Did January 2016 mark the moment when America’s anti-gun lobby finally lost the argument?

The tears of the President were testament to what has become an increasingly obvious truth: that the only answer to the growing number of guns in America is yet more guns.

It is the familiar see it/shoot it reasoning by which some Americans seek to solve their problems down the barrel of a loaded automatic. The debate has been best summarised in typically blunt terms by Donald Trump whose Republican platform has been largely built on aw-shucks truisms such as the goddamn terrorists would not kill as many civilians if those civilians were armed. That has to be an indisputable point of fact. Mr Smith or Mrs Wesson would happily drop Tango One at fifty paces so long as we don’t countenance any argument that suggests that each year an unarmed America would be blessed by significantly fewer firearm-related deaths and injuries.

In absolute numbers, America would be a safer country without guns but the reality is that Americans are unlikely to disarm. That the President should be moved to tears about that fact is perhaps the sign that the battle is really lost. There are too many guns in circulation and an unspoken threat looms large over the national debate. If you try to take my gun, I will shoot you.

If America isn’t at war with itself, then the relationship is at the very least an abusive one. That abuse says much about the state of the national psyche. The victory of the gun lobby is one largely won by the unspoken threat, paraphrased in the semi-official motto of the NRA: ‘I’ll give you my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands’. Yet they soften that threat with distractions about safety and security. With yearly profits in excess of a billion dollars, the gun industry can afford to do just that. They paint America as a country so vast that guns are necessary to protect the vulnerable beyond the shelter of law and order. Then there’s the argument that guns provide a barrier between the criminal and the victim. The householder shouting out into the night that ‘I’ve got a gun’ means as much as actually dropping a bead on a target and pulling a trigger. We’re told that such examples never figure in the statistics. Nobody knows how many rapists have been dissuaded by the snub-nosed revolver pointed at their face. How many home robberies haven’t happened because of an NRA sticker in the porch window?

It would be churlish to deny the efficient logic of the gun lobby’s argument. Peace can obviously be achieved either by disarming combatants or by ensuring that both sides have the means of their opponent’s destruction. The latter is the rationale of the zero-sum game that drives America’s belief in guns.

Yet, sadly, the sum is rarely zero. Most likely it will be closer to 12,000, which is the number of people who die each year from gunshot wounds. Not that such logic leverages much sympathy. The only sentiment deeper than the American love for guns is their love for God and the odds are diminishing that the big guy will ever intervene to halt a business worth an estimated $13.5 billion a year. The NRA could count on the support of five million people in 2013. In comparison, America’s army has 1.3 million personnel in 2015 compared to China’s 2.2 million. When we ask who the ‘well regulated militia’ of America’s Constitution now serves, I think the answer is clear: America’s gun lobby controls the world’s largest standing army.

In the light of such numbers, Obama was perhaps right to weep. Escaping the abusive relationship between America and its gun owners was never a realistic proposition. Instead, politicians seek scraps from their master’s plate and haggle about rates of fire and clip capacity. They are the politics of impotence, tinkering with details that never figured in the logic when The Second Amendment came into power in 1791.

Back then it was the age of duelling pistols and the flintlock rifle. In the hands of a capable solider, the musket could shoot as many as three or four rounds per minute and the need for a militia was obvious. Only by standing together could a community hope to defend itself against a well-drilled English infantry regiment capable of sustained fusillades of shots. It is not clear why the logic of 1791 is supposedly relevant to 2016. The guns used in the San Bernardino mass shooting were modified versions of the AR-15. Unlocked, the AR-15 can fire as quickly as the shooter can pull the trigger for as long as they can switch the often-oversized clips. A battalion of English foot infantry of the Revolution wouldn’t stand a chance given the range and firepower of a single modern automatic rifle.

