by Timothy Lane 7/31/16
By Steve Allen • Available for the Kindle • This came out a quarter-century ago and was written by a liberal (though not a leftist) entertainer, but has a lot of material here worthy of interest from the conservative viewpoint.
Allen mentions a problem he started noticing during the early 1960s: an increasing degree of incompetence in the various businesses that provide services to the public. Hotels and airplane flights became increasingly annoying as his instructions so often were ignored or misinterpreted. He also talked with other travelers and found that their experiences were very similar. Much of this resulted from ignorance, much from simply not thinking. Ignorance could show up anywhere, such as his encounter with a lad who was surprised to hear that Paul McCartney had been in another band before Wings.
Of course, he gives plenty of examples of the ignorance already increasingly prevalent in schools — particularly ignorance of basic history and geography. (Most of us will have heard of many such tales already — if we haven’t been so unfortunate as to encounter them personally.)
One explanation he gives for the increasing ineptitude of some service industry workers is the entitlements mentality. Apparently a lot of people think that as long as they actually show up for a job, actually working (effectively) is optional. Remember, he was noting this a quarter-century ago, based on nearly 30 years of observation.
To help people think better, Allen includes 81 rules for doing a better job. Some are basic logic (“Beware of reacting to labels rather than to specific individuals”), including learning the rules of logic. Indeed, he recommends a great deal of learning in many fields, as well as generally never stopping learning. Some of the rules are simply good sense, such as recognizing when one is ignorant instead of pretending otherwise.
All in all, a very interesting and useful book.
Timothy Lane writes from Louisville, Kentucky and publishes the FOSFAX fanzine.
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