Tuesday, June 20, 2023

The incompetent society: lessons from South Africa


Recently I put up a couple of articles about the decline in competence in our society:

"What happens when the competent opt out?"

More on the collapse of competence in the USA

My birth country, South Africa, is today a living example of what happens when the incompetent (and corrupt, and nepotistic, and greedy) take over what was once a thriving economy.  The BBC has published a couple of interesting (not to mention horrifying) articles about what's happening there.

South Africa load-shedding: The roots of Eskom's power problem

South Africa is heading into the southern hemisphere winter with the prospect of the country's worst-ever power cuts - up to 16 hours a day. The roots of the problem lie in poor management, corruption and sabotage.

South African taps run dry after power shortages

South Africa's recent electricity woes - with regular lengthy scheduled blackouts - have had a knock-on effect on the supply of water.

"All of our stations, they need electricity, they need power. You have to pump water everywhere where it is needed," says Sipho Mosai, the head of state-owned Rand Water, one of the country's main water providers.

"Electricity is really at the heartbeat of what we do and if we don't have it externally, at least for now, it becomes a problem."

America is no stranger to utter incompetence wreaking havoc on support systems and structures.  Just look at Jackson, MS, where the water system has been in trouble for decades, and never been fixed.  The city administration is now demanding that the state fork over up to a billion dollars to fix the problem - but they want to decide who gets to spend it, and how.  Mississippi's Governor has claimed that the mayor and his administration are solely responsible for the crisis.  Based on what I'm hearing from friends living in the area, that sounds pretty accurate.

Baltimore's woes are also well-known.  The city government has demonstrated utter incompetence in dealing with crime, schooling, urban decay and a host of other issues.  Any attempt to pin the blame where it belongs is greeted with cries of "Racism!" and "Discrimination!"

I'm sure readers can name other cities where that's happened, and is still happening.  South Africa is an object lesson in what happens when that sort of incompetence spreads to all levels of government.  It's a very uncomfortable thought that we may soon experience that for ourselves.  It should be unnecessary to emphasize that this isn't about the race of those involved, but their competence - but sadly, that will be necessary, because the tired old shibboleth of racism will be raised against anyone who attempts to speak the truth.



Nate Winchester said...

I saw serpantza had a video on it as well. Such pointless tragedy.

Wolff said...

It's funny you should mention Baltimore City. Until my retirement in 2013 I was the customer rep. for the electric and gas utility who interfaced with all departments of the city government. I could tell you horror stories and that was ten years ago. Things have not improved during the meantime.

RHT447 said...

ERCOT, much?

Beans said...

So to look at California in the future we should look at South Africa.

Then there's Gainesville, FL. Where the city-owned utility was basically raped to fund the general government operations. To the tune of the utility being $1.9 billion in debt. The state finally swooped in and is taking over the governing of the utility.

What caused the highest rated public utility in the US to go broke? Well, the city commission saw it as an unending well of money, and the same city commission forced the utility to build a bio-mass powerplant. A plant that is more expensive to run than it will ever generate in profit.

Then again, it was Gainesville, FL that took forever to rename the central bus plaza from Corinne Brown (a highly corrupt democrat politician that had nothing to do with Gainesville, FL and got sent to Fed Slammer for financial fraud) to something else (of course, Rosa Parks, duh, it's Gainesville....)

a_probst said...

It reminds me of a line in a Heinlein novel, "Then I worked for a public futility."

lynn said...

No potable water and no power, sounds like our future here in the USA.

Blue said...

South Africa problems are coming to Australia, and soon. Particularly if this constitutional change gets up.
Various states are already charging down that path. Western Australia passed an act taking effect on July 1st that essentially requires Aboriginal permission to do anything on land bigger than a suburban block.
Let the (legal!) grifting begin!

Celia Hayes said...

ERCOT, indeed. Those of us who went for a week during a once-in-a century deep freeze and real snow in South Texas, were absolutely infuriated at the rank incompetency of San Antonio's CPS in that emergency. Everybody knew that a huge storm was on the way to us, a week out ... and yet the members of ERCOT sat around congratulating each other at their last meeting before that storm.
I will not long forget having to go to bed at sundown with the power out, melting snow and saving water from the gutter downspouts in buckets to flush the toilets, and cooking meals on a portable propane grill set on the front porch, in order that we could have a hot meal.

lamont cranston said...

Grew up in Jackson - gret place before 1970. Integration has reduced its white pop. from 70% to 14%, white flight to neighboring cities that had <1,000 residents back then.

Anonymous said...

Of course it's about Race in these cases. Mean/SD of racial IQ distribution governs size of 'Smart Fraction' able to run a complex society and handle contingencies and foresee the results next year of today's actions, time preference, etc.

The first person who says 'Thomas Sowell' (one swallow does not... ) will have me reaching for my Browning as the saying goes.

If this wasn't he case, they wouldn't have had to make Wakanda for our edification.

There are also class/cultural issues. For example the White/(((Greetings, Fellow X)))/Mystery Meat managerialist elites (sic) of the present West are becoming a very distinct caste where attention mundane details in the physical world will get one expelled from said caste... so it's an in-group signalling status marker to demonstrate incompetence in the mere details of infrastructure management and planning. Separate pathology, but probably will kill us all faster than the Blacks ever could.

TL;DR: Everything Old is New Again. Race and Class never went away and now they're back and bigger than Ben Hur.

Skyler the Weird said...

I too grew up in Jackson. I remember it being a nice place growing up in the 60s and 70's. Went home in 2016 and it was unrecognizable. Jackson after the end of Jim Crow is about the same as South Africa after Apartheid. Everything is based on race and connections and not merit.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this preview, are you seeing any glimmers of light anywhere?

Maniac said...

South Africa is certainly having problems. But not to worry, China is coming to help.

A few years from now, Africa will be begging us to intercede.

LL said...

Low IQ, greedy, inner city management. There is no surprise there.

Nuke Road Warrior said...

What happens when the competent opt out? "Atlas Shrugged" was supposed to be a warning not a how to manual.

A Pinochet said...

Ah, they joys of 'duh-versity.' It's a shame that the US and other countries did not stay out of South Africa's affairs and let the race thing work itself out at some point. Now more people are going to die because of another social engineering scheme that could never work.

Maybe race, IQ, and culture do matter?