The Crisis in Portland and the Question of Competence

I want to talk (again) about competence. A large part of the crisis of confidence in American institutions is driven not just by the concern that our institutions are ideologically misguided, but by the all-too-accurate perception that they can’t do their jobs. We’ve seen this failure play out in both tragedy (the immense testing failures at the start of the pandemic) and farce (the Iowa Democrats’s inability to count their caucus). 

And it just keeps happening. See, for example, the Scott Gottlieb Wall Street Journal piece we highlighted in our Morning Dispatch. It begins:

The Covid epidemic in the South has strained the country’s capacity to keep up with the demand for testing. Six months into the pandemic, we still don’t have enough supplies, equipment or lab services. There’s no national plan for effectively allocating the capacity that does exist or providing a sufficient surge where it’s needed suddenly.

The system is overwhelmed. Major commercial labs are reporting turnaround times of around seven days, and patients say it’s often longer. Without a confirmed diagnosis, many infected patients don’t isolate themselves or get treatments.

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