G-I-G-O: Garbage In, Garbage Out

There is no more dangerous menace to civilization than a government of incompetent, corrupt, or vile men.

– Ludwig von Mises, Austrian economist

Language being the dress of thought, GIGO was welcomed as a byword into our cultural lexicon. It’s an effective reminder to habitual complainers who conveniently forget that as you sow, so shall you reap.

George Fuechsel, an early IBM programmer and instructor, is generally given credit for coining the term “garbage in, garbage out” as a concise way of reminding his students that a computer just processes what it is given.

The Gospels at Luke 6:45 says, “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart . . .”

In an interview on C-SPAN a few years ago, Justice Antonin Scalia of the US Supreme Court said: “But in this job, it’s garbage in, garbage out. If it’s a foolish law, you are bound by oath to produce a foolish result, because it’s not your job to decide what is foolish and what isn’t. It’s the job of the people across the street.”

Justice Scalia was of course referring to the Capitol where Congress is housed across the street from the US Supreme Court. Foolish laws by foolish legislators compels judges to apply the foolishness to the facts at hand. If absurdity visits, the judge can always refer the legislation back to the legislature.

George Carlin, the American comedian and critic reminded us that we select and elect people for Congress who are nothing but the best of the worst people that can be chosen for the grand scheme of politics. The deliberately mal-engineered educational system creates unprepared, wholly semi-conscious, but conditioned pseudo-leaders.

The American poet James Russell Lowell lamented:  “What fills me with doubt and dismay is the degradation of the moral tone. Is it or is it not a result of democracy? Is ours a government of the people by the people for the people, or a kakistocracy rather, for the benefit of knaves at the cost of fools?”

So, how does a voting public avoid GIGO if the best of the worst won’t be good enough. Abstention and refusal are the two options for those who believe their votes will never count. According to observers, 44 percent of Americans did not vote in the 2020 elections that put Joe Biden in the White House.

“If you don’t vote, you are effectively casting a vote for the opponent you least agree with,” say experts. Eligible voters who refuse the polls allow another minority to choose a small minority of “leaders”, and you are again beset with GIGO for a period of time until the next elections.

The voting entrenched systems sustain GIGO. The American economist Thomas Sowell summarised: “The fact that so many successful politicians are such shameless liars is not only a reflection on them, it’s also a reflection on us. When people want the impossible, only liars can satisfy.”

GIGO is here to stay. America blames its universities where leftist liberalism is inculcated to those who aspire for careers with power and influence so that the status quo is not disturbed, diminished or dismantled. This pandemic has been with mankind for thousands of years since the “nation-state” was conceptualised.

Human nature, with ample supply of GIGO genes, is designed to shun peace, look for trouble, opt for pain and agony in order to keep another minority in commerce to offer cures for a price if religion can’t step up to the plate. If all else fails, blame the Cosmic Engineer.

GIGO, as a moral compass, was eruditely explained by Hannah Arendt, an American political theorist: “The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the dedicated communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false, no longer exists.”

There are also those well-quoted intellectuals who swear to the fact that peace is not as lucrative as war. War creates profits while peace creates poets, philosophers and prophets. In the real world, GIGO is a necessary evil.

Ultimately, GIGO is a peoples’ political barometer with erratic and unpredictable readings. It’s up to us, the people, to painstakingly calibrate the instrument to yield a class of governance that determines the government it wants.

GIGO is the ultimate excuse for a people ready to guillotine their lackadaisical attitudes, and crave for meritocracy.

The views expressed are those of the columnist and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the New Sarawak Tribune.