Critics of the Second Amendment would argue that those that originally framed the ‘right to keep and bear arms’  lacked the necessary foresight and they should have specified what kind of arms citizens might bear and when they might bear them. Supporters argue that they knew exactly what they were doing. It is now merely an academic exercise to wonder what Thomas Jefferson would have made of the Glock pistol capable in fully automatic mode of emptying an extended 33 round clip in less than a second. Perhaps he would have seen it as a force for good, a guardian against the overreach of the state. He might equally have been horrified at the thought of such firepower being released in a classroom of teenagers being taught how to read poetry.

This is the essential problem America faces. Jefferson, Washington, Madison, Franklin: names from America’s past are too often invoked in order to deny the pragmatism of our modernity. It assumes that men to whom the biro would have been a miracle were more wise or capable than those born in the age of digital communications and space flight. It might be laughable but there is no way of countering logic that elevates cold statues over thinking bodies. America is unwilling to change. The President’s warm tears testified to that fact.

 

David Waywell writes and cartoons at The Spine.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

37 Comments on "Obama’s Tears"

  1. mahatmacoatmabag | 10th January 2016 at 9:27 am | Reply

    The first thing all tyrants seek to achieve is to disarm the population.

    • I don’t think that logic stands up. There are many nations without guns that I wouldn’t term ‘tyrannies’ and many tyrannies where the population is armed to the teeth. Simply, any civilised society predicated on the right of its citizens to kill each other has questionable legitimacy to use the term ‘civilised society’. America is a divided nation and the sensible part of America is bullied by that part of America that still celebrates guns, God, and worse.

      • mahatmacoatmabag | 10th January 2016 at 1:11 pm | Reply

        “America is bullied by that part of America that still celebrates guns, God, and worse.”
        Well that firmly puts you in the camp of those that hate western democracy & the Judaeo-Christian beliefs that are the core of western civilisation. Do you miss the downfall of the USSR? well don’t worry its replacement, the EU, will take care of your needs & will protect you from harm by the migrants flooding the continent Good luck with that David

        • Thank you for your reply, mahatmacoatmabag, though you completely undermine your occasional salient points with these delicious outbursts of undiluted drivel. You keep waffling on about Judaeo-Christian beliefs but do you actually know what that means beyond it being a code word for you own ultra-orthodoxy?

          Which parts of Judaeo-Christian culture do you think it permissible for me to reject? Witch burnings? The Inquisition? The destruction of the monasteries? The child abuse scandals? The Holy Wars? The anti-Semitism of the Catholic and Protestant churches? The treatment of Galileo?

          Not that it matters when you simply see people as being ‘them’ or ‘us’ but where have I ever said that I hate democracy? My view is that of Churchill who said: ‘Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.’ The problem of democracy is that it is decided by the ignorant rather than the informed and the ignorant are kept ignorant through the mendacity of the media and the designs of the government.

          You snipe, as you so often do, talking about people who disagree with your wanting the return to the USSR. Would that be the same USSR my great grandparents fled during the Revolution? Would that be the same USSR which informed so much of my childhood and led me to detest bullies and people who use threats to intimidate others to agree with their point of view? I detest hypocrites and scoundrels, usually in the garb of politicians or saints. And, yes, I do reject religion which I believe is largely superstitious nonsense which encourages people in all parts of the world to engage in all manner of egregious actions ranging from self-harm to the mutilation of the young, from brutal torture all the way to murder and genocide.

          It is hard-line opinions such as yours that make the liberals so useless. They are as utterly right (and wrong) as you are right but also wrong. Where you ‘ban all’ they say ‘liberate all’. When you say ‘war’ they say ‘peace’. The sensible position is usually somewhere in the middle.

