Who do I trust?
by Doyle Ranstrom on Apr 6, 2020
My wife was watching a morning talk show with a political bent. She was watching because one of the guests is a prominent MD who we have found to be both knowledgeable and articulate when discussing health care. The MD was on the show to discuss the coronavirus.
I was on the way out the door to go on a bike ride when I heard the self-proclaimed conservative co-host say she understood why she did not trust the government, she now understood why others did not. Though I am sure she is bright and talented, I would respectfully disagree with her comment. As a lifetime independent moderate, I would tell her, the following:
I trust the government. I have never thought government at any level, local, state or National is perfect, but the vast majority of career employees I have met who work for government agencies at any level have been professional, knowledgeable and try to do their best, often in difficult situations. Note: I would say the same is true for most workers I have met in both the private and non-profits sectors. The reason is the vast majority of US workers are responsible and seek to do their jobs to the best of their ability.
Here is what I do not trust.
I do not trust anyone who says or has said the government is not the answer but the problem. At best these people are missing a few fries in their happy meal. At worst, the whole happy meal is gone.
- Many government workers from CDC to medical professionals to members of the armed services are working very hard to address the pandemic.
- We as taxpayers our bailing out our country to the tune of $2 Trillion dollars.
- The government is neither big or small, it is either effective or ineffective. When it is ineffective, it the fault of Nationally elected leaders and their political appointees.
- Any National politicians and their media supporters who have said government is the problem should immediately resign out of embarrassment. [FYI, embarrassment is when you say or do something really stupid and then finally have to admit it.]
I do not trust National Politicians and their media supporters who said in February the coronavirus was a hoax. This means they do not understand science or public health. Those who thought it was a hoax may have a canoe, but no paddles.
I do not trust Nationally Elected leaders who cannot think or plan for the future past their next fundraiser.
- The current administration defunded the Predict Program, a government research program, sought to identify animal viruses that might infect humans and to head off new pandemics.
- Recently, Dr. Peter Hotez, co-director of the Centre for Vaccine Development at Texas Children's Hospital, testified before the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee. He said “we had the vaccine ready to go," The doctor told lawmakers about a vaccine his team developed to protect against a strain of coronavirus in 2016, however, he could not get funding to move forward with the research.
- In January 2017 Dr. Anthony Fauci who now is on TV almost every day regarding the coronavirus, its impact and federal response said at a conference in Georgetown “If there’s one message that I want to leave with you today based on my experience, it is that there is no question that there will be a challenge to the coming administration in the arena of infectious diseases,”
These types of leaders are perfect examples of the expression "penny wise - pound foolish". By not planning for the future and saving a few dollars at the time, these short-sighted leaders have literally cost all of us Trillions in additional government spending.
I do not trust Nationally elected leaders or their media supporters who continually blame their political opponents for National problems. There may be an elevator in their building, but definitely the top floor is empty.
I do not trust Nationally elected leaders who accept money from PACS. At best they are tainted, at worst bought and paid for. Think about it this way, if you found out you had an employee who was accepting a large amount of money from a third party to influence how he/she job did their job, you would fire the employee immediately. Now keep in mind all Nationally elected leaders are paid by the US government and are all of our employees.
- I truly believe for our democracy to function for all of us going forward, all candidates for National elected offices should be limited in fundraising to transparent gifts from individuals in their state or district who can vote for them. This will likely require an amendment to the Constitution, but I do believe it will eventually happen.
I do not trust any political appointment in which the appointee has no direct high-level experience in the agency. Completing first grade does not qualify one to be Director of Education. Finding Africa on a global map does not qualify someone for being a diplomat. Having once been treated in the ER does not qualify to lead public National health care response.
- The reason I trust Dr. Fauci is he is a long-term professional in public health and leading experts in infectious deceases. Also, every time I have watched him speak, it is clear to me his primary concern is the health of America and not the politicians who stand around him.
I do not listen to or trust national political talk shows or political talk radio. When I review articles discussing media issues with quotes or statements from various political pundits, I have often thought crime may not pay, but ignorance or at least pretending to be ignorant can pay very well.
Who do I generally trust?
- I trust independent academic research. NOAA, for example, is a source of independent research.
- I trust public health professionals along with professionals who provide medical care. I may not always agree, but I trust they trying to provide the best health care.
- I trust journalists who are experts in their field and identify sources of information that I can review independently.
- I trust professionals with both academic credentials and experience in their fields and are not paid funded by news media outlets or businesses. For example, a scientist who is funded by the oil industry is not a source of independent analysis or research on climate change.
- I did not say I always agree with any of the above, but I do trust they are striving to provide unbiased information, knowledge, and recommendations.
I generally trust professional government employees at all levels. The vast majority of I have met are striving to do their jobs to the best of ability. Trust for Nationally elected leaders, their political appointees have to be earned based on the decisions they make in difficult situations. This includes the rationale and supporting evidence they use to make the decisions.
Finally, though it is likely to get worse before it gets better, one of the reasons I believe we will get through this pandemic is all the government employees in many different capacities who are working and often risking their personal health to address the problem today and plan for the next one tomorrow.