Mailbag: Political hacks fumbling crisis

Mailbag: Political hacks fumbling crisis

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Back in 2016, we gave the keys to the White House to an unqualified, incompetent narcissist. In addition, we also gave him an official government document entitled "Policy and Supporting Positions," commonly known as the "Plum Book." This document lists about 9,000 federal civil service leadership positions that he could fill by "noncompetitive appointment," meaning their technical and scientific expertise is unimportant and political expediency is the major criterion. The Plum Book explicitly states that "the duties of such positions may involve advocacy of Administration policies and programs and the incumbents usually have a close and confidential working relationship with key officials."

Fast-forward to the coronavirus disaster. The Department of Health and Human Services, which includes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has a total of 79,540 employees, most of whom have scientific and technical backgrounds. Why didn't they see this tragedy coming and move quickly to deal with it? The answer is quite clear. The Plum Book allows the top 579 leadership positions within these agencies to be filled by political hacks with no science backgrounds. Thus, although South Korea currently tests 20,000 people per day for the coronavirus, we, as of March 13, have tested a grand total of only 13,953 people.

It appears our efforts to make America great have resulted instead in making America worse. Don't blame the career professionals — blame the political hacks.

Ron Sadler

Albany

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