“Never Let a Serious Crisis go to Waste…”


“Never Let a Serious Crisis go to Waste…”

Over on the IPMI Forum, Casey Jones is holding forth on the famous phrase “Never let a serious crisis go to waste…:’’ It is traditionally attributed to Former Chicago Mayor and Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. He was lambasted after he made the statement and clarified it by adding the phrase “And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”

Casey dutifully included the complete quote and then went on to comment how the current crisis has put many in the position of instituting policies or new procedures that probably would not have been considered outside the pandemic, and that many will find their way into permanent practice. Fair Enough.

But that’s not the reason for this blog. It turns out that Rahm was not the first person to use that phrase, but it was originally voiced by, you guessed it, Winston Churchill. He was discussing the formation of the United Nations and the fact, as he saw it, that it never would have happened without World War II, certainly as serious a crisis as one can name. Rahm was lobbying for gun control after the horrific shooting of Arizona Representative Gabby Griffiths in 2011.

My concern is that we see a crisis, and then jump to create solutions with little or no thought to the long term ramifications of those solutions. Sometimes the solutions are for parts of the crisis that may not even exist. Emotion kicks in, and clarity of thought goes by the wayside.

I think ‘defund’ might be such a case. We have a terrible killing, and want to do something. The knee jerk reaction is get rid of the problem by getting rid of the police. The result we see is unabated rioting across the country and the police being prevented from doing anything about it. We see the baby being tossed with the bathwater.

Cooler heads seem to be prevailing, but we have lost a lot of good police through retirement, and it will take years to rebuild the confidence we have in that ‘thin blue line.’ Policing is a huge process in a country of 320,000,000 people and mistakes will be made. We are human for goodness sake. And yes, we need to make changes so our police can do a better and more effective job.

But rather than use that serious crisis to its fullest extent, perhaps a tweak here and an adjustment there might do just as well. We are seeing the result of a major change in cities like Portland, Seattle, New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Politicians want to do things on a grand scale. Its their nature. No one ever put up a statue for a tweak or an adjustment.


Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

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