The Case for Stupidity
I don’t watch much television. (I have to say that or you’d stop reading, but it’s actually true.) But at some point I used to see a commercial that showed babies dressed up in items associated with various professions. One wore a pilot’s hat, another had a stethoscope around his neck. You get the idea. The message was something like anyone can do anything. Very positive. But of course complete nonsense. Every time I saw it I’d think, what about the stupid people?
Anybody can do anything? I know this is America, but come on. If you believe that, think of all the people you know. Now rank them from the smartest to the least smart (Unless everyone you know has exactly the same intelligence there has to be a least smart no matter how positive a person you are). Now imagine you’re about to have brain surgery. They’re rolling your gurney into the operating room. The anesthesiologist (Yes. I looked up the spelling. I may not be the dumbest person I know but I’m not the smartest either.) puts the plastic mask over your face and tells you to breathe deeply. Now imagine, just as you’re going out, that least smart person you came up with a minute ago leaning down from above, smiling at you, and saying, “Don’t worry. I Know I can do this.”
You see what I mean? Everyone can’t do anything. So what’s interesting about this? Why bring it up now? The stupid have been with us as long as the rest of us (you notice how I’ve subtly separated them from myself), so what’s new about this? Well I’ll tell you. If you think about it, pilot schools and medical schools actually do, for the most part, have standards. Try to get into medical school if you didn’t finish eighth grade or become a pilot if you try to read maps upside down. So while the commercial sounded good, the people with rocks in their heads really can’t become doctors or pilots (And who really feels badly about that?) So where are those people going?
Think about it. What’s the largest category of employment that doesn’t have any requirements, or at least not any requirements related to intelligence? Exactly. Elected officials. What does it take to become a member of Congress or the President? You need to be 25, 30, or 35 years old and that’s about it. Even the stupid generally manage to reach those ages without trying to change the tires on a moving car or picking up a chainsaw by the wrong end. Elected public service is tailor-made for the stupid. If you don’t believe it, then read the newspapers (Or watch the evening news if you find the newspapers taxing. We won’t think worse of you for it.)
What were the founding fathers thinking? I believe the problem must have been that they spent too much time hanging around each other. Whenever they looked around the room who’d they see? Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin. They should have taken a night or two off and hung out in some of the taverns. I bet they would’ve come up with a job requirement or two.
There is a great quote by John Kennedy. He was speaking at a dinner attended by every living American Nobel laureate at the time. He said, “There has never been a greater concentration of intellectual power here at the White House since Thomas Jefferson dined alone.” How many times have you read about your elected officials in recent years, from either party, and had something like that come to mind? Alright, I don’t expect everyone in public office to be Thomas Jefferson, but it would be nice if more of them could attain the level of Bonzo in Bedtime for Bonzo (Google it if you don’t know.)
This isn’t a partisan view. I see plenty of examples in both parties and along both ends of the political spectrum. I’m not particularly political myself and don’t have any desire to engage in a political discussion, most of which I find as stupid as I find most politicians. And to some extent I can appreciate the clown show our public servants have become. But at some point there has to be a cost. When bridges and sewer systems crumble while our elected officials debate whatever nonsense they’ve come up with today, it conjures up images of Nero fiddling while Rome burned, and remember what happened to Nero, and Rome.