Politics Uber Alles!

Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy states:

     First, there will be those who are devoted to the goals of the organization. Examples are dedicated classroom teachers in an educational bureaucracy, many of the engineers and launch technicians and scientists at NASA, even some agricultural scientists and advisors in the former Soviet Union collective farming administration.

     Secondly, there will be those dedicated to the organization itself. Examples are many of the administrators in the education system, many professors of education, many teachers union officials, much of the NASA headquarters staff, etc.

     The Iron Law states that in every case the second group will gain and keep control of the organization. It will write the rules, and control promotions within the organization.

     This is a special case of the dynamic of power, which governs all organizations willy-nilly. It dovetails with a homely observation virtually everyone makes at some point in his life:

Expecting a man to work against his personal interests is really BLEEP!ing stupid.

     …which isn’t to say that that never happens, just that it’s not the way to bet.

     Much that “doesn’t make sense” to the naïve observer of governments makes perfect sense when viewed in the light of these observations.


     Let it be said at once that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) was once an organization with a praiseworthy mission which it pursued and fulfilled more often than not. But being a government bureaucracy, it was as subject to the laws above as any other. Power and perpetuation became its ruling aims some years ago. Today its nominal purpose no longer seems to matter:

     The Centers For Disease Control (CDC) deleted a reference to a study it commissioned after a group of gun-control advocates complained it made passing new restrictions more difficult.

     The lobbying campaign spanned months and culminated with a private meeting between CDC officials and three advocates last summer, a collection of emails obtained by The Reload show. Introductions from the White House and Senator Dick Durbin’s (D., Ill.) office helped the advocates reach top officials at the agency after their initial attempt to reach out went unanswered. The advocates focused their complaints on the CDC’s description of its review of studies that estimated defensive gun uses (DGU) happen between 60,000 and 2.5 million times per year in the United States–attacking criminologist Gary Kleck’s work establishing the top end of the range.

     “[T]hat 2.5 Million number needs to be killed, buried, dug up, killed again and buried again,” Mark Bryant, one of the attendees, wrote to CDC officials after their meeting. “It is highly misleading, is used out of context and I honestly believe it has zero value – even as an outlier point in honest DGU discussions.”

     Bryant, who runs the Gun Violence Archive (GVA), argued Kleck’s estimate has been damaging to the political prospects of passing new gun restrictions and should be eliminated from the CDC’s website.

     I’m unfamiliar with Gary Kleck’s study. However, other criminologists put the average number of defensive gun uses around a million per year. That figure is consistent over several studies, and is also consistent with violent-crime and property-crime trends in states that loosen their restrictions on the private ownership of firearms. I’m willing to believe it until it’s been disproved.

     However, a defensive gun use that doesn’t result in a verified shooting is a tough thing to qualify. The circumstances aren’t always definitively known. The person(s) deterred aren’t always courteous enough to hang around until the police arrive to take statements. And the key figure in such an incident might have reasons to describe his conduct in self-protective ways. So such studies and estimates are properly tempered with appropriate caution and recognition of limitations.

     That doesn’t seem to apply to Mark Bryant, nor to the CDC. Their overt principle is that guns in the hands of private citizens are a bad thing, and whatever facilitates getting rid of them would therefore be good. Their deeper principle is that anything that conduces to the strengthening of their respective organizations is good…and depriving Americans of a Constitutionally protected right is one such thing.

     I suppose that’s not news to firearms enthusiasts and persons ardent about the right to keep and bear arms. But the operation of the organizations involved in this instance is striking nevertheless.


     People can get awfully weird about weapons and laws that pertain to them, so let’s move to another subject before the fidgeting gets really pronounced: the COVID-19 vaccines introduced in late 2020.

     The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the CDC were previously supremely cautious about approving new medical treatments. That caution was at its maximum when the subject is a potential new drug. The approval process for a new drug typically took about ten years and featured all manner of studies, tests, and safeguards. The nominal object was to ensure that any drug released for general use would do no harm, or as little harm as possible consistent with the purpose of the drug. Stated thus, most Americans would agree that great caution is commendable, even if the length of the approval process strikes them as absurd.

     The development of the COVID-19 vaccines was ultra-rapid. The technology on which they were based was experimental, never before employed in a drug to be administered to humans. The approval process was barely there; few tests of efficacy or safety were performed, and the results of those tests were suppressed in favor of a rapid adoption of the vaccines. The persons and companies most visible in this matter affected an air of total confidence that the vaccines would work beautifully.

     So successful was the promotion of terror over the COVID-19 virus that the great majority of Americans accepted the claims…and accepted the vaccines into their bodies. At this time the fraction runs around 70%. I hardly need dwell on the consequences. Let it suffice to say that the benefits of the vaccines were wildly overstated, while their downsides have proved to be devastating to many thousands.

     How did this result emerge from such legendarily cautious institutions and their procedures? Pournelle’s Iron Law, of course: amplified to the maximum by pressure from the highest levels of the federal government. The FDA and CDC complied as if the alternative were unthinkable. As the alternative probably involved firings, demotions, and (ulp) budget cuts, their alacrity in signing on to these experimental, barely tested vaccines was understandable.

     But not excusable.

     For those who paid sufficient attention, the warning signs were many and hard to overlook. But terror overrode appropriate caution in too many cases. Others placidly accepted the assurances of governments. Still others were cowed by proclamations from state and local governments about policies that, for those who declined to be vaccinated, would become de facto lifelong house arrest.

     And now thousands of otherwise healthy Americans, including newborn babies and prominent athletes, are succumbing to massive blood clots, autoimmune diseases, and “sudden adult death syndrome,” a malady previously unnamed and unknown. Sensible people would never have accepted any of this before the COVID-19 vaccines. There would have been torches, pitchforks, and mass lynchings.