          • mahatmacoatmabag | 10th January 2016 at 2:31 pm |

            Firstly I am secular not religious & unlike you my Russian ancestors are not recent arrivals from the USSR , the Russian side of the family had the good sense to flee the pogroms back in the mid 1800’s. My English ancestors go way back, cant say for sure if they were in the British isles at the end of the ice age or not but probably knew a few wooly mammoths.
            Whether you are secular or religious you are part & parcel of the Judaeo-Christian value system which has kept Western civilisation in good steed for almost 2000 years

  2. A good read as always David. The problem for those pushing for less guns is that in the (improbable) event that they managed to secure stricter controls it would be unlikely that any significant reduction in gun crime would be seen for at least a decade and most probably much longer. There are simply too many weapons already out there that could be bought illegally or stolen to make a difference, this would be the case even if guns were banned and there was an amnesty backed by a government buyback scheme. I know the gun lobby state that the vast majority of guns used in crimes currently are obtained illegally, how true this is I couldn’t say but it sounds plausible. When the high school shootings and general carnage continued unabated the gun lobby would simply turn around and say we told you so and demand repeal making many of the arguments you have listed above to back their case.

    • Thanks Rob and exactly right. That’s why I have changed my opinion a little. I’m still anti-gun but now utterly cynical about the politics. I can’t conceive of a violent act so horrendous that it would change people’s opinions. If some of the recent shootings haven’t made much difference, then I don’t know what could.

  3. Thanks David. I agree with Rob it is a good read.
    Obama’s tears didn’t move me, like his red-lines which were merely empty gestures. The fact is NRA or the Gun Lobby has more support in Congress than Obama has. “simples” as the ad for “compare the market dot com” says or as Alf Garnett used to say “it stands to reason” innit? or some similar expression.

    • Thanks Nehad, though you’re far too hard on the man. Obama’s tears did move me but I do think they were indicative of a man with the best intentions but utterly powerless to act in a meaningful way. For a modern nation, they are utterly hamstrung by an eighteenth century Constitution.

  4. It’s not the number of guns in the USA that worry me, it’s the type of weapon that is on sale to the general population. As David points out the Second Amendment was written in the age of duelling pistols and the flintlock rifle and that makes it incompatible with a fully automatic weapon that can fire thirty three rounds a second.

    Why not introduce a simple additional test for gun purchase, you need to demonstrate the need for the weapon? For a single woman purchasing a six shot handgun that should be easy but someone purchasing an AK-47 or a Uzi 9mm should have a harder task.

    One more thing. I understand the need for some Americans who purchase a weapon just in case the odd tyrant comes along, but those tyrants have much better weapons than civilians. The scenes after the Boston Marathon where the entire city went into lockdown show this to be the case and the NRA were nowhere to be seen.

    • Thanks Peter. I wonder if there are statistics which break down the gun deaths by caliber/gun type. I would guess that the majority of deaths (including so many suicides) are by handguns with relatively small capacity. The heavier guns we see in sprees catch the attention but it only takes one bullet to kill and (I’d guess) it’s the instances where only a few shots were fired that probably account for the majority of the deaths. The difference is probably linked to human psychology. You would have to have a serious mental / moral ‘episode’ to start shooting an assault rifle. Handguns are, I think, more ‘normal’ in the sense that you might reach for one at a moment of heightened passion in the way you would never reach for your AK-47.

    • mahatmacoatmabag | 10th January 2016 at 1:17 pm | Reply

      Totally false comparison, terrorists & criminals will always have weapons, poisons, knives & bombs. You obviously are unaware that sub-machine guns & fully automatic rifles have been banned in the USA for some time, civilian single shot versions of weapons like the Uzi & AK47 are available but their sale is highly regulated

      • That might be true but do these rather out-dated notions of ‘sub-machine gun’ and pistol have any relevance to the current debate when it is apparently quick a trivial job of turning a legal Glock into one with a fully automatic mode that can do this?

        Glock

        and this:

        link.

  5. Could they find a safe(r) system that allows gun enthusiasts to get the ‘thrills’ or whatever it is that makes them want to play with guns, without exposing the whole population to the risk of unstable people using weapons in public? Maybe a technical solution? A gun that becomes useless after a certain number of cartridges are fired? A chipped gun that would only fire with matching chipped bullets maybe with a time-out disabling the combination after a short period of months or years? Even some kind of active enabling system required to be present for the gun to fire — the weapon could essentially be de-activated? That might not appeal to the apocalypse or prepping types but maybe they are the ones you would rather disqualify from holding live weapons? I don’t have any detailed technical knowledge of this stuff but something along these lines ought to be possible.

