by El Gato Malo
February 08, 2022
the rise and dominance of the military and industrial might that had
driven fascism and imperialism to the fore in the 1930's.
He saw it in Germany, in Italy, and in Japan.
He saw it ongoing in the
united states and in the Soviet Union and the Cold War that was ripe
to be waged and to come to dominate public perception and
geopolitics as a result.
Largely, he was
For this reason,
his Farewell Address is well
remembered for its warnings against the "military industrial
In the councils of
government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted
influence, whether sought or unsought, by the
The potential for the
disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We
must never let the weight of this combination endanger our
liberties or democratic processes.
We should take nothing for granted.
Only an alert and
knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the
huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our
peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may
This is a wise and
principled man who had seen enough of war and of war mongers to wish
to see no more.
His stark warnings about industry and government riding around in
the same car resulting in the driving over of we the people and the
need for an informed, alert public protective of its liberty and
agency that it might thrive and prosper in freedom rings as true to
today as it did then.
Oracular as this was, even more prescient was this less remembered
but, to my mind, far more presently important admonition:
Akin to, and largely
responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military
posture, has been the technological revolution during recent
In this revolution, research has become central, it also becomes
more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing
share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal
The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal
employment, project allocation, and the power of money is ever
present and is gravely to be regarded.
Yet in holding scientific discovery in respect, as we should, we
must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public
policy could itself become the captive of a
Because unlike many
generals who are mired in the past and determined to fight the last
war, Ike saw the shape of the war to come for this, not the arms
races of great powers, is the threat to the lives and livelihoods of
today and it is further reaching and holds the potential to be FAR
This is the "tyranny
of experts" and the utter dominance of discourse and
the foundational freedoms and order of society that it can attain.
technocratic domination comes to
pass because of a feedback loop that establishes the framework, both
political and scientific, to create a "rule by experts"...
The problem is that by the time this loop has run, there are not
experts, merely commissars, chosen and promoted for fealty, not
foresight or accuracy.
Science becomes a guild
of medieval bards singing the false praises of feckless leaders
because more so now that ever, science runs on money and just as in
the courts of kings, he who pays the piper shall call the tune.
The government picks scientists who tell it what it wants to hear.
These are elevated. Others are starved...
Soon, anyone entering a
field knows that,
"if you want have a
career, you need to study X and your conclusions must look like
This is not exploration,
This, in turn, supports
the "right sort of government," a technocratic government, not one
pushing choice or a small state. That's no use to the grant grabbers
and subsidy snufflers.
So "the science" always
comes down on the side of fascist systems because that's where the
gravy train is.
And this is a bad, bad cycle for those in search of personal rights
and agency, for the whole point of a technocratic state is to tell
you what to do for your own good and get rich and powerful while
So it all comes down to money and who gets to
hand it out...
The grant and subsidy system for American science has become VAST
and this vastness poses several problems:
It crowds out
private science. You cannot compete against those getting
free money with money you have to raise, pay back, and
provide return upon. This is especially true in basic
science whose time to return is longer and outcomes less
certain. This pushes the private sector out of entire
funding based on non-market considerations. There is no
valid system to compare alternative uses of scarce capital.
It is instead
allocated using patronage and the preferences of bureaucrats
aspiring to be princes. This becomes both self serving and
self supporting. It results in deep and enduring regulatory
and public choice capture.
the power of the purse and thereby the power to literally
direct and shape the sweep of scientific endeavor into the
hands of a small, unaccountable aristocracy who in turn,
feed a set of select universities, ideologies, and
organizations drawing them into their financial and dogmatic
orbits. And the gravity of such systems comes to dominate
The establishment of such
systems is always done for what sound like the best of reasons.
should fund studies in tropical diseases!"
This sounds great.
Who is not favor of
more tropical disease solutions? Let's cure it! Huzzah...!
But this is a trap.
It's easy to pass this off to the citizenry as,
"the good kind of
government" and the "solving of real problems to the benefit of
the general welfare."
But it's not...
Generally, it's a huge
waste, a carnival of cronyism, and the setup for the ideological
domination of science by a few unaccountable agents so that that
science can, in turn, be used to justify and dominate government
opposing anything remotely libertarian in favor of central planning.
Consider the above points:
So we fund research
into tropical disease with government grants and projects.
This crowds out the
private projects. But it also prevents unrelated projects. It
takes scarce capital and research talent and allocates it to
Even if they find a
Was this a good
How can you even
What else might
we have done with the same resources?
This is one of the great
governmental sleights of hand.
They point to a benefit and ignore not just the cost, but also the
What else might we
have done with that money?
Sure, we 'cured' Zika,
but what if we could have reduced heart disease by 25% using the
That would be a FAR
greater benefit and central allocators have no way to weigh such
things or even get a real look at the universe of options.