     It’s a sad tale, to be sure, but it’s one whose moral must not be overlooked. No matter how painful the consequences of our choices may be, the path of responsibility compels us to accept them and what they tell us – and to accept that imposing them on others who have diverged is flatly wrong.

Put not your trust in princes.

     Or in their “organizations.” Or in their pronouncements about “necessity” or “the public good.” And never, ever look to a government for a “solution” to a problem for which governments are responsible.

     The COVID-19 virus was the product of a government-run bioengineering effort, conducted in a government-controlled laboratory, and funded from the coffers of governments…including our own. From its earliest origins to its most recent outcroppings, it was and is a tool of the State, designed to serve the State’s purposes. That more than one State was involved in no way weakens the conclusion. Verbum sat sapienti.


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  1. The last sentence of your introduction

    Much that “doesn’t make sense” to the naïve observer of governments makes perfect sense when viewed in the light of these observations.

    and the last sentence of your next to last paragraph

    never, ever look to a government for a “solution” to a problem for which governments are responsible.

    are neatly tied together by Robert Higgs’ essay, The Myth of Failed Policies, I too often have cause to recall. (Most recently in comments here in June and October.)

    Professor Higgs’ title is almost explanation enough (but never enough for those who insist on remaining naïve.) Providing many examples, he drives home the point that an institution can only continue to exist as long as the problem for which it was created never vanishes. So for those who run it, failure to solve the problem means success for them. Failed polices are a myth because the policies are designed to keep and even expand the problem: “a problem for which governments are responsible.”

    What is power for? Finally fixing any problem for which the bureaucracies were created would put its administrators out on the street. Whenever we’re told the ends justify the means, it never fails to be about the ends being about attaining and keeping the means. (It is why on principle I always decry those who invoke the Precautionary Principle. With its most recent disastrous uses (for the public) being covid and climate change, what more examples must anyone provide you?)

    The awful truth, at this time, is it matters not if the naïfs are few in number, for the institutionists are determined to keep their racket going even after they die. They believe in their warped moral code* and ideology guides them. With just about all institutions corrupted or staffed by the ignorant, the legendary American checks and balances have failed.

    Consequently what several generations of Americans have permitted to develop — “the deep state” — attests to the power of controlling the narrative over a long time. Do not be embarrassed to use the term because it’s tarnished by its link to youknowwho. The deep state has enormous meaning far beyond being dismissed as only a campaign slogan. It has so much power now that Stalin’s words need repeating often just so we don’t forget: “It’s not who votes that counts, but who counts the votes.”

    In America what remains is only the largest institution. If only its faith and courage could come close to matching its size. We are told there will be one to do it all. That one must possess a depth of faith demonstrated by no man yet today. But what must the Largest Institution do to encourage him? Faith and courage and humility and gratitude come readily to mind. I am working on it.

    *Their moral code is not mine nor that of any decent individual.
    With so many death cult members having torn off their masks, what more do their intended victims need to know?

  2. Another great one, Francis.  You come off as more and more Voluntaryist all the time.  🙂

    • Glenn Harrington on December 18, 2022 at 10:19 PM

    Among my peers, we have an expression: “Get the Shot, get the Clot, get the Plot.” The plot, meaning, a plot where you are six feet under.

    My sister, 68 at the time, got the shot and next day keeled over while in line at the pharmacy to fill a prescription. She is now in a memory car facility, does not know who I am, or even who she is.

    My airline pilot (FAA Part 125 operations) relative noticed a number of his fellow pilots have got the Plot. These are people, mostly men, in tip-top physical condition with periodic mandated physicals to retain their medical certification to be able to be an airline pilot. They were mandated to get the shot to keep their certification. My relative noticed a number of fellow pilots he knew had suddenly died with no apparent cause. He then looked at the annual list of deaths recorded for pilots and where a normal year had a few hundred deaths, the list was now in the thousands. Airlines now have a staffing issue to fill seats on the flight deck.

    1. Beginning in early 2021, whenever the shot is mentioned in any FB post, FB posts a false flag on behalf of big pharma. You can see it featured in the following rebuttal that first appeared in June 2021.
      The Vax was developed too quickly to know long term effects
      Nevertheless, FB (possibly by a former FBI agent) continues to this day to post that lying flag.

      How long will Americans tolerate this deadly lie?

    • J F Ponder on December 19, 2022 at 8:29 PM

    Kudos Fran, for keeping the always relevant genius of Jerry Pournelle in front of us.

    Yeah, 11 years in the Army and 24 more as a cybercrime investigator for some 3-letter shops led me to the almost daily recitation of the hard truth that Dr Jerry launched at us.  In his books, his fabulous blog (Chaos Manor) and the often hilarious reviews and commentaries in Byte Magazine, there was truth, bludgeoning and humor.  While riding the decline into spinning vortex in the cesspool, more understanding as to how we got here is always appreciated.  Thanks Fran!


    • NITAZKHON on December 20, 2022 at 10:04 AM

    Kleck is (was?  not sure if he’s still alive) a very nice guy.  I wrote to him many years ago as a part of my research that drove my switch from the gun control side to the second amendment side.  We had a very occasional correspondence.

    If you can find it, I highly recommend the book ARMED that he co-wrote with Don Kates (RIP) who, also, was quite responsive when I wrote him.  IIRC it’s out of print but there should be copies still floating around.

    One of the things that struck me about Kleck was how carefully and in a measured tone he responded to critics – and, when it was warranted, acknowledged criticisms.

    Lott, too, is another very responsive person.  When his study first came out about CCW I wrote him and, to this day, he will reply to my emails.

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