Friday, April 21, 2006

Conspiracy Theories

Not so long ago, I was sitting outside the coffice, eavesdropping on a man at a nearby table. He was going into an elaborate laundry list of conspiracies he was quite sure had been executed before, during, and after Katrina by a broad range of entities: municipal, state, federal, and otherwise. I have this to say:

I have spent my share of time working for or in some capacity dealing with various government agencies, folks who generally fall under the label, "the powers that be." Certainly, the government and other large organizations do a lot of bad things. And sometimes these bad things are the consequences of sinister, malicious, premeditated, covert planning - conspiracies. But, in my humble opinion, in most cases, these people simply aren't smart enough to have devised, much less successfully executed many of the conspiracies attributed to them. More frequently ignorance, incompetence, mismanagement, lack of empathy, and systemic failures are the guilty culprits.*

That is all.

* No, this post is not part of some secret counter-smear campaign funded by an illegal grant from Karl Rove. What evidence do you have for that assertion? Utterly baseless. But maybe you should be a little more careful, you know. Bad things can happen to people who aren't careful. Hmm? Accidents. Terrible, terrible accidents....

Ask and ye shall receive.


  1. You are so right about "conspiracies." Only in the movies. Most of the time, anyway.

  2. Obvious disinformation. Fnord.

    (Actually, your analysis is pretty much the same as my Sarah's, and she usually wins the arguments around here.)

    P.S. I'm sure I've had "sqivax" for word verification before. CONSPIRACY!

  3. "in most cases, these people simply aren't smart enough to have devised, much less successfully executed many of the conspiracies attributed to them"

    amen - I feel your pain

  4. My brother-in-law is a career diplomat in the US Foreign Service, preferring to stick to the less-cushy third world posts. The family always sent tapes of current TV shows for them to watch so they could keep up while stationed overseas, and "The X Files" was always their favorite comedy show.

    Apparently the embassy staff is reduced giggles by the idea that a giant conspiracy is being perpetrated by the "steely resolve and ruthless efficiency" of the Federal government. Especially when the post's shipment of toilet paper has yet to arrive and it's getting near the end of the month.

  5. One of the nastier conspiracy theories kicking around after the storm was that the levees had been deliberately breached in an attempt at ethnic cleansing. Our local columnist and Pulitzer nominee, Chris Rose, had the perfect response. If it was an attempt at ethnic cleansing it had been so badly bungled (inadvertently flooding large predominantly white areas) that it clearly must be the work of FEMA.

  6. Proof enough for me...

  7. Indulge a public school teacher a moment, please. I agree wholeheartedly and wholemindedly that most--nearly all, I might even grant you, on a bad day--of those under the rubric Powers That Be are too dull to plan and excute any conspiracies.
    I do suspect, however, that a select few, up on top of the heap, know this about the nature of bureaucracies and bureaucrats, and they use this to their advantage, and to the ruin of most of us. There are certain conspiracies that only need stupidity's assistance to succeed. This probably does not apply to New Orleans and the results of Katrina (except for the stupidity part), but I see enough of it in my job to make me seriously think that there is, in fact, a conspiracy to kill off public education in this country by making it so awful that we all start clamoring for it to be dismantled.
    It would only take a few people with dedication to the project and the wherewithal to enlist the help of bureau-dullards for this to work.