Should we fund work
on prions or stem cells...?
Should we pursue
vaccines or means of treatment or possibly ways to make people
more innately healthy?
These are questions you
need a market to answer. government will never get them right. It
does not even have incentive to try to get it right.
So you get a program that sounded good, but is almost certainly a
huge net loser relative to what you could have had and you lose
unpredictable advances because they are starved of funding and
This then concentrates the power in the hands of a very few people.
You get things like the
He's the highest paid
He's paid more than
And he's not even the
head of his agency.
But he is the top gold
giver, the funder at the center of the spider web who has half the
universities in the US on payroll and who knows how many non-profit
and corporate collaborations ongoing.
This makes him untouchable. he can color WAY outside the lines on
gain of function and nothing happens even when the evidence surfaces
that the NIH probably paid
Peter Daszak and co at EHA to
Covid-19 in Wuhan.
(And yes, despite what
many claim, the evidence on this is extremely compelling. The
systematic suppression of that evidence stands testament to just how
much power and fealty one can amass in 40 years of scientific
These fiefdoms exist at the sufferance of and therefore must be of
benefit to the governmental powers that be.
Modern government has been veering dangerously into technocracy.
"this is too
important to be left to markets" or "markets cannot account for
This is, of course,
Only free markets and
well designed rights structures can assess trade-offs in any
meaningful sense and generate the pareto-optimal outcomes that do
not strip from high value projects to fund those of low worth.
The state is not seeking to fix this, they are seeking to break it
because they have projects that suit their desire for power,
ideologies, and the financial weal of themselves and their conies
Fascism is foremost a corporatist system of organization.
It creates a connected
aristocracy where the government dominates the companies and the
companies dominate the government as one filthy hand rubs another
and the dirt winds up all over we the people, for everywhere and
always will Gato's First Law of political economy pertain:
"as soon as you allow
politicians to determine that which is bought or sold, the first
thing to be bought and sold will always be politicians."
This is what politicians
and big business alike want.
Politicians need the
money to run their campaigns and seek to dominate business focus as
a means to express and consolidate power. Big business wants to be
bigger business and as such is no fan of competition or free
They want regulation,
subsidy, preferencing, and means to exclude others from their
And the solution to both of these sets of desires is the same:
If you have government by
experts telling us what to do, where to allocate resources,
dictating regulation, taxation, and social mores for "the common
good" then government gets to bend you to its vision, and big
business gets to do the bending and profit handsomely from it.
This inherently pits special interest against the public interest.
But the public is notoriously sensitive to such and so pretext and
justification is needed.
And this is why federal funding of science is so unspeakably
Once federal funding comes to dominate scientific endeavor, it leads
to rapid and inevitable corruption of science. it ceases to be an
adversarial field of challenge and contest and becomes a form of
techno-clerisy, a priesthood protecting its doctrine.
The feedback loop rapidly reduces whole fields into dogmatic dross
of purified fealty highly suited to political purpose but anathema
to any sort of endeavor that the likes of Sir Francis Bacon
would have recognized as science.
Governmental money is the alkahest of scientific method. it
dissolves it into politics and strips it of its vital nature.
We've seen this in 100 fields. Climate science was ravaged and
reduced to a one note flute of backbench hacks elevated to
prominence like so many soviet commissars who had never even seen a
farm placed in charge of agriculture to ensure the ideological
purity of turnips.
And so we get vast subsidies for renewables and electric
vehicles that could not compete in a market unaided and likely
make little or no overall environmental sense.
Other options (like
nuclear) are discarded out of hand not because they are dangerous,
but because they work and the cronies cannot compete against them.
Power grids become more expensive and less reliable.
The RTO policies
purported to bring market forces to electricity instead brought
double the rules and even more cronyism.
The system is
It justifies its crony corporatism by waving around "the science"
that it bought bespoke for just that purpose under the auspices of
It fudges figures,
adulterates data, and uses models with no proven predictive
power as basis for world shaping policy and punditry.
It suppresses alternatives and ideas like adaptation.
The Covid response has
been little different.
The testing industrial
complex that Fed the terrible and over inclusive definitions of
cases and hospitalizations and deaths became something akin to a
perpetual motion machine for each new round of testing begat more "Covid"
and thus demanding more testing to support counterproductive
metrics, inflate threat, and, of course, to produce "more Covid" to
start the cycle again.
We ran 2 million
tests a day in the US at some points.
Overall, we spent on
the order of $1.5 billion dollars a week on it, probably $80
billion last year alone.
We ran more tests for
Covid than flu tests in my whole lifetime and maybe ever in our
history as a nation.
And it bought us
We went all in on
vaccines that do not stop spread.
It was not "warp speed" it was "warped science."
Because that is how it ALWAYS works...