    I suppose what I’m really saying is rather than carry on trying to make people change their strongly-held opinions instead change the environment to make it a whole lot safer — and opens a completely new field of thought.

    • Nice ideas and certainly possible in terms of the tech but it’s not going to happen. This all comes down to that Second Amendment which gives citizens the right to bear arms and be ready to be part of the militia against threats foreign and domestic (i.e. the government). Americans consider it one of the key texts of their democracy and some speak of it as thought it’s written by God. Judges have, I think, ruled a few times to argue that there are limits to what constitutes sensible arms but even those judgments are ignored or mired in controversy.

      The problem with America is the size of the place. The number of gun deaths each day can be significant but, spread so thinly across the nation, they don’t appear to be many from any local point of view. If they did have 10 people killed each day but always in a single place, then perhaps there would be change. It’s slightly analogous to car accidents. Lots of people die each day on the road and we ignore the problem. If, however, every death involved the same model car, then there would be action.

    • mahatmacoatmabag | 11th January 2016 at 10:45 am | Reply

      David you wote: “without exposing the whole population to the risk of unstable people using weapons in public?”
      Just how many unstable criminals are using illegal weapons every day to commit killings in Chicago ( murder capital USA ), Detroit, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Harlem & elsewhere in crime ridden ethnic minority neigbourhoods. The USA’s left wing dominated media has a long standing policy of not reporting daily gun crime & murder of Black on Black and Hispanic crimes using almost exclusively illegal weapons instead only reports crimes committed by Whites. Thus regulation & banning of legal firearms would not make one iota of difference .

      • I know you asked this of the other David but I thought I’d point out that regulation and ban of guns *would* make a difference. To say otherwise is illogical. There’s a finite number of guns in a finite number of hands. Restrict the number of guns going into the system whilst reducing those already in circulation: the net number of guns would reduce and so too the opportunities for use, misuse and accident. You might not stop the gang crimes or kind of shootings you mention which are down to living standards and education (the real deep lying cause). You would, however, initially reduce the accidents and might reduce the suicides. Eventually, you would also impact on the spur-of-the-moment shootings when people act rashly because they had access to a handgun at a moment of rage.

        All of it is academic, though, since it will never happen.

        • mahatmacoatmabag | 11th January 2016 at 1:09 pm | Reply

          Restricting or banning legal weapons will spur the growth of the illegal import & the production of firearms in the USA and make the situation worse. Prohibition of alcohol failed miserably & made the Mafia rich, at present the Drug cartels are incredibly rich & powerful and US customs efforts to halt the drug trade a failure, a gun ban will lead to the cartels smuggling everything from handguns to AK47’s to machine guns to rocket launchers to cannons and the result will be carnage not just by ethnic minority gangs fighting each other with AK47’s but disenfranchised hillbillys, hunters & extremist militia groups will turn to heavier weaponry to confront the authorities with

          • The possibility of armed conflict with elements of the ‘militia’ is the reason why gun control won’t happen. However, I don’t accept your argument about illegal imports and self-made weapons. Not that it won’t happen (because it obviously would) but the parallel with Prohibition is, I think, a false one. Banning alcohol was ridiculous and people knew it. They also knew that the punishment for breaking that law was worth the risk. The need to own a gun is simply not the same as the need to have a drink with their dinner and the punishments would be so severe that most people would think it not worth it. The legality of gun ownership would be much more black & white. In fact, the comparison with drugs is similarly wrong. The need for (or addiction to) guns is simply not the same as for drink or drugs. Not saying there won’t be examples of that but nothing quite like the drug war. It’s like you couldn’t ban sex (or even pornography) but you could ban Justin Timberlake (and, frankly, I think they should).

