Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Latest Trump Conundrum: Is Competence Desirable?

As the Trump Transition effort turns into the shitshow that was eminently predictable (more so that the election itself, apparently), it raises a classic question: is it better to have competent people developing and implementing US domestic and foreign policy under Trump?

In academic settings, I developed a basic hierarchy--that it would be better to have incompetent leadership than crazy leadership, and crazy* leadership rather than evil leadership.  The idea is that incompetent people can make lots of mistakes, but they are not deliberately doing harm and if they try to do deliberate harm, they may very well screw up and not do that much harm.  Crazy people may or may not do harm, depending on their strange ideas and thought processes and how those interact with the world.  Sometimes being paranoid can work out ok, sometimes not so much. 

 Of course, the various names being floated often overlap categories--that most of the Trump potential nominees are various shades of evil and they vary in how incompetent or crazy they are.  Ben Carson, before his name dropped out, could have been considered incompetent.  Frank Gaffney? Frickin crazy with all of his conspiracy theories.  Steve Bannon?  Unquestionably evil.  And, alas, he is smart.  He has been able to turn a hate website into a White House gig by playing Trump.

Is it better to have the most powerful country in the world driven by people who don't know what they are doing or by clever people who have awful agendas?  I think I am still going to go with my old position--dumb is better than smart for those who are going to be impacted by this government (which is everyone in the US and outside of it).

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