Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Limits to Central Planning, Fear

This may appear convoluted and very back-door.  I beg your patience to let me develop a point.

W. Edward Deming

W. Edward Deming is likely the one person most responsible for the modern Quality movement.

His agenda was a 14 point plan.  Point number eight is:
"Drive out fear"
Poor quality is waste.  Poor quality squanders vast amounts of resources.  Poor quality misallocates man-hours, raw materials, tool wear, absorbs resources for intervention and remediation....resources that can never be fully recovered.

A quality control system is really an information flow system.  Deviations from standard are identified, whether in the product or in the process.  Actions are taken based on that information.

Filtering or 'conditioning' the data almost always involves the destruction of some information that is embedded in that data.

Fear results in extreme filtering of data.  Waste, suffering, even death follow.

History is more eloquent than I will ever be.


Lysenkoism (Russian: Лысе́нковщина), or Lysenko-Michurinism was the centralized political control exercised over genetics and agriculture by Trofim Lysenko and his followers. Lysenko was the director of the Soviet Union's Lenin All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences. Lysenkoism began in the late 1920s and formally ended in 1964.
Lysenkoism was built on theories of the heritability of acquired characteristics that Lysenko named "Michurinism".[1] These theories depart from accepted evolutionary theory and Mendelian inheritance.
Lysenkoism is used metaphorically to describe the manipulation or distortion of the scientific process as a way to reach a predetermined conclusion as dictated by an ideological bias, often related to social or political objectives.
Many of Lysenkoism's opponents, such as his former mentor Nikolai Ivanovich Vavilov, were imprisoned or even executed...

Great Chinese Famine

 ...As local officials in the countryside competed to over-report the levels of production that their communes had achieved in response to the new economic organisation, local peasants were left with a vastly decreased surplus in order to meet their quotas, and then no surplus at all. When they eventually failed to produce enough crops even to meet the quotas to feed the cities, peasant farmers were unfairly accused of hoarding, profiteering and other counter-revolutionary activities by Chinese Communist Party officials, who cited the massively inflated production estimates of the local party leaders as evidence.
Local party leaders, for their part, conspired to cover up shortfalls and reassign blame in order to protect their own lives and positions. In one famous example, Mao Zedong was scheduled to tour a local agricultural commune in Shaanxi province during the heart of the famine in order to assess the conditions for himself; in preparation for his visit, local party officials ordered hundreds of starving peasants to carefully uproot and transplant hundreds of thousands of grain stalks by hand from nearby farms into one "model field", which was then shown to Mao as proof that the crops had not failed. In a similar manner to the massive Soviet-created famine in Ukraine (the Holodomor), doctors were prohibited from listing "starvation" as a cause of death on death certificates. This kind of deception was far from uncommon; a famous propaganda picture from the famine shows Chinese children from Shandong province ostensibly standing atop a field of wheat, so densely grown that it could apparently support their weight. In reality, they were standing on a bench concealed beneath the plants, and the "field" was again entirely composed of individually transplanted stalks.

Siege of Leningrad

  • July 17: Food rationing begins in Leningrad and suburbs.
  • July 19–23: First attack on Leningrad by Army Group North is stopped 100 km south of the city.
  • October: Food shortages cause serious starvation of civilians. Civilian deaths exceed hundreds of thousands by the end of the Autumn.
The reason food rationing started before the actual battle is because the city manager turned away train loads of supplies even after the siege was clearly imminent.  He was fearful that Stalin would accuse him of mismanagement and have him executed.  Consequently, civilians were dying of starvation before winter set in.

 1.2 million civilians perished in the city. After the war, The Soviet government reported about 670,000 registered deaths from 1941 to January 1944, explained as resulting mostly from starvation, stress and exposure. Some independent studies suggest a much higher death toll of between 700,000 and 1.5 million, with most estimates putting civilian losses at around 1.1 to 1.3 million.
Civilians in the city suffered from extreme starvation, especially in the winter of 1941–1942. For example, from November 1941 to February 1942 the only food available to the citizen was 125 grams of bread, of which 50–60% consisted of sawdust and other inedible admixtures, and distributed through ration cards. For about two weeks at the beginning of January 1942, even this food was available only for workers and military personnel. In conditions of extreme temperatures (down to −30 °C (−22 °F)) and city transport being out of service, even a distance of a few kilometers to a food distributing kiosk created an insurmountable obstacle for many citizens. In January–February 1942, about 700–1,000[citation needed] citizens died every day, most of them from hunger. People often died on the streets, and citizens soon became accustomed to the sight of death.
Reports of cannibalism appeared in the winter of 1941–1942, after all birds, rats, and pets had been eaten by survivors.[52] Hungry gangs attacked and ate people.[53] Leningrad police even formed a special unit to combat cannibalism.

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