It might not be obvious at times, reading this blog, but I do in fact run a laboratory full of brilliant scientists working on things microbiological. I mostly try to keep politics out of the workplace, but of course in the era of Wokeness it’s increasingly difficult, as to the wannabe totalitarians bit by bit overwhelming our institutions, there can be no aspect of life outside of politics and the reach of the state.
Sometimes political crap hits the lab – or hits it by proxy, by hitting me and thereby threatening the lab’s funding. Sometimes I wonder if the commies who try to get me fired realize that they would be taking the jobs of a dozen or so young people, representing roughly every race and creed and gender on Earth, at the same time? (I suspect they do, and don’t care, any more than Brandon cares how many kids he blows up when he tries to cap a terrorist as a PR stunt.) But sometimes everyday lab life just reminds me of the broader rot taking over society.
There’s this great concept, originally coined by the late Sam Francis, called anarcho-tyranny. Here’s a definition from a 1993 Chronicles column:
the combination of oppressive government power against the innocent and the law-abiding and, simultaneously, a grotesque paralysis of the ability or the will to use that power to carry out basic public duties such as protection or public safety.
The term has come into prominence in recent months, even showing up a few times on Tucker Carlson’s various programs, as it really does capture some of the worst aspects of our current existence. A great example: the government uses every coercive tool it can muster to trick, cajole, force, or threaten law-abiding citizens into complying with COVID vaccination protocols, but completely ignores the health conditions of millions of illegal aliens pouring into the country across the Mexican Border. Or, the government drops the hammer on Kyle Rittenhouse for using a firearm to protect himself, but can’t be bothered to notice that street crime with guns has absolutely exploded since the regime’s stormtroopers declared war against local police in Summer 2020. Or how about how you have to stress about every nickel you made on Bitcoin while filing your taxes, but Jeff Bezos can launder fifty gajillion dollars through fake NGOs, or Hunter Biden can take bribes in the form of art sales, without the IRS ever lifting a finger? I could go on.
I was just reminded of anarcho-tyranny this week because of a handful of little annoyances in the lab. Granted, these are a microcosm of the horrors that I just described, but they do really grind my gears. Two things in particular really stand out as affecting a mid-range lab boss like myself – immigration and safety regulation – both of which are reflections of larger problems faced by people in “the real world”.
First, immigration. I cannot express how irritating it is to me that I have to fill out tons of paperwork, pay money (basically bribes) to the State Department, and then pray that somebody at State will get off their ass and file the proper forms so I can get visas for foreign trainees who want to work in my lab. I just had to send $3500 from one government agency to another government agency to fast-track a visa for a brilliant Chinese scientist who is already in my lab to keep him from having to go back to China before finishing the project that I hired him to do and for which we still have funding. In another debacle, because of onerous COVID travel restrictions I wasn’t able to get a Brazilian graduate student into the country for over a year, during which time we were basically treading water on his PhD work and putting our research on hold until the world stopped being insane. This sort of thing has popped up over and over since I started as a PI; it eats a lot of time, a lot of money, and causes a lot of headaches and hardship for a lot of people.
But hey, look, while I’m eating paperwork to convince the government to let young geniuses temporarily come to the United States to study with me, literally millions of unvetted, unskilled people just walk across the border from Mexico. MILLIONS of people. Presumably those people will flood the unskilled labor markets, driving down wages and eliminating positions needed by poor or just-starting-out Americans. And they won’t leave, either, so the problems they cause are permanent with essentially no solution that any decent person wants to think too deeply about. So the government puts huge amounts of energy into hassling a few thousand 140-IQ science trainees who come for 3-5 years and then go home, but can’t be bothered to lift a finger to prevent millions of 80-IQ scabs from coming in and never leaving. Training the worlds’ scientists is a great idea – not only do we get to benefit from their minds for the years they are here, but they will go home with pleasant memories of their time in the US, and we all end up having dear friends scattered all over the world, strengthening both science and diplomacy. But letting in the world’s desperate masses? There are billions of them, and they will never stop coming until this patch of dirt is just as miserable as the ones they are coming from. Seems like a bad call to me, but in an anarcho-tyrannical state, it makes perfect sense to put all of the State’s immigration energy into the former, while ignoring the latter.
The other irritation comes from safety regulations. It seems they never stop becoming stricter and more labyrinthine. I developed this great microbiology lab course that was built around making artwork out of bacteria isolated from the dirt, but it got shut down by my university’s safety office because I couldn’t outright guarantee that nobody would isolate anthrax or some other deadly thing out of the soil. Never mind that it’s literally the dirt outside the building, so if there’s anthrax there you’ve got more to worry about than my teaching lab… or that most of my students plan to become medical professionals at some point, where they will definitely be exposed to communicable pathogens a lot worse than anything you can get out if potting soil, and most of them will, amazingly, never take another course in microbiology. But no, the infinitesimal risk is too much for the administrators. On top of that, I even have to fill out lugubrious loads of paperwork to work with similar things in my lab – where only experts have access to them! If I want to exchange strains of bacteria with other researchers, it all has to be documented in the same way if it’s a harmless lab rat E. coli strain as if it’s cholera. It’s worth noting that I don’t have, like, a secretary or anything, so all of this paperwork gets filled out by me personally, making roughly $60 an hour (paid for by your tuition dollars, parents!) to do this drudge work that probably nobody actually looks at.
But while I’m being paid to fill out forms, and others are paid to check my forms and stamp my forms and file my forms, for the privilege of working with harmless pond scum, luminaries like Peter Daszak and Tony Fauci play around with communist virologists editing bat coronavirus genomes with apparently no oversight of any kind, ultimately accidentally (?) unleashing a flu pandemic on mankind that shuts the planet down for two years (and counting) and causes an epidemic of mass formation psychosis to descend across the land like a plague miasma on a medieval graveyard. I’m sure they had their people fill out the proper forms in triplicate just like I do – I bet Tony has two secretaries! – but so what? Obviously the forms didn’t do any good. The regulations don’t prevent harm, they just burden people with compliance – the government puts its foot on the little guy’s neck while completely failing to accomplish the goal it supposedly is trying to achieve. Anarcho-tyranny at its best.
A lot of people have this idea that government regulation protects common people against moneyed interests, but the exact opposite is actually true. Regulations create ponderous burdens for normal people, but are trivially overcome by actors with the financial resources to hire people whose sole purpose is to get around regulations. Regulations protect the powerful at the expense of the weak. Anarcho-tyranny, in other words, is the key mechanism by which an oligarchy maintains its power; the law exists for them, as a tool to dominate you.