    • With regards to motivation there is a huge hunting culture in the US, according to government figures 13.7 million people went hunting in 2011 spending $34 billion on their trips, equipment, permits etc, I think it is all part of a wider experience for them, the US is not nearly as urbanised as the UK.

      • Definitely right and understandable in a way. I’ve read my James Fenimore Cooper and love all that pioneer mythology of the long rifles. And, as you say, being less urbanised means that there is obviously a need to protect yourself when far from home, far from safety, and far from law and order. But, as people also point out, there’s a difference between weapons to protect you from a bear or from attack and the kind of firepower that gun nuts love and think the Constitution permits them to have.

        • Not too sure how relevant the type of weapon is to be honest David, there are arguments about which weapons are most prevalent in mass shootings but if you are a half decent shot any firearm will do. Look at Derrick Bird, he killed 12 people and wounded 11 armed only with a .22 rifle and a shotgun which would be in the upper quartile of mass shootings in the US, he knew what he was doing and hit what he aimed at, I think I read that he fired only about 50 rounds. Getting a shotgun certificate in the UK is quite easy really, a firearms certificate much less so though.

          • Thanks Rob. I guess the reason a shotgun is ‘safer’ is because you can fire only two shots before you have to snap open the breech. Doesn’t lend itself to spree type shootings, which is why we got those stricter laws post (I’m guessing) Dunblane.

            I agree, though, weapon type isn’t that important, which is why I questioned whether terms like ‘sub-machine gun’ are really apposite, especially given the flexibility of modern handguns. Surely clip capacity is the real factor, perhaps followed by ammunition type. I assume that dum dum rounds are illegal but the size of the bullet must also be significant on the kind of wound they leave. Not saying that a .22 couldn’t kill a person but wouldn’t you choose to be hit by a .22 rather than a .45?

            The point, I suppose, is whether you respond to sprees or single events. Sprees get the headlines and are the reason for current attempts to limit things like clip capacity but, surely, it’s the one shot incidents that claim more lives. That’s why I doubt any of these laws will have that big an impact. You need to figure out a way to stop the baby looking inside its mothers handbag and accidentally shooting a sibling or the depressive reaching for a gun when drunk and blowing his brains out.

          • mahatmacoatmabag | 11th January 2016 at 4:33 pm |

            Rob, personally I would have written to David Waywell: “Not too sure how relevant your comments are to be honest David, because by & large they are confused & emotional and show a basic lack of understanding the subject”

          • For a moment I did think of sending your comment to the bin where so many of your classics already reside. However, since this was only meant to insult me rather than the usual targets of your mean and ugly politics, I thought it worth publishing. I tried to reply to your comments because I thought it the reasonable and right thing to do. If you want to insult me, go ahead. You shame yourself like so many internet trolls who produce nothing but are willing to condemn those that do. In future, I won’t bother replying and you’ll be lucky to have another comment passed for moderation.

  6. mahatmacoatmabag | 11th January 2016 at 5:31 pm | Reply

    David Waywell, have you take over from Tim Marshall in running this website? if so good luck to you & you might as well rename it “The Two Minutes Hate” that is if the heirs to George Orwell have not copyrighted the phrase. No need to publish my comment, as I wrote on Jan.10th “The first thing all tyrants seek to achieve is to disarm the population” and the 2nd thing is to censor & ban all opinions contrary to theirs. 10 four over & out.

    • Not censorship merely my choice not to waste my time with your rudeness. And it’s Tim’s website. I merely built it. If he wants to pass your comments to other articles then that’s his right. Myself, I’ve given you more chance than others would and would prefer to spend my very limited time discussing points with people who at least appreciate the considerable time and effort it takes to write and draw for this site.

