By ART CHANCE
We’ve had a lot of purported experts paraded before us as we’ve endured now almost two years of semi-house arrest. What started out as “two weeks to flatten the curve” has turned into two years to flatten the country.
For the most part. Americans have supinely accepted the opinions of the “experts” that we were to sacrifice our liberty and for many our livelihood based on their opinions. If you haven’t already done so, it is time to examine who we really consider to be an expert and just what qualifies them to claim expertise.
The most famous expert in the U.S. these days is Dr. Anthony Fauci. Let’s examine what tests would be applied should the government call Dr. Fauci as an expert witness in a lawsuit and the opposing counsel objected to his accreditation as an expert on the grounds that he was not competent to express an opinion.
I can tell you from my own experience, if you’d like to send a purported expert witness out through the overhead of the hearing room, as soon as s/he is called, you ask for voir dire, an examination of the witness’ competence to render an opinion, and then after voir dire, you object to the witness’ testimony on the grounds that they are not qualified to offer opinions. Even if you lose the objection, you will have caused most witnesses to lose their mind in a fit of apoplexy, and angry people don’t think clearly.
To underpin this a bit, there are two kinds of witnesses. The first is fact or ordinary witnesses, who can only testify to what they saw, touched, heard, smelled or otherwise directly observed. An ordinary witness cannot express an opinion.
Then, there are expert witnesses who must be accredited and accepted as capable of expressing an opinion due to their expertise. A prolonged course of study or experience in the specific area to which s/he will testify will generally result in accreditation as an expert.
If you’re trying a use of force case involving a cop, the plaintiff calls some former cop who trained cops in the force continuum and asks his opinion on the propriety of the use of force. Assuming he really has taught the courses and is familiar with the particular department’s force policies, his testimony as to his expert opinion will be accepted. Then the accused cop’s lawyer calls his expert who is equally well-accredited and who testifies that the plaintiff’s expert is merely a paid shill. Whomever gets believed becomes a matter of which advocate can tell the best story and which “expert” was more personable.
In the real world unless an expert is spectacularly good or spectacularly bad, experts just moot each other and it comes down to a question of whose story is more believable. The government “expert” such as Fauci is another matter altogether. When Dr. Fauci, or Secretary of State Antony Blinken, or Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley steps up to the lectern and in front of the cameras, there is no nasty-tempered guy like me just itching to say, “Voir dire, please.”
The media, even at the highest levels of the White House Press Corps social club, are for the most part just pretty people with at most a bachelor’s or master’s degree in communications or journalism.
Let’s be honest, those are degrees for people who can’t or won’t do demanding academic work. Since the late 1960s and early 1970s, the schools have dumbed down college both out of avariciousness and to avoid the plaintiffs’ bar. They developed degree programs for people who shouldn’t be any closer to a college classroom than the custodial closet or the grounds crew.
The effect of the dumbing down of college and the “studies” and other general degrees is worst in government and corporate America. In 1971 the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in Griggs v. Duke Power, in which Willie Griggs alleged that Duke Power’s minimum qualifications for a promotion that he had been denied lacked business utility and had a discriminatory impact on minorities.
Any reasonable reading of the record will reveal that Mr. Griggs was right; the minimum qualifications didn’t relate to the job and were clearly designed to discriminate against blacks, and so the U.S. Supreme Court agreed. In one fell swoop, almost all skills testing and specific minimum qualifications for employment went away; it was simply too difficult and expensive to prove that your requirements were not discriminatory.
Government and big businesses mostly relied on “a degree” as the minimum qualification because that at least proved that you could show up at one place every day for four years. Jobs where “a degree” couldn’t be justified relied on long probationary periods during which an employee could more easily be dismissed. The colleges responded by making sure that anyone could get “a degree.” The problem is that the person with “a degree” today has what would have been about an Eighth Grade education in the 1960s, but has been told that they are the smartest, best-educated person the World has ever produced.
