Don’t Tell Me…

One of the unspoken rules of the current Administration seems to be “Don’t tell me what I don’t want to know.” That’s especially true where science or impartial technical expertise is involved.

For the first time since 1941, there is no White House Presidential science advisor. Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, gutted the EPA Science Advisory Board, and replaced the scientists with industry shills. Ryan Zinke, the Interior Secretary, has transferred and otherwise marginalized or replaced scientists. Agency after agency has changed guidance and policy to minimize the use of scientific data and studies.

Why? While there’s been a muted denial of these events and statements along the lines of “redressing the balance” and “ensuring that the views of industry are heard,” the bottom line is simple. Quite a few industry practices are damaging to the environment and to public health, and the science is unequivocal on these points. There is no science that says more ozone from auto emissions isn’t unhealthy, or that fine particulates don’t cause lung damage, or that current coal mining practices aren’t contributing to black lung disease, or that coal mining tailings ponds aren’t endangering community water supplies – just to name a few issues out of many more.

Economists who pointed out that the “tax cuts” would create far greater long-term economic and only a one-time short term economic boost have been ignored, as have those who’ve pointed out that increasing tariffs would lead to trade wars, higher costs of living, and more international tensions.

Mr. Trump’s continual attacks on the Mueller investigation are another aspect of the “don’t tell me” attitude that pervades the administration. When Mueller’s legal team is obtaining not only indictment after indictment, but also guilty plea after guilty plea, it’s pretty clear that it’s not a witch hunt with no substance. There’s also evidence to indicate that a number of people warned Trump about problems with Michael Flynn, and Trump ignored them because it wasn’t what he wanted to hear.

Add to that the fact that he didn’t want to hear the irrefutable facts and pictures showing that his inauguration crowd was far less than he claimed or his continual denial of the facts showing that voting fraud by Americans is minuscule, especially compared to the significant evidence that the Russians attempted to influence the Presidential election. From all these examples, and quite a few others, it’s more than clear that this administration is ignoring anything and everything that doesn’t agree with its beliefs, and to a far greater extent than any previous administration, given how pervasive this willful ignorance has already become.

The real question is how long Trump and his supporters will be able to deny economic, scientific, legal, and other technical aspects of reality… and how much it will cost the rest of us to pick up the pieces and repair the damage… and how many people and organizations will be permanently injured by this cavalier mindset of denial.

8 thoughts on “Don’t Tell Me…”

  1. darcherd says:

    I think the answer to your last question is obvious. Truth and facts will be denied by politicians when they are inconvenient until a crisis arises and the facts can no longer be ignored. Has it ever been otherwise?

    1. RRCRea says:

      Yes. Obviously it has. The examples of this in just the USA alone throughout its history are too numerous to mention. No crisis necessitated the creation of the Bill of Rights. Etc. Etc. Etc. This kind of “It’s always been thus (therefore it’s okay that it is thus right now)” is actually one facet of the problem being addressed. Of course it’s easier to state that things have always been this way. That’s the perfect excuse for doing nothing now. Convenient. Easy. Lazy. Very, very much in tune with the whole idea of not being willing to hear things you don’t want to hear. If politicians have always been corrupt then what does it matter if they are slightly more corrupt now? It matters quite a lot, beyond a shadow of a doubt. And believing the “politicians are and always have been corrupt” narrative created largely by corrupt politicians to enable their actions, is a significant part of the problem.

  2. Nathaniel says:

    The problem isn’t really Trump, or even Congressional Republicans who’ve completely abdicated their oversight responsibility over the executive branch.

    The problem is that a portion of the country has for decades now been deliberately misinformed by a media collective, led by Murdoch, which has sought to harness their grievances (some of which are legitimate, such as economic stagnation, especially in poorer rural areas, others of which, such as the diminishing supremacy of the white patriarchy they consider “Real America”, are not) for personal and corporate gain.

    The overarching messages from that media have been hammered home for decades: You can’t trust media that isn’t us, and They are responsible for your problems. (“They” is mutable of course, designed to fit whatever current requirements are.)

    This has created an alternate universe where whole American and European cities are “no go zones” for white people, where Sharia law is something that could feasibly be implemented somewhere in the American justice system, and where the Democratic Party runs child sex trafficking out of a pizzeria.

    As long as the group of people willing to believe the above in spite of factual evidence to the contrary, and that group is large enough that they represent a majority of the Republican voter base, Republican officials will continue to cater to them.

  3. R. Hamilton says:

    The problem is also that environmental protection has on BOTH sides been a matter of ideology.

    In a perfect utopia, zero pollution of any kind would be the only thing that’s acceptable. But perfect utopias don’t exist, and the attempt to create them always kills people. Trying to wean ourselves from fossil fuels ASAP will cause more human misery than pollution, global warming, and any other harms, real or imagined, than might follow from continuing to use them until the technology to replace them matures…which is already happening, but gradually; and I don’t see that keeping fossil-fuel based industry from being prematurely destroyed significantly reduces the incentive to improve and ultimately deploy its replacement.

    1. M. Kilian says:

      Therein lies the problem- the companies that tap into fossil fuel sources look to supply the demand that people will happily pay for, which makes the providers and the consumers richer as the dependence grows. As it stands, trying to absolve even from bad practices in a sharp and abrupt manner would cause destruction wherever it happened.

      In some cases, the people and their leader have determined the harsh and immediate side-effects to be worth the outcome- in the Philippines, Duterte’s aggression against the drug cartels and anyone who supported them has had some devastating effects.
      Yet the people of the nation still hold the conviction that their struggle is worth the price, in order to avoid the future that they were being led to.

      Were that there were more people in this world who would band together and be willing to sacrifice the comfort of the present for a chance at posterity.

  4. darcherd says:

    Meh. What has posterity ever done for me?

    1. And that’s really the problem. Very few people want to sacrifice for the future beyond their lifetime, or possibly that of their children.

  5. Hi Mr. Modesitt, I’m a huge fan of your ‘Saga of Recluse’ stories. I’ve enjoyed every story you’ve told. I just finished ‘Renegade Mage’, it was a great story. I want to tell you that I wish there was a map of Elparta and the surrounding area. With all of the talk about the east/west banks of the river, I was completely confused about what the geography of the land outside Elparta. I felt like the map of Candar wasn’t necessarily accurate for this story, and mayhave caused me even more confusion. Anyways, keep up the good work, I look forward to more great stories from you.

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