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