Sunday, March 16, 2014

Old School 101: Henny Youngman vs. Ross Perot?

“The doctor gave a man six months to live.  He couldn’t pay his bill so he gave him another six months.”  Henny Youngman, stolen from God-knows-who.

Hey, if that’s all it takes to gain immortality, I’ll happily be a living deadbeat.  There must be a catch or some fine print.

When you think about it, though, we do place a good bit of implicit trust in our health-care providers.  (Relax, you’re the Prozac Generation, so Relax, Relax.)  Suppose your doctor stood you up next to a tape measure and then deduced that you had a fever; you’d be skeptical.  But the latest innovation in thermometric gadgetry inspires sufficient credence for you to allow the same deduction.  Why?  Blind trust, either simply in our generation’s miraculous gadgetry or in the doctor’s competence and professionalism.  And the level of this trust and confidence expands exponentially in cases of more serious illness or injury.

I think this very phenomenon of blind trust (mass hysteria?) is frighteningly common.  Consider the Crisis in Education, kindly brought to our attention by Mr. Perot some years ago.  In response to the billionaire, witness the convoluted and overlapping system of standards and measurements that we now call schooling.  Acronyms aplenty, high stakes testing galore, and the flavor of the month comes with value-added projection.  In other words, more cutting-edge gadgetry, though not of the thermometric variety.  This gadgetry and its proponents purport to measure the intellectual and scholastic status, mostly of adolescents, a subset of our species genetically programmed for rebelliousness and other forms of stubborn illogic.  Methinks these Pedagogical Physicians are using a yardstick to monitor this fever of crisis.  This approach seems counter-intuitive, if not downright dangerous – even painful.

If we’re indeed wedded to this gadgetry and the theories behind it, perhaps  Mr. Youngman again provides us a way out … Take My Wife, Please!