Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Who Speaks For The Low Functioning?

The median for IQ purposes is 100. That means that half of us fall below IQ 100, by definition. Those unlucky people should not be blamed or penalized for their natural condition, delivered by fate at birth. They should not be mocked. My purpose herein is to suggest that they have the same right as anybody to security and happiness. That right is not being honored, and that is a shame on all of us.

Disclaimer: I make no claims of intelligence for myself, and I would hope that anyone who examined my life would be gentle in describing the meager successes that I have achieved with any talents that I may have been given. Furthermore, it’s not up to me to assign value to people, to categorize them. I’m not judging anybody. Now let’s get on with it.

We’re not allowed to call people “stupid” anymore. That’s probably a good thing. In any case, it’s not politically correct these days to call someone stupid, or retarded. It’s true, when you think of it, that “stupid” and “retarded” are not quite descriptive. Consider the old saying, “he’s so smart that he’s stupid.” 

There are nuances to these things.

Now we are encouraged to refer to those formerly stupid people “low functioning.” Myself, I believe that the sobriquet “low functioning” encompasses more than a mere recitation of the person’s IQ. I think that the factors for low functioning status are: 1) IQ; 2) temperament; and 3) emotional health. Any combination of shortcomings in these three areas may cause some of us to be overmatched by the complexities of modern life. Our functioning is impaired. Hence, “low functioning.”

It’s worth mentioning that most families include an uncle, or a cousin, who is smart enough, and a very nice fellow, but who never seems to get his wheels on the ground. They live with their parents and struggle to make a living. They are the hidden face of the low functioning.

The point is that the low functioning will always be with us (to paraphrase). They need our consideration more than ever in our modern world, and as I say, they deserve it. Things aren’t getting any easier for working people. Up until quite recently, someone with a limited education and no extra-ordinary skills could easily find a job that could turn into a long term meal ticket. They could get married, raise families, and send their children to university. By now, those jobs have fled overseas, and our society’s education priorities have shifted to profit-centered. All that is left is Walmart, or McDonalds, and those places do not enable anyone to have a decent life.

I say, “they deserve our consideration.” What do I mean?

They deserve an education tailored to their needs; they deserve access to all the education that they can stand, practically free; they deserve social services to assist with any difficulties that they may be experiencing; they deserve decent jobs that pay a living wage; and they deserve government policies that recognize and value their existence. It is not enough to tell them, like Willard Romney told the world in 2012, “just borrow money from your parents and start a business!” (Truth to tell, Romney is the real retard in this story so far.)

In other words, the low functioning deserve their fair share of the prosperity that is a feature of American life.

That, however, is not happening. Instead, those low functioning Americans are being left behind, they are being blamed for their own status as also-rans, and, worst of all, they are being exploited by cynical power interests. (Think political interests; business interests.) This needs to stop.

(Let’s pause for a moment to consider the breath taking naivety of that simple statement, “this needs to stop.”)

These powerful interests are abusing the low functioning with things like:

1.   Institutional unemployment;
2.   Exorbitant pricing policies for education, etc.;
3.   Vote harvesting;
4.   Fear mongering; and
5.   Religion.

Dare we say it out loud? Low functioning, low education and low skilled (mostly) white people are leading the charge of American politics off into the realm of fantasy. It’s not their idea, either. It’s that exploitation thing I just mentioned.

(Unless, of course, the cart has taken over the lead from the horse, and now it is the low functioning who are driving before them their former Galtian Overlords. That’s a pleasant thought, but it is unlikely.)

They are electing people who laugh at them and work against their best interests; they are enabling religion to pervade politics; and they are empowering corporate interests in their ongoing crusade to destroy the Federal government. These are terrible things in which there is no benefit for the low functioning.

The low functioning are not to blame for their anger and discontent. They have suffered a very real diminution in their ability to make a living, and support a family, and to lead a prosperous, American life. They had the American Dream there for a short while, four decades or so. It’s well and truly gone by now. They do have real grievances that deserve airing. I feel their pain, more, in fact, than I care to admit. The terrible thing is that the exploitation that they are responding to leads them to blame the wrong forces for their reduced condition.

It’s not immigrants that have ruined the American Dream; not Democrats; not Liberals; not coastal states; not urban culture; not academic elites. It’s certainly not recent arrivals like terrorists and Muslims. I’ll sound like a broken record if I spell out who it is that they should be blaming. You know who I mean.

So, who speaks for the low functioning in American society? There was a long period in Western Civilization when nobody did, nobody cared at all. Slight shifts began to enter the picture around the arrival of the Enlightenment and the American Experiment. More recently, labor unions and New Deal Democrats did a lot to help raise the living standards of those who had previously been written off as “the poor.” (And the “undeserving poor,” to boot.) There was even, for a time, something like a covenant between labor and management, which arose during and after World War II. That was an unspoken agreement in which labor promised to diligently do the work of business, and management promised to take care of labor with health care and more equitable wages.

Man, how gone is that train by now! It’s out of sight! It gives me chills even to think about it! How great was that! No one under forty-years-old can even imagine it! Such a thing would only be considered stupid now, the real stupid, with no reference to political correctness.

But who? Who’s left? Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders? An army of two? Maybe the low functioning are doomed. Where can they go for help? For solace? For Christ’s sake, where can they go for health care? How can they live on the wages of a greeter at Walmart?

The conditions that I am describing here are a scandal and a deep shame for a country that claims to be the land of the free. They should be, anyway. Look around, lots of countries are doing much better for their workers than America is. Their workers have much greater security; they make more money; they eat better; they get much more vacation time; they don’t worry about health care; their children go to university free; then have, indeed, more freedom. It’s true.

I, for one, am ashamed. 

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