newspaper:

“Don’t give up this fight,” Biden wrote on Twitter on Saturday. “This is not over yet.”

The presumptive Democratic candidate for president then turned his attention to the governing body.

“To US Soccer: equal pay, now,” he wrote. “Or else when I’m president, you can go elsewhere for World Cup funding.” [Emphasis added]

We were, or perhaps he was, confused about the last item in bold.  The World Cup is rolling in revenue.  Who needs money from the federal government?  It turns out The Frontrunner is trying to threaten the 2026 World Cup to be held in North America:

Moreover, he warned U.S. Soccer that should the equal-pay dispute not be resolved, he would withhold funding for the men’s World Cup in 2026, which is due to be staged in the USA, Mexico and Canada.

There are some Congress critters that agree with The Frontrunner.  They have come up with the misnamed Give Our Athletes Level Salaries (GOALS) Act.  We are not sure what he can do or the wisdom of it.  In the United States stadiums, the big funding issue for the World Cup, are built by cities, states, and private enterprise.  Has the federal government promised to build stadiums for 2026?  We would like to know.  We might agree on the withholding but not GOALS.

The Frontrunner has promised to alienate the large group of men’s fans to possibly attract women’s fans.  We hope everyone sees that the lawsuit deserves to lose on the pay part but that might be asking too much in a Twitter world. The odds don’t look good for him because the World Cup is really popular.

The good news is the pay part of the suit has been dismissed for the right reasons.  The bad part is The Frontrunner wants to follow in the steps of the 44th president and The Donald by getting involved in events that he should ignore.  The Frontrunner just can’t seem to provide a reason to vote for him in the 2020 general.

 

Zeke Update

A few days ago we reported thatDiane Kleinwas touting Zeke Emanuel as agreat (vice) provost in this time of COVID-19.  Here is an excerpt from Jim Geraghty’s Morning Jolt (yes, you should subscribe to it):

Back on January 30, former Obama White House health advisor Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel told CNBC: “Everyone in America should take a very big breath, slow down, and stop panicking and being hysterical. We are having a little too much histrionics on this.” (Now Emanuel believes that Americans will not return to large events until “fall 2021 at the earliest.”) And Emanuel was far from alone in his assessment that the coronavirus was not much of a threat. [Emphasis added]

Perhaps Diane missed Zeke on CNBC.  Would you bet that Diane is glad that The Donald limited travel from China the next (1/31) day?  It is fun to read the Washington Post try to find the imperfections in The Donald’s action.  We are not saying when it comes to COVID-19 that Zeke is always wrong and The Donald is always right.  We are certainly not saying that expertise is irrelevant.  It is a reminder that The Donald got one important thing very right when many experts like Zeke were not yet convinced that COVID-19 was a serious matter.

It does remind us of the usefulness of the analogy of COVID-19 pandemic and war.  There is a similar fog in both.  You can see some things but not others. There is an immense amount of data that is hard to evaluate.  There are many decisions to be made and knowledge is always imperfect.  Nobody, not Zeke, not The Donald, is going to bat a thousand.  It is going to take time and people are going to die.  It will help our outcomes if folks and listen and discuss the decisions and options rather than just attack any minor mistakes.

Fellow Orphans

As we enter into the endgame of COVID-19 let’s write about something interesting.  Capitalism, and in particular us capitalistic orphans as we find ourselves very interesting, is a great topic.  We use the term capitalistic orphans because there are few of us and we have little influence.  The two fellow orphans are Richard M. Reinsch II at National Affairs and Deirdre Nansan McCloskey at the National Review.  Even amongst us orphans it is hard for our small group to agree.  Deirdre is writing about coercion and COVID-19 while Richard is pointing out the lack of wisdom in industrial policy with particular emphasis on the type proposed on the right by folks like Oren Cass and Josh Hawley.  You should, of course, read them both in their entirety.  You might read Richard twice.

The lack of influence of capitalism seems particularly strange at a time of COVID-19 when it is obvious what what a blunt tool government intervention is and what joy we have lost by restricting capitalism.  Richard gives us the general explanation on why this is true yet makes it hard for folks to accept:

Perfect markets and perfect market competition do not exist, but neither do perfect regulations. The errors made in markets, though, are often rapidly correctable, at least in comparison to wrongheaded government policy. Such corrections in the market come with short-term pain, but state intervention, which spawns a system of winners and losers, tends to harden around special interests whose concentrated benefits are defended tenaciously. This process has been repeatedly documented by public-choice scholars and has led to years of lost growth for countries that pursued robust industrial policies.

To paraphrase Richard, as history demonstrates, capitalism is superior because the imperfections in markets usually self-correct but the imperfections in government policies like industrial policy tend not to exacerbate themselves rather than self-correct.  Socialism is just the virus of industrial policy with a greater infection rate.  Yet we ignore the facts.  Deirdre is on the COVID-19 beat specifically and the nature of government coercion:

Socialism should therefore be called “coercionism.” Sometimes, rarely, what the government coerces us to do is a swell idea, such as coercing parents to inoculate their children against measles. One measles case infects 20 others and the disease is regularly fatal for adults who haven’t had it as children. Ask the Aztecs and the Incas and the Mohicans on that score.

She ought to give The Donald credit for using coercion to stop Chinese from entering the US early.  We are sure Deidre is not surprised by the behavior of the Chinese government.  We hope she likes his federalism approach to reopening the economy.  That happened after her article was published.