  7. Putting some numbers in albeit from the wiki, http://tinyurl.com/guntables the firearm-related death per 100k of the population is 0.23 in the UK vs 10.64 in the USA. Those are the ‘all-causes’ firearms related deaths which seemed to make sense when I looked into it. It isn’t helpful to bring calibre into it for the purposes of these particular numbers…all firearms are potentially lethal even those designed to be low risk of mortality (e.g. TASERS which are classed as firearms in the UK). To my mind it’s a no-brainer that if you increase the number of firearms per capita whether legally held or not then more deaths per capita are going to result. I don’t know what the law is; linear, some nth power or what but obviously more firearms more deaths. Note: In the UK an airgun is a ‘firearm’ so we need to be careful about definitions when looking at official data.

    There is a different argument; that of personal freedom. Should the public have the right to carry arms despite the clear link between gun-ownership and deaths due to guns? Does a person’s freedom to carry arms trump the rights to keep our public places as safe as we can? That’s a very different question!

    • Thanks for the numbers, David. Would make for an interesting computer model to know how deaths would increase with distribution of guns. P.J. O’Rourke wrote a blisteringly good piece years ago in one of his books of essays in which he described living in a gun nation. From memory, he exchanges fire with the postman and spends his entire day dodging bullets. Wouldn’t surprise me if it that linear line didn’t start to bend up at the end as the whole nation lives increasingly on a hair trigger like a room filled with mouse traps. One shot would start everybody firing.

      Agreed. Personal freedom is the key and why this is surely a matter of the Constitution and whether America will find a way of adapting it to the modern world. My instinct is to liberalise everything so long as one person’s use doesn’t intrude on another person’s right not to use. How to set that in the context of gun ownership is tricky given that gun use very often intrudes on other people’s freedoms.

  8. David, you wrote ” My instinct is to liberalise everything so long as one person’s use doesn’t intrude on another person’s right not to use.” Should we be allowed to set a bad example to our juniors, children, etc. In the armed forces, police and better schools superiors and prefects are expected to set a good example. With a bit of lateral thinking I suspect there are other different categories e.g. public health, vigilance in streets, etc., …. Where might we end up if we start to allow such categories?

    • Just my gut instinct and no doubt easily demolished. Doesn’t banning things (including the things we say) tend to be counter-productive? I agree, though: being too liberal takes us into places with unintended consequences. Should we be allowed to set a bad example to children? That’s a very good question but doesn’t it also set us off again on that slippery slope towards that place where we find it hard to decide what a bad example would look like? Who is to judge?

      I was thinking about this yesterday when I saw that David Cameron suggest that people should have parenting lessons. What is good parenting? Which experts do we listen to? Those that believe in hot housing? Those that believe in a more liberal education? Michael Gove who, as far as I can tell, implemented some staggeringly bad policies in our schools? The school curriculum sets a terrible example to children yet it’s set for supposedly the best reasons. For example, force feeding Shakespeare (and poetry in general) to children tends to generate a complete hatred that lasts their entire life. Is that a good or bad example?

      You mention prefects but by what standard are they good and good at what? Setting standards and, if so, what standards? Academic? Sporting? Subservience to a system? Discipline? In my school, it was the latter. Prefects were unpaid teaching assistants used during breaks to cover classes. Wouldn’t be allowed these days but there you go.

      Take another example. There was a truly horrible story on Yahoo News the other week about a mother who had bought her son lots of presents for Christmas because in previous year she couldn’t afford to buy him much. This year she’d solved the problem by starring in some porn movies. Again: good or bad example? I would say bad but does that then mean mothers shouldn’t be allowed to appear in porn? I personally find that deeply objectionable but we’re already in some troublesome moral areas.

      All these moral decisions contain an element of compromise and different governments reach difference compromises. Even though I say I’m against bans I think the rule of protecting others could provide a basis for restrictions which are largely the restrictions we have today. However, it’s late and I’m about to try to figure the entire history of human morality out… I hope somebody can provide a better answer than this one.

  9. How about a compromise? Democrats get their gun control and Republicans get their wall with Mexico. Wouldn’t want a black market for weapons operating over an unrestricted border, right?

