Woodrow Wilson was the President who began the transformation of the U.S. federal government into a collection of huge bureaucracies staffed by supposedly neutral and apolitical “experts” who could run things so much better than us ordinary humans could.
Hundred-plus years into this, we now have dozens of massive bureaucracies staffed by these so-called “experts.”
President Trump appears to have a somewhat different view.
The New York Times of December 28 has a piece by Brad Plumer and Coral Davenport that addresses how one particular group of these so-called “experts” — scientific ones — is faring under Trump.
The headline is “Science Under Attack: How Trump Is Sidelining Researchers and Their Work.” Excerpt:
In just three years, the Trump administration has diminished the role of science in federal policymaking while halting or disrupting research projects nationwide, marking a transformation of the federal government whose effects, experts say, could reverberate for years.
Political appointees have shut down government studies, reduced the influence of scientists over regulatory decisions and in some cases pressured researchers not to speak publicly.
The administration has particularly challenged scientific findings related to the environment and public health, opposed by industries such as oil drilling and coal mining.
It has also impeded research around human-caused climate change, which President Trump has dismissed despite a global scientific consensus.
But do supposed “experts” like scientists or economists in and out of the government really have a clue what they are doing?
Or are they just ordinary humans who use the cover of credentials and position to see how much power they can seize unto themselves at everyone else’s expense?
Let’s consider some examples that come up here at the end of 2019. I have three good ones for today.
Example 1: The Secret Pentagon Climate Change Report
The Guardian newspaper broke the big news back on February 22, 2004, in a piece titled “Now the Pentagon tells Bush: climate change will destroy us.”
It seems that the scientific “experts” at the Pentagon had generated a big Report on impending effects of climate change, but in the know-nothing Bush administration the Report had been “suppressed by US defense chiefs.”
The indefatigable investigative reporters at the Guardian then got hold of the document and revealed the shocking truth to the innocent public.
Why is this Report relevant today? Because its predictions relate to the year 2020 — in other words, just a few hours from now.
Here are some excerpts from the genius predictions of the Pentagon “experts”:
Climate change over the next 20 years could result in a global catastrophe costing millions of lives in wars and natural disasters… A secret report, suppressed by US defense chiefs and obtained by The Observer, warns that major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a ‘Siberian’ climate by 2020. Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine, and widespread rioting will erupt across the world. The document predicts that abrupt climate change could bring the planet to the edge of anarchy as countries develop a nuclear threat to defend and secure dwindling food, water, and energy supplies. The threat to global stability vastly eclipses that of terrorism, say the few experts privy to its contents. “Disruption and conflict will be endemic features of life,” concludes the Pentagon analysis. “Once again, warfare would define human life.”
The best part of the Guardian piece is how the “expert” Pentagon scientists and their supporters ridiculed the dopes in the Bush administration who wouldn’t take their advice:
The [Pentagon] findings will prove humiliating to the Bush administration, which has repeatedly denied that climate change even exists…
Bob Watson, the chief scientist for the World Bank and former chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, added that the Pentagon’s dire warnings could no longer be ignored.
“Can Bush ignore the Pentagon? It’s going be hard to blow off this sort of document. It’s hugely embarrassing. … The Pentagon is no wacko, liberal group, generally speaking, it is conservative. If climate change is a threat to national security and the economy, then he has to act.”
Of course, the same “experts” — plus a never-ending supply of new ones — are still predicting essentially the same things, except that the official date of the predictions has been pushed back from 2020 to 2030.
Who again is getting humiliated here?
Example 3: “Expert” EPA Staff Shot Down In Attempt To Banish Coal
This is one that you probably haven’t been following closely, but perhaps you should. You may remember that the Obama administration conducted a “War on Coal,” but likely you don’t remember how they did it.
A key piece of that War was an effort by EPA bureaucrats to tighten, and then tighten again, regulations on the amounts of very tiny particulate matter that can be emitted by power plants.
This is sometimes known as the PM2.5 air quality standard, with PM short for “particulate matter,” and 2.5 referring to particles with a size of 2.5 micrometers (millionths of a meter) or less.
At some point, as the regulations continued to tighten, no coal power plant could comply, and so they would all have to close. And then everybody’s price of electricity would go up; but why would an EPA bureaucrat care about that?
The key to this “administrative expert” thing is that Presidents may change, but the permanent bureaucracy goes on.
Do you think that maybe in a Trump presidency the permanent career bureaucrats at EPA have given up on the idea of using the PM2.5 standards to force the closure of all coal plants? Think again.
And thus in September 2019 the EPA “expert” staff came out with a gigantic Report with the great bureaucratic title of “Policy Assessment for the Review of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Particulate Matter, External Review Draft.”
You could try to read it, but that would really be next to impossible. It’s hundreds of pages long (although even getting an exact count of pages would take you hours because the pages are not numbered consecutively from beginning to end, and there are many lengthy appendices).
It’s all written in barely comprehensible bureaucratese. Here’s the beginning of the statement of “Purpose”:
The PA evaluates the potential policy implications of the available scientific evidence, as assessed in the ISA, and the potential implications of the available air quality, exposure or risk analyses.
The role of the PA is to help “bridge the gap” between the Agency’s scientific assessments and quantitative technical analyses, and the judgments required of the Administrator in determining whether it is appropriate to retain or revise the NAAQS.
Translated into English, that means they are cooking up some fake science to justify requiring the shutting of all remaining coal power plants. Will they get away with it?
Remarkably, President Trump seems to have gotten sufficient control of something called the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee to block this thing.
On December 16, the CASAC sent a letter to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler basically calling the EPA staff Report a big piece of BS. Key language:
The Draft PM PA [i.e., the EPA staff Report] depends on a Draft Particulate Matter (PM) Integrated Science Assessment (ISA) that, as noted in the April 11, 2019, CASAC Report on the Draft PM ISA, does not provide a sufficiently comprehensive, systematic assessment of the available science relevant to understanding the health impacts of exposure to PM, due largely to a lack of a comprehensive, systematic review of relevant scientific literature; inadequate evidence and rationale for altered causal determinations; and a need for clearer discussion of causality and causal biological mechanisms and pathways…
Anyway, I plan to continue in 2020 paying no attention whatsoever to the predictions of the so-called “experts,” most particularly on issues relating to the climate and the economy. Other, of course, then making fun of them from time to time. Happy New Year!
Read rest at Manhattan Contrarian
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