Sidebar: The search for “Trump stops Chinese from entering US” is now filled up with “fact checks” of The Donald’s claims on live saved.  It is an astonishing example of the bias of major news organizations.  End Sidebar.

Deirdre reminds us that capitalism is why we are so comfortable:

 The Great Enrichment, 1800 to the present, that factor of 30 in goods and services, was not caused by coercion but by liberty. Its magnitude was further multiplied by the free trade and free migration and free press that [The Donald] and his advisers Peter Navarro and Stephen Miller so disdain.  [Link added]

We are in agreement with Deirdre on her criticism of  The Donald but not sure why she picks only him out.  As Richard says about the left before getting on to the right:

Implementing the Green New Deal’s stated objective of simultaneously eliminating greenhouse-gas emissions and solving economic inequality would result in cultural, political, and economic conditions best described as despotic. Such policies, which have drawn wide support from Democratic presidential candidates this year and from the broader party, would obviously be installed incrementally, forestalling a total capital strike. But they nevertheless entail a striking rejection of free-market capitalism, and represent a remarkable detachment from reality among many leading minds of the American left. [Emphasis added]

The second bold item (despotic) shows that Deidre and Richard are on the same page as orphans.  We love the third bold item because it is exactly right yet ignored by a large portion of the population.  We are less enamored with the first bold item because there is nothing about economic inequality that needs to be solved.

It is the strange story of capitalism and why we refer to ourselves as capitalistic orphans.  We have centuries of data (well, over two is a lot of centuries) to show that capitalism is the solution.  We have just over a century showing us that socialism is not the solution.  Now we have the events relating to COVID-19 to amplify the history.   We deserve a whole capitalism loaf in 2020.  Yet The Frontrunner and the left offer us, at best, the heel.  Like markets, The Donald offers us much more of the loaf.  Like markets, he is far from perfect but he is the best choice we have and us orphans should unite to support The Donald.  We wish it were different but it is not.

 

 

Expertise And COVID-19

You don’t want to be on the left.  In the United States the exception is that you walk on the left.  People, let’s make it easy to keep our social distance by walking on the left.

OK, with our public service announcement out of the way let’s talk about COVID-19 and expertise.  Daniel Tanreiro at NRO has an excellent article, Up From Expertise that you should read in full.  While you are there it is a good time to donate to NRO.  There is a donate button near the top left on the NRO page.

Long Sidebar: COVID-19 and the economic regulations that have come with it have had widely different economic impact on individuals.  Some folks have lost their income and are being squeezed by expenses.  That’s why we don’t like to call government relief stimulus.  It is not intended to stimulate the economy.  It is imperfect relief to the individuals that the government took away their livelihoods.  For others, like us, income is relatively unchanged but expenses are down substantially because we can’t do much.  To be flippant, Jameson is cheaper by the bottle than the shot.  It is good for us fortunate folk to give to organizations that directly help with COVID-19 but don’t forget about places that are indirectly hurt by COVID-19 like NRO orAPT.  End Long Sidebar.

There are three things you should know.  Two of them are about expertise.  The first thing you should know about expertise is that it relates to a specific discipline.  A person can have more than one area of expertise but each person has a limited number of areas of expertise.  The second thing you should know, and you probably already do, is that experts make mistakes.  We were reminded of this just yesterday when we were kibitzing a high level bridge tournament at Bridge Base Online.  One expert pair absolutely butchered the bidding on two consecutive hands.  If they were playing at our local club they would have finished last on those two boards.  The third thing is that counterfactuals are really difficult.

We are often in agreement with Daniel but he confuses expertise with science and  forgets about political expertise..  Scientists are experts within their area but so are military leaders.  Daniel refers glowingly to “he German war scholar Carl von Clausewitz called it coup d’oeil:” and then says:

The ability to survey the landscape and render quick judgments, informed by both knowledge and intuition, to build a coherent whole “out of fragments visible to the human eye.” That the sciences reject intuition minimizes their utility when the moment calls for haste.

The first sentence describes expertise.  That is exactly what bridge experts do better than novices almost all of the time.  The second one is, at best, partially true.  Experts of all kinds including science experts are perfectly happy with predicting certain things with great haste like lockdowns during an epidemic will save lives. The data problem that needs time  is exactly how many and where lockdowns are needed.

Then there is political expertise.  The Donald planted his COVID-19 flag by correctly restricting entry from China on January 31.  Other politicians made the wrong move by calling him xenophobic.  Daniel doesn’t give him nearly enough credit for being right early in difficult choice.  As Daniel says:

The World Health Organization,[WHO] which in a matter of weeks has brought itself permanent disgrace, assured the public in January that there was “no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the [COVID-19].”

Of course, what WHO was showing was political expertise or at least deference to China rather than scientific expertise.  In the US, politicians and bureaucrats are showing their expertise by taking dramatic action.  We should remember that one thing they have expertise in is at getting elected or keeping their position.  It doesn’t mean they are wrong.

At some point soon we are going to need the detailed science and the political expertise to come together to decide when to end the lockdowns.  Even if science can get perfect data it is going to be a hard political decision because of the counterfactual problem we brought up earlier.  People die from COVID-19 but there are a variety of problems caused by lockdowns including death. What if we end the lockdowns on the perfect date based perfect data and perfect science and then either The Donald or The Frontrunner die from COVID 19?  It might have been the right choice overall but that one death would cause huge problems.

Daniel is closer than most on understanding expertise. It is a difficult subject.