Being “elite” means never having to say you’re sorry.
Take any contentious issue—travel bans, the advantages of masks, the Chinese compromising of WHO, the entire industry of grievance politics infecting criticism of China’s despicable behavior, delayed testing by the Centers for Disease Control and FDA, modeling, the efficacy of antimalarial drugs—and our elite seem unable to admit they were wrong, and wrong with a great deal of costly arrogance.
It is no exaggeration to say that most models that the best and brightest offered the public, from the imported Imperial College in London to those from the University of Washington and many more besides, were not just inaccurate, but quite mistaken in two tragic ways: First, they were accepted as gospel by governments and thus their flawed assumptions became the basis for policies that in many cases may prove counterproductive. Second, the modelers themselves either did not promptly correct their warped inputs, or were not completely forthcoming about their data and methodologies, or blamed their flawed assumptions on others or circumstances beyond imagination, or claimed that their mistakes were in fact salutary—if not sorta, kinda planned—in galvanizing a presumably infantile public to accept draconian measures that it otherwise would not.
I know a plumber and an electrician, both skilled in the pragmatic engineering of pipes and wires, who would not dare to think they could offer a model of plumbing or electrical prediction if they had no idea of the real size of the denominator and were likewise unsure that the numerator was widely accepted as accurate and clearly defined.
When California Governor Gavin Newsom warned that 25.5 million Californians “will” get the virus in the eight weeks following March 18, albeit without his shelter-in-place orders, he was also essentially stating that, at a then 2.6 percent lethality rate for Californians known to have the active virus, about 1 million would die. As I write, 24 days out from his prediction and nearing the half-way point to Doomsday, about 23,000 Californians have tested positive, and either are fighting the disease or have recovered. Since late January, about 650 of 40 million Californians have died from the disease, in a state where well over 700 people die from some cause every day.
If 10 times that number of known positive tests are now actively infected, we legitimately could assume at least 222,000 residents are now active or past carriers. Those who advised Newsom to shut down the world’s sixth-largest economy, including universities like Cal Tech, UC Berkeley, and Stanford, Silicon Valley, and the commerce and livelihoods of 40 million residents, apparently did not factor into their models some possible collective immunity among thousands of Californians who, for months, were on the front lines of arriving flights from China.
Nor did modelers seem to factor in the ability of people to social distance even before the shutdown was ordered, or the fact that a virus that does not kill 95.5 percent of those who are infected, but not frontline health workers or over 60 years old, may be deemed by the public manageable in a way that does not require having multigenerational small businesses ruined, or careers destroyed, or retirement savings accounts wrecked, or key appointments with doctors postponed or canceled.
Elite wisdom, which in its allegiance to the scientific method eventually is likely to find an antidote and vaccination against the virus, still fails us in so many other ways in which it should not, in part also because its high priests rarely face the consequences of their own ideological and scientific pronouncements.
Whatever the end result of this crisis, few at the WHO, CDC or the state health directors are going to lose their jobs in a way the small restaurateurs and Uber drivers most certainly will.
In their boundless “wisdom,” the Ruling Class “elites” seem determined to leave us with pitchforks, torches, and heads on pikes as our only possible recourse.