Politicians and bureaucrats have no skin in our game

More and more Americans are rebelling, in word and in deed, against the measures imposed on us by bureaucrats and politicians, and their actions (or inactions) in the face of the challenges confronting us.

We’re reading the scientific and other studies for ourselves, and realizing that the measures we’re being asked to implement are, in many cases, unproven – indeed, sometimes proven to be ineffective.  Wearing masks to counter COVID-19 is a good example.  A mask does not protect me:  it protects those around me, to a limited extent, if, and only if, I happen to be infected.  If I’m not infected, it’s effectively a waste of time and money.  Forcing me to wear a mask is, in so many words, to say that I’m guilty of COVID-19 until proven innocent.  In a genuine pandemic environment, where infection is a probability rather than a possibility, that’s understandable and acceptable.  In one where infection is highly unlikely, it’s laughable and derisory – and we know it, because we can read the facts for ourselves.  Outside a properly fitted respirator and/or a MOPP suit, face masks are generally ineffective.

The same applies to restrictions on businesses.  There are legitimate restrictions that make sense – for example, limiting the number of people that can gather at an indoor function where close proximity makes infection more likely.  On the other hand, forcing people to wear a mask when they enter a restaurant, but only until they sit down, whereupon they can take the mask off and keep it off until they leave . . . that’s simply nonsensical.  It defies reason.  To impose such a regulation is to invite scorn and derision on those who made it.

One can expand that to a wider arena than the COVID-19 pandemic.  Look at the current riots and violent demonstrations around the country.  The politicians and bureaucrats who are failing to do anything to stop them have no real stake in the cities and regions that they were elected or appointed to supervise.  As a result, they pander to the most visible threats to their positions, ignoring the people “on the ground” who are most affected by events – businesses, home-owners, those with an actual, physical stake in their communities.  Their interests are ignored in favor of political correctness and the zeitgeist du jour.  Attempts by those most affected to defend themselves and their property can even attract more adverse police attention than the rioters themselves – witness the McCloskeys in St. Louis, as we’ve discussed before in these pages.  Activist, progressive authorities will pander to the rioters every time, and crack down on those trying to defend what’s theirs, because they believe most people will remain supine for fear of being seen as politically incorrect.  Sadly, in many cases, they’re right.

A couple of years ago, Nassim Taleb had this to say about leaders with no skin in the game.

What is Skin in the Game? The phrase is often mistaken for one-sided incentives: the promise of a bonus will make someone work harder for you. For the central attribute is symmetry: the balancing of incentives and disincentives, people should also [be] penalized if something for which they are responsible goes wrong and hurts others: he or she who wants a share of the benefits needs to also share some of the risks.

My argument is that there is a more essential aspect … Unless consequential decisions are taken by people who pay for the consequences, the world would vulnerable to total systemic collapse. And if you wonder why there is a current riot against a certain class of self-congratulatory “experts”, skin in the game will provide a clear answer: the public has viscerally detected that some “educated” but cosmetic experts have no skin in the game and will never learn from their mistakes, whether individually or, more dangerously, collectively.

. . .

Yet the social science and the bureaucrato-BSers have missed and keeps missing that skin in the game is an essential filter. Why? Because, outside of hard science, scholars who do not have skin in the game fail to get that while in academia there is no difference between academia and the real world, in the real world, there is. They teach evolution in the classrooms but, because they are not doers, they don’t believe that evolution applies to them; they almost unanimously vote in favor of a large state and advocate what I’ve called “Soviet-Harvard top-down intelligent design” in social life.

There’s more at the link.

“Skin in the game is an essential filter”.  That says it all – and our politician and bureaucrat “leaders” have almost no skin in our game, so they tend to be ineffective and disconnected from reality.  Instead, they are bribed by vested interests and those who will pay for regulations that suit them, rather than the rest of us.  Consider:

  • The bureaucrats who make regulations to counter COVID-19 are embedded within the health care system.  They do what’s best for that system, whether or not it’s efficient or effective for the rest of us.  What’s more, because they’re operating in their own little bureaucratic cocoon, agreeing with each other and not bothering to talk to the “little people” outside it, they don’t care whether or not the measures they impose are hurting the rest of us, or the economy, or the country.  That’s not their problem.
  • The politicians who allow the bureaucrats to make such regulations, or who fail to control the extremists who are rioting in our streets, are also living in their own little cocoon.  Their priority is to be re-elected to power, where they can make a good thing out of the hard work of the rest of us.  Notice how few actual, successful business people there are in politics?  Their numbers are vanishingly small.  They’re too busy running their successful businesses, and earning the rewards of their hard work.  Politicians have seldom put that much skin into the game.  They’ve never risked their own money or labor at a venture;  instead, they risk ours, and take a slice of the money we earn off the top in the form of taxes and other impositions.

