giovedì, marzo 25, 2010

A stupid person is a person who causes losses to another person or to a group of persons while deriving no gain and even possibly incurring losses

So let's say you're the cardinals of the Catholic Church and you have a bunch of high-profile sex scandals in which several priests are revealed to be kiddie-fiddlers who you haven't adequately dissuaded or prevented from kiddie-fiddling. This makes a bunch of people hate you. Then your pope dies and you decide it's time to pick a new one. So then you pick the cardinal who oversaw - at best, at unrealistic best, at a best I'm only willing to admit might possibly exist because I understand there are no limits to human stupidity - the utter, jaw-dropping inadequacy of the reponse to hundreds of priests around the world being kiddie-fiddlers.

What does that make you? It makes that fucking stupid, that's what it makes you.

There are a lot of things that suggest that Catholicism is now, as it always has been, a sort of body corporate or a simple vehicle for the propogation and retention of wealth. You cannot have any familiarity with the history of the church without that being bleedingly obvious. Rather magically, the church has managed to create the illusion that is all a thing of the past, that people who rant and rave about church property and tax breaks and blah blah blah are a bunch of paranoiac nutters like that poor crazy fuck who flew his plane into the IRS building just recently.

But to me, counterintuitively but there you are, the bloody awful decision to put a charmless, cadaverous pitbull who oversaw decades of criminal, damnable institutional incompetence into the Popemobile is a superb demonstration of corporate behaviour, the sort of thing I see at work every day, the sort of thing that makes Carlo Cipolla's analysis of stupidity look less tongue-in-cheek and more simple observation.

Here's the thing. If you put a bunch of people together and employ them to promote the financial well-being of an institution which is not owned by any one person - and you would have to be as naive as a toddler to imagine that promoting the continued existence of a stagnating old leviathan like the Catholic church is in any way independent of promoting its financial well-being - you are grouping, and thus exponentially multiplying their stupidity.

In fact you are giving full rein to their stupidity, because their employment - ensuring the financial well-being of an institution - is an abstract concept involving principles that economists spend years trying and usually failing to learn in academic institutions. Hence they can be relied upon to do retarded things whose single obvious benefit, if they were intelligent, should not have outweighed multiple and equally obvious detriments - like outsourcing core business (which I don't object to in principle, but in reality usually means sacking competent, experienced people and hiring incompetent, inexperienced people whose contracts ensure they won't trouble themselves much to learn competence because it's not in their interest) or electing fucking Ratzinger to be pope because they think they need a tough guy to face down the competition (and maybe all the kids who had got fiddled by priests under his watch are either dead or had already come out about it, right?)

And surely the rest of your life will retain the full benefit of such intelligence as you possess - for the CEOs I deal with on a daily basis, ensuring the prosperity of themselves and their family; for a good priest, his and his parishioners relationship with the divine; for a bad priest, his access to kiddies to fiddle. And compounding the problem, benefits to the rest of your life from your employment supposedly ensuring the financial well-being of an institution (you personally accruing the maximum wealth possible, you personally having the time and the mental space to devote to your flock and the divine and trying not to get caught fucking children) are actually also demeritous to the goal of ensuring the financial well-being of the institution.

I still hate The Corporation for all those reasons I wrote about years ago, and another now. That film, from memory, presented corporations as scary, as a psychotic juggernaut that will destroy us all. One descriptor there is fatally wrong: they aren't psychotic, they are stupid. Massively stupid. They are juggernauts of pooled stupidity that will destroy us all if we fail to address the stupid. And the Catholic church is no exception.

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