Thursday, September 27, 2012

Short sighted government

The Left perennially complains that corporations are short sighted, since they are run based on quarterly profit and loss reports for Wall Street.  The Left complains that this focuses management on the short term, rather than the long term.  While this is over stated, there's a kernel of truth in the complaint.

What the Left never does is apply that same analysis to how government runs.  There is no profit or loss, and so the metric must be different - in fact, all government organizations use the metric of avoiding blame.  Indeed, as a larval Electrical Engineer at Three Letter Intelligence Agency I was sat down and taught the "Washington Post rule" which said "Nothing printed in the Washington Post about this Agency is good for this Agency".

Fair enough - the world is how it is, and institutions are how they are.  However, the Left could still apply the "short term vs. long term" metric, in which case they would find this positively horrifying example of the wrong decision being made for the wrong reason:
There seems to be no question that Lieu Tran had problems. Specifically, bipolar disorder.
Mr. Tran was a math teacher at a local high school. In April of 2011, he was told his contract wasn’t going to be renewed. This sent Mr. Tran into a downward spiral; he contacted a friend and told that friend he’d been having “scary thoughts about shooting his supervisors”. The friend gave him a ride to a mental hospital.
At the hospital, Tran repeated the thoughts to an admissions nurse, who testified that Tran cried, got into the fetal position and punched himself in the head during her interview with him. The nurse said she called an Austin police officer.
Mr. Tran engaged in a discussion with the APD officer later that day. He spent a week in the hospital, “having his medication adjusted and participating in group therapy”.
After he was released, he was arrested by APD and charged with “retaliation”, based on what APD considered to be his threats to “buy a firearm, tying up [Assistant Principal Sheila] Reed and [Principal Daniel] Garcia, shooting them in the arm and leg and making them watch him kill their families”.
Obviously the Austin Police didn't want to be blamed if this guy went off his meds and shot someone.  They would be able to point to how they had thrown his sorry butt in jail.  Complain about that, people!

Except now they've established a horribly perverse incentive structure: go to the hospital for help treating a perfectly treatable disease* and go to jail.  So riddle me this, members of the Left: can't we say that the APD just optimized their "rate of return" for the next 2 or 3 quarters at the expense of increased risk of violence and murder 2 or 3 years out?  Isn't this precisely the complaint you levy against publicly traded companies?  And don't you keep telling us that Government is what we choose to do together?

Except it's not, because what corporations do doesn't lead to higher levels of violence and murder.  The arresting officer and the D.A. should both be fired.

I keep waiting for the same level of outrage from the Usual Suspects targeted at the public sector.  You'd almost wonder whether all of this "moral high ground" is just a bunch of tribal BS to fool the rubes.


Kansas Scout said...

(I worked in a psych unit for 2 years in grad school)
There will be highly negative consequences to such aggressive intrusion into peoples personal crisis. As it stands now, a pedophile cannot seek help without pretty much guaranteeing prison.(How's that working out?!) Now if people have violent ideation, they can expect arrest?! Eventually as word gets out, they won't seek help and society will be even more dysfunctional and hurtful. The vast vast majority of people like the fellow you post about are actually quite harmless and just need meds to return to sanity and reasonable living. I hope he sues

Anonymous said...

Working on APD's logic just about everyone can be arrested for wanting to hurt, maim or kill other people. At some point in their lives at least one horrible vengeful thought is going to cross a persons mind when dealing with their fellow human beings. What the APD do not understand is that 99.999% of people do not act on these thoughts.

Anonymous said...

My tenure at a Three Letter Agency taught me that clear, concise, declarative sentences were NEVER to be used in analysis reports or briefs.

Tai said...

'perfectly treatable disease' has an asterisk at the end of it but no footnote. What's the follow-on comment?

Dwight Brown said...

Wow. Thanks.