  10. David (Waywell) I don’t believe that ‘force-feeding’ hard and indigestible subjects puts children off for life. Au contraire. However you have to ‘feed’ them to the level at which they start to get something good out of it not just force them to have a few miserable classes taken by a mediocre and bored old teacher a couple of years before they retire, for a couple of terms just as normal boys and girls are finding out how much fun it can be just being boys and girls… The Classics are NOT easy subjects and they are invaluable in teaching but they have to be taught well and for long enough, by enthusiastic teachers who really know the subject.

    Lindsey — that made me chuckle!

    • My experience is based on teaching it to undergraduates and also living with a teacher who cares passionately about literature but has to teach it to a level of student clearly unsuited to the material. Better able children: yes, Shakespeare done with passion and intelligence is the best education they can have. I’m really talking about the institutionalising of the classics in a way that’s really more about ideologically driven politics than real educational outcomes. For example, how should Churchill be taught? As a success story or accurately including his mistakes as well as his greatness? Too much of our curriculum has to do with politicians thinking they know best.

      This could turn into a long rant about how our schools need to be reorganised, with proper options available that give good skills to those that don’t want to go to Uni, as well as proper skills for those that do. At the moment, our poorer schools struggle to do both because of government interference and an obsession with grades which are absolutely meaningless given the current system.

      PS.

      I should add that, of course, my experiences are simply my experiences. I never went to a good school but a school that, a few years later, went into ‘special measures’ before eventually getting bulldozed so they could start again. All my education came after my school years when I could do it myself. It does make me a bit anti-system but the system failed me badly like it failed so many people around me. On the other hand, I am a great believer in education for its own sake. Nothing beats a passion for a subject, which not only takes away the pain of study but also the pressure of exams. I did best when I didn’t give a damn about my results because I just enjoyed writing about my subject. Children need to learn that skill, stop thinking about the results and care only about the process and their subject. Shakespeare was meant and is an entertainment. How education succeeds in making it a chore is, to me, simply baffling.

  11. David, isn’t much of the problem our refusal to admit that there are some really terrible teachers, doctors, pilots, and many other occupations of a critical nature where anything less than 100% is, frankly, frightening? It must also be true that the best of the bunch will want to work where their colleagues are also the best and most interesting and…errrm…the pay is usually better! Human nature groups us according to our abilities. Even the pseuds!

    • But aren’t terms like 100% misleading? Best tutors I ever had worked at about 20% but they were individually brilliant, gifted or simply passionate. That sounds like I’m promoting laziness when I’m not. I’d rather have a pilot who can fly and land a plane on 20% than one can only do it when working at 100%. It means they have spare capacity when they need the extra effort. Perhaps I am also promoting laziness in the sense that, in the right context, laziness is rewarding. Isn’t there supposedly a cafeteria in Cambridge where academics go to relax and the staff aren’t allowed to close when people are chatting. Apparently, it’s when all the best ideas happen. I suppose I’ve always been wary of that Tory phrase ‘hardworking’ families, as though we live to break ourselves on the machine of industry.

      As for the second bit: I can’t judge. I don’t think life is really that simple or, at least, mine has never been that easy. Not everybody is afforded the chances, whether due to health, family, or simply bad luck. What you’re arguing is almost Darwinian and the power of the market but, if that were true, the best teachers would be in schools around London where the Russian oligarchs put their children. Perhaps I’m naive thinking that isn’t how it is. Perhaps that’s the problem but I just don’t know. I don’t know if human nature does group us according to our abilities or, if it does, then that explains why I feel so utterly abject walking around my local town with its eight tattoo parlours and no bookshop. Well, now I really am depressed! 😉

Leave a comment

favorites.png
Comments are moderated before they are published. Please consider if you're contributing to the discussion before you post. Abuse and general negativity will not be allowed to appear on the site. This might be the Internet but let's try to keep things civil.
 

Your email address will not be published.


*


*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.