Back to Dr. Fauci. He’s old enough to have received a decent education and is a degreed medical doctor from a once good school, Cornell University. He completed his residency at Cornell Medical Center in 1968 and went to work for the federal government at the National Institutes of Health and has been in leadership positions in various federal health agencies ever since.
“Doctor” Fauci last practiced medicine as most of us understand that phrase as a resident, a doctor in training, at Cornell in 1968; he’s been a bureaucrat ever since. In just what is Dr. Fauci an expert? My own view of appointee-level bureaucrats who can survive multiple political administrations is that they are simply prostitutes; they’ll do anything for money, and Fauci has done very, very well at making money.
In addition to being the highest paid federal employee, he and his pals at CDC/NIH et al. managed to lobby Congress to give them the right to hold ownership in process and pharmaceutical patents developed under the auspices of their agencies; no other federal employees can do that. Fauci’s $400K is just the tip of his economic iceberg.
Then the Government puts people like Blinken and Milley in front of us to impart their expertise; in just what does either have any real expertise? Blinken is Democrat, Ivy League, and government royalty, but other than a year or so “practicing law” in the ‘80s has never been anything other than a political operative or appointee. He has a bachelor’s degree in “social studies” from Harvard University and edited The Crimson.
Later, he wrote for “The New Republic,” which removes all doubts about his politics. He has a law degree from Columbia University. His upper-class liberal credentials are impeccable, but what about that resume tells you that he actually knows how to do anything other than pay the tuition and show up occasionally. Since he left college he has never run anything or produced anything, yet he is considered an “expert” on international affairs and is in charge of the foreign policy of the United States.
General Milley is a general officer of the U.S. Army and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He looks every inch the military man and has enough “fruit salad” on his jacket to pass for a Third World dictator. Though he looks the part of the military man, he is a bureaucrat.
The popular image of the military commander is the service academy graduate who came out as a 2nd Lieutenant, commanded a platoon, and if he lived long enough made his way up through the ranks to ultimately command an army.
Milley went to Princeton and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in politics. He got his military commission from being in the ROTC at Princeton University. He went on to get masters degrees in International Relations from Columbia and National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College. His biography also notes that he was an attendee at an MIT seminar on National Security. That makes me feel special because I have a MIT/Harvard certificate for my attendance at a seminar on Interest Based Collective Bargaining. All it takes is money, preferably somebody else’s money.
General Milley skipped that step where you got dirty, slept on the ground, and got shot at; he went straight from his academic endeavors to the command level in the military. He’s the equivalent of the MBA/MPA who shows up at your worksite fresh out of school and proceeds to tell you how to do what s/he doesn’t know how to do. He spent his career in a dress uniform unless he needed to look the part of a combat soldier. When he was in Class As, you can bet his creases were razor sharp and the knot in his tie had fearful symmetry. In his whole career if he heard a shot fired in anger it was from a great distance and he certainly never heard a bullet whizzing past his ear.
So, a couple of weeks ago, Gen. Milley was holding forth on understanding white rage, understanding Critical Race Theory, and holding forth about eliminating “white supremacy” from the ranks of the military. Who could have imagined that someone like that could totally screw the pooch and get people needlessly killed in withdrawing from Afghanistan?
There is going to be a bloodbath in Afghanistan, and it was Milley’s job to make sure that didn’t happen. He stands before the cameras as an expert, but he’s never done anything but write memos and sign purchase orders. From whence cometh his expertise in military strategy and tactics?
The experts and the credentialed class in America are simply a national disgrace. We just saw it in Anchorage with the library director kerfuffle in recent weeks. A masters in library science is just another “studies” degree and a fake credential pushed by an interest group, the American Library Association. Lots of “professions” have such associations that spend money and lobbying effort to make sure that only those they have chosen can practice their profession. The Ivy League is just such an association, and you need your head examined if you hire an Ivy graduate from outside the STEM areas, and be careful with those.
Art Chance is a retired Director of Labor Relations for the State of Alaska, formerly of Juneau and now living in Anchorage. He is the author of the book, “Red on Blue, Establishing a Republican Governance,” available at Amazon.