The Age of Incompetenceby Art Jacobson on Oct. 28, 2011, under Occupy Wall Street, Politics, The American Life
Does it seem to you that more of the folks we interact with in our daily lives have been pumped up from the bottom of the gene pool? It does to me.
God only knows what this costs us all in frustration, lost time and general aggravation. We are lumbered with people who can’t seem to get anything right the first time; people who flip you off with “sorry about that” but are not sorry enough to have tried to get it right in the first place; folks who can’t make change, or don’t know their own business well enough to tell you if it stocks widgets.
We are in deep hurt the day the cash registers don’t work and some drone actually has to make change. Ever noticed that people dump change in your hand proudly announcing the exact amount? They are not, of course, arithmetical wizards. They are reading the answer from the cash register.
But what if they had to figure the change from a twenty dollar bill for a purchase of seventeen dollars and thirty-seven cents. Does anyone any longer understand that you don’t have to know subtraction to do that? Could they make change by counting to twenty, starting with the price of the item, as they took appropriate coins and bills from the register? I doubt it.
Consider, please, my pal Ralph. He needed some dental surgery and called to make an appointment with a specialist. There would be an eight week wait but, okay, he’d wait ‘till the end of November for his new choppers and some solid food.
Not being a fool he called every two weeks or so to make sure everything was go for his big day in the chair. He was assured it was. Two days before his appointment he called again. Were they expecting him? Of course not.
” I’m sorry, sir but we don’t seem to have your name on our list,” said the sweet dim thing at Doc Pullem’s office.
Through gritted gums Ralph reminded them that he’d called several times and each time been heartily reassured that all was well.
“Well, we did have your name written on a slip of paper somewhere but I thought you were supposed to call us. Would you care to make an appointment?”
Incompetence is not just personal, sometimes it’s corporate.
A family friend built her dream home in the New Mexican boonies and applied to the local phone company for service. There should be no problem since the phone lines ran right past the property, right? Wrong.
No more subscribers could be added to the existing lines and the company wasn’t going to expand service until there were more potential customers. However, since they were obligated by law to provide service they would buy her a cell phone to use for the two or three years until “other service could be brought in.”
Well, whatever. Then the telephone bill arrived and she found that she was being billed for the regular service the company was obligated to provide…but wasn’t.
She called to complain and was told by the customer service rep that it was indeed a mistake and would be corrected. There was just one hitch: They were simply unable to keep her from being incorrectly billed in the future. She would have to call every month to get any incorrect charges reversed.
Thundering, mind-boggling, incompetence is manifest even at the highest levels of national policy-making. In evidence of this I offer you our two great political parties. Faced with the need for intelligent, disinterested action on behalf of the nation’s financial welfare, you’d expect the grand debate over what is to be done would be an example Solon-like deliberation.
The debate should have been the occasion for a grand discussion of national goals for the years ahead. It could have been a refining and reaffirmation of the American dream and of ways to open that dream to all our people. It could have been an inspiring call for us, as citizens, to be more than we have been.
What we got instead was a desperate, poll driven, scuffle by two parties that finally came off as nothing more than grimly determined job seekers. The “discussion” coupled all the petty rancor of a tenure dispute with the astronomical expense of a product launch.
Greed was the machine that drove the debate; greed for power that assumes that with enough money anything can be bought and that all you have to do is appeal to the greed of your party’s base with enough tax packages and entitlements to keep them on your side.
And they wonder what Occupy Wall Street is all about.