McHugh David: Government inefficiencies come to light in communication

Response to COVID-19 remains fluid – and that’s a nice way to put it.

In the past two weeks, guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and, therefore, Louisiana Department of Education has changed constantly on how systems and schools will respond if someone involved in the infrastructure of that school reports a positive COVID-19 test.

The current version is version four, in just two weeks. Every time new guidance is released it must be inspected, digested, changes noted, and the plan then re-built. Then, it must be sent out to all campuses for them to, again, inspect it, digest it, changes noted, and then implemented.

Unless there are problems, of course.

Similar occurances have hit businesses, as well, while owners and operators try to navigate the governor’s mask mandate. Some businesses received an inspection, with no idea they were going to receive an infraction.

Some knew they would, however, but others were caught completely off-guard. They were unsure exactly how to communicate to their customers the exact rules of the mask mandate.

There are even early reports of businesses who are closed receiving infractions from the Louisiana Department of Health.

There’s a quote, attributed to a Robert J., which is stated as such: ‘Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence.’

Known as ‘Hanlon’s Razor,’ more empathetic individuals would simply say that ‘some bad things happen, not because of people having bad intentions, but because they did not think it through properly.’

When applied politically, the quote is more aptly put as ‘some bad things happen, not because of people having bad intentions, but because they have zero clue how the day-to-day works at the level they are governing.’

What fills the void of that cluelessness? Confusion, problems, local officials and leaders actually having to face real people dealing with those hurdles. For the most part, those making the rules are completely insulated from having to deal with any of the blowback from their decisions.

Some of the truly good leaders will feel the fire second-hand, sure, but first-hand experience is always the best.

Consider what happened after the flood. FEMA officials showed up en-masse looking for lodging. Surely they had training in disaster situations, especially a flood? Where were they supposed to stay? Not in Livingston Parish, but they didn’t know that.

Now consider a Department of Health employee, given an official state badge, a mandate, and some power – and zero business experience.

What do we expect the results of those inspections to be?

Take the schools – giant pamphlets of information are generated somewhere in Atlanta, Georgia and then sent off to school systems in all 50 states.

Are we to believe that school systems in Louisiana are the same as even Texas, the Bayou State’s nextdoor neighbor?

What about all indoor versus some indoor schools, that have open campuses? How about guidance for smaller versus larger schools – how different was that delivery? Was there a difference?

Some how, some way, despite massive increases in technological capabilities, human beings in general still lack the basic ability to produce their intent for someone else in a simple way – usually because there’s a general lack of empathy for the party on the other side.

Congressman Garret Graves has had to file a bill just to allow his office to work on behalf of constituents by having them e-sign a document. Before? Had to be done by mail.

It’s 2020, the lack of ability to communicate clear instruction or guidelines across multiple plans of existence (see: the difference between indoor and outdoor based schools) is unacceptable. Americans shouldn’t be paying the tax base to receive the services that they are currently receiving.

Yes, COVID-19 is a fluid situation, changing almost daily.

But, the United States has the capability to produce some of the best, most innovative products in the world – especially with tech.

And yet we cannot have reliable inspections on the ground for COVID business infractions. The CDC cannot provide easily-digestable guidelines for schools to figure out exactly what to do.

And we’re too broke to fix any of it.

McHugh David is publisher of the Livingston Parish News.