A crisis is good for a government because by emphasizing fear, they can acquire powers not otherwise available to them. Hence promote how awful any such occurrence is.
Former senior advisor to President Obama Rahm Emmanuel knew, “Never let a crisis go to waste”
In 1918, journalist H.L. Mencken saw it differently,. “Civilization, in fact, grows more and more maudlin and hysterical; especially under democracy it tends to degenerate into a mere combat of crazes; the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.”
Absent fear, governments would have little power. News would be boring. Life would be less stressful.
Would a business executive exaggerate a fearful condition to gain power? Not likely. His fear would be the loss of his position. Businesses must solve problems and do so quickly. There is no fear advantage.
You can see it in how a business approaches solutions.
In a business the first step is to gather information. The next is to devise tests, emphasis on the plural, and do what is known as A/B testing.
A simple example. Suppose you want to optimize the number of appointments you get by telephone solicitation. Test A uses script A while Test B uses B. Suppose a person calls 200 people using A, and then 200 more using B. The number of appointments is tallied and compared. If A gets 22 and B gets 41, Script A will never be used again.
The idea is to do small tests before committing to an answer. It’s like a proto-type mold. Build a cheap one that will make 50 pieces. If if the parts fit and do their job, then invest $200,000 building one that will last longer than you expect production to run. Test small, build robust.
If it is a serious issue, businesses will have several tests on the go. If it probably won’t make things worse, you can expect it to be testing somewhere.
Most often they do research, write reports, have meetings,, and come up with a consensus solution. They then design the method to implement it. Do they test two or more alternative solutions. Not often, if ever. The one big solution must be right.
Lockdown businesses and people to avoid contact. Use masks. Maintain social distance. Did that work? Provably no, but if you argue it would have been far worse without it, sure.
As vaccines come available, everyone must be vaccinated. Even those who have had the disease and have natural antibodies. They are accepting any vaccine risks attached for no value. Risk loss, win nothing, seems like a bad bet.
Once the government devises an answer they must enforce it. If they don’t there may be spontaneous, informal A/B testing. You can see why the Florida performance is an unhappy thing for the federal government. Florida is essentially testing the do little option, and leaving specific methods to the people. Their results are better than at least half the states with mandates, even though the age of their population is higher than average. Curious, no?
How will they federal government deal with that if results there continue to be as good or better than places who have done what the feds want?
If you cannot sustain your fear narrative, you will be ignored and they know it.
When their idealized answer loses credibility, their only tool is to be autocratic. Demand their solution be implemented and ramp up the fear propaganda. The governments cannot permit an A/B test that discredits what they want to do. You might want to question why they behave that way and how that behaviour provides any value to you. It might provide harm.
Telling the truth about what they know might be a useful first step. Better answers usually come from bad test results
Try not to be surprised when old discredited solutions recycle. Do not be surprised either when the states begin court challenges to the ability of the federal government to impose answers on their people.
A/B testing tends to find what works in practice, while government approaches tend to find what works in theory. There’s a difference.
Understand what it means. When you see fear promoted, assume it is propaganda and a government trying to acquire more power, or a media site trying to get more clicks.
There are no “right” answers for everyone. There may never be. We should be trying more things to learn quicker where the research should move and what is unnecessary.
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