Years ago I had a brief gig working security on an overnight basis. The company in question required forty hours of training paid at minimum wage, an upgrade from the unpaid scam they had attempted to run earlier. Perhaps the most memorable part of the experience was the absolutely dogmatic obsession of instructors with telling students to escalate if things got complicated. Not simply for emergency situations, but also minor interactions with non-security employees in the vicinity. Failing to comply meant serious repercussions, which in the security business includes termination or transfer to another spot.
While a dead-end job may not appear to reflect much about the social state, this concept of escalation outlines broader problems in modern culture. The simplest way to explain it would be using the “CYA” moniker, itself a cynical display of the prevailing issue. People in Western realms are expected to always find someone else who will take responsibility in order to protect their own plot. In other words, don’t make a decision, refuse all ownership, and let the “chain of command” find a solution. If you happen to be in the uniformed services, the latter idea is especially crucial. Neglecting to ask permission before making a minor decision as an enlisted feller during peacetime can easily lead to NJP territory, if not something worse.
As matters “escalate,” the process creates spheres of feckless actors more than willing to support what is in their interests – while evading all accountability for the outcome. We see this manifested brilliantly in calls for “universal” healthcare. Republicans advocate “free market” healthcare, pretending it will attain the same outcomes as government-run alternatives. Democrats shill instead for the state-run option, whilst dodging questions about who will pay. In the case of Vermont, the lovingly-labeled “Green Mountain Care” program folded once questions of tax funding came to the fore, leaving moralized arguments behind.
The obvious next step for the Plural Left (and conservatives on other issues), is to appeal for federal promulgation of what the state or municipality has failed to achieve. Why? Because the federal government is a faraway money monolith which can make decisions with impunity, print extra dollars as needed, and enforce laws by the barrel of a gun. Localites and Staties are thus able to wash their hands and plead powerlessness by softly proclaiming, “It’s beyond my control.”
Therein rests the price of CYA and escalation culture: the launching of accountability so high and out of reach to where no one must face the trumpets, or shell out money for what they so tenaciously demand. Obviously such a system requires excessive bureaucracy, and the steadily-encroaching tendrils of top-down power into the lives of everyday souls. You may not wish to take ownership, so instead they will simply take ownership of you.