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New Michael Lewis piece on USDA


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Really good article, even better than his recent Dept of Energy piece. Some quotes I liked:

 

“There’s a real idealism that you have to indulge to think that people in New Orleans were now going to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. There were no bootstraps.”

 

"We don’t really celebrate the accomplishments of government employees. They exist in our society to take the blame. But if anyone ever paid attention they would note that Woteki’s department, among other achievements, had suppressed the potentially catastrophic 2015 outbreak of bird flu. They’d created, very quickly, a fast new test for the disease that enabled them to cull the sick chickens from the healthy ones. Because of their work the poultry industry was forced to kill only tens of millions of birds, instead of hundreds of millions. In the early 1990s, the U.S.D.A. had also dealt with the outbreak of ring-spot virus in papaya trees, when the papaya industry in Hawaii faced ruin and extinction. Inside the little box marked “Science,” the U.S.D.A. helped genetically engineer a papaya tree that was resistant to ring-spot virus."

 

The whole section on the Rural Development division was fascinating (who knew they had a bank with $220B in assets sitting there?):

 

“I am absolutely convinced about one thing: there are conversations going on right now in New York and Washington between people in the Trump administration and Wall Street bankers about how to get their hands on the bank portfolio. Folks in banking: I’m sure they are nice people—they just can’t help themselves.”

 

Would love to hear the thoughts of fellow board members.

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I really like Mike Lewis' storytelling ability but when he turns it to political ends to justify beaurocracy with no data on cost benefit & makes broad generalizations & assumptions with a clear bias then he IMO has become a political hack.  His dislike of Trump has turned into hatred filled with malice, pride & an attitude of some beurocrat knows best & the assumption the Trump is wrong all the time.  Every administration has its strengths & weaknesses & only showing one side IMO is a result of Lewis' Trump Derangement Syndrome.  This may be more of a commentary of how storytellers like him far from bringing us together use there talents to tear us apart.  Very sad.

 

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Mixed feelings.

Experiences with agencies are uneven.

Sometimes, as Mr. Lewis describes, you get the impression that the person on the opposite end cares.

But (anecdotal), that is not always the case (far from it).

 

Reading the article leaves me under the impression that these large entities are somewhat self-sustaining which may be a larger problem.

 

There are many ways to "restructuring".

 

Reminded me also of another kind of attempt: The Common Sense Revolution in Ontario from a few years back. The jury is still out on this one.

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