How many politicians start off poor, and retire very rich?  Take a look at the numbers for Congress.  How do they earn that much on a bureaucrat’s or administrator’s salary?  If that doesn’t make you angry, nothing will!  The “skin in the game” of politicians and administrators is to make as much as they can from special interests, while ignoring the needs of the rest of us.  As America Veritas points out:

From the Senate Building in Washington DC to the council chambers of a sleepy New England village, the bread and butter of political profiteering is The Favor. Trading favors, in a string, allows for politicians to compromise publically and profit privately. It’s also the method used to reach higher power. The more power someone has, the more money they are able to make by offering access to that power in exchange for something. Here is a common example: If a politician is privy to the decision making process within government to build a new road, they are able to communicate with a developer (Their brother’s company? Their friend’s?) to tell them what the current bids are from other developers so they can undercut them and win the contract every time. To get even more money from this process, things can get even more insidious. This is illegal. It’s unethical. But, it’s extremely common at the city and state level.

. . .

On the national level, less work seems to get done than ever, but public servants at this level almost always become millionaires. Lobbyists and corporate agents have direct access to politicians in Washington … Like running water searching for the lowest point to settle, multinational corporations will act according to what they are allowed to get away with. When a politician has their hand out, they are the party most at fault because they are directly responsible to their boss, the American electorate.

By putting up the cash to get their pet politicians elected time after time, they are actually making an investment with a massive return. A few hundred thousand dollars over the course of 4-6 years can have a return of hundreds of millions as these politicians favor these corporations with lucrative contracts. This is largely why legislation from Democrats and Republicans fails to make people’s lives better. The US congress is almost entirely bought out and the government serves as a piggy bank for the elites and the corporate class.

Again, more at the link.

That’s why COVID-19 regulations make no practical sense “on the street”.  That’s why rioters are allowed to get away – sometimes literally – with murder.  Those in charge of such things don’t care about how we experience them, because they have no skin in our game.  Rather, they have skin in the game of those who sponsor them, and how they want such things to be.  When a George Soros funds the re-election campaigns of progressive District Attorneys around the country, to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars apiece, guess what those DA’s are going to do once in office?  That’s right.  They’re going to dance to their sponsors’ tunes.  The same applies to mayors, and bureaucrats, and anyone else.  Where’s the money coming from?  That’s also where the regulations and the influence is coming from.

Remember in November.  Look for where the candidates are getting their money.  If it’s from outside pressure groups, as a general principle, don’t trust them, and don’t vote for them – or, if they’re all getting outside money, try to choose the lesser of the evils confronting you, and hold them accountable for their pre-election promises.



    1. Wouldn't help. His son's already been groomed to take over, and his fortune's been set up to continue his crap when he's gone… but seeing he and sonny eviscerated has a certain appeal.

  1. I agree that the majority of Whuflu "control" measures are constantly changing for
    many ridiculuos reasons including political ones. I do think there is an unintended
    consequence regarding the regular yearly flu season that I expect to be minimal.
    Consider that the prophylactic measures of multiple daily hands washing and persons
    showing signs of illness such as fever, coughing and sneezing are forbidden to be
    on the job. Add that the schools are mostly closed (in error) and that means the
    children spreading the yearly flu can no longer do so.
    This clearly indicates that the usual flu disease vectors are now highly restricted
    and that a very limited flu season spread can be expected.

  2. Hey Peter;

    And people know it, more and more people are telling the state and academia to "Pound sand" but in much vulgar terms", they know that they are getting played and people getting played tend to get really grumpy and remember who played them. If the Kung-flu had hit outside of an election year, the restrictions wouldn't have been so haphazard or draconian because some of the state governors are trying to punish their constituents because they have channeled their inner dictator for example Michigan Governor Witless, and on the other side of the spectrum is the Governor from South Dakota Kristi Noem, she has applied common sense to her state unlike say Andrew Cuomo for example. It will be interesting to see how it plays out the next few months, I think if President Trump wins, the Kung-Flu will drop off the radar After Christmas because they can't flog him on it, they will find something else to throw on him. If Biden wins(God help us) it will vanish by thanksgiving.

  3. "How many politicians start off poor, and retire very rich?"
    But… but… those are dedicated public servants!
    If, on the other hand, someone gets rich in private enterprise before getting into politics, well, he's clearly just in it for the money, and he and his rich buddies will be looting the treasury to line their own pockets. Because obviously.
    (I think most high-profile political commentators are incapable of processing anything beyond one simple declarative sentence at a time, and logical consistency is not a concept to which they've been exposed.)

  4. I've said this elsewhere, and now here; If you have a Democrat mayor and a Democrat governor, YOU are a two-time loser.

  5. The last elite this corrupt, this venal, this contemptuous, this stupid was beheaded in the public square or machine-gunned in basements.

  6. What the political class we currently have doesn't consider is that when things come to a head, as it most clearly will, the backlash will be wide and deep. Overreaction will be the order of the day, and lots of peripheral people, that most would consider to be safe, will be swept up by the brooms used in cleaning the Augean Stables. History shows this always happens, to include family members of notables. The police will be included, as they have demonstrated that their retirement benefits are more important than doing their job, just like all the other government types. The optics really put them in a bad light in this regard. I expect that "former cop" will become a pejorative label.

  7. re: Congressional pay

    income $175K/year
    DNC dues are $250K year

    In 2019 AOC needed to wait for he first congressional paycheck before she could afford an apartment in DC

    I heard a story a couple days before the June 2020 primary that she personally contributed $1m to her reelection effort (personal money of the candidate has no limits)

    I haven't been able to find the story again, but unfortunately it has a ring of truth to it.

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