Joe Kitchen
Joe Kitchen

Would YOU let a bricklayer investigate your prostate gland?

According to a recent report, dentistry, as a profession, faces extinction.

This is very worrisome. Much as we all hate dentists, we cannot live without them. Dentists do terrible things to our mouths, but we need them. We need their expertise. Without the art of dentistry, I would have looked much worse on photographs and I would have been in constant pain. Dentists are a necessary evil.

They are a necessary evil in the same way that traffic cops are a necessary evil. Or urologists. Or those guys who lift up the boom at residential estates and wave you through after writing down your registration number.

None of these jobs are jobs that normal, sane people would like to do. I cannot imagine anyone saying: “I have felt the calling to be a boom operator since the age of five.” Neither have I ever heard anyone say: “My father and his father before him, and my great-great-grandfather, have all been urologists. It runs in the family. It is our tradition. Being a urologist is my heritage. It would have greatly pissed off my ancestors had I chosen any other career.”

Though these are highly specialised jobs (with the possible exception of the boom operator), they are not particularly glamorous jobs. I have yet to read a novel with a dentist or a urologist as the hero. Policemen, yes. Lawyers, yes. Private detectives, yes. But never, ever a dentist, a urologist, or a rugby referee, or a traffic cop, or a post office clerk, or an electrician, or a plumber, or a cricket official. (Speaking of cricket, “The Umpire Strikes Back” would be quite a nice title for a movie, but I doubt whether it will sell well at the Box Office.)

This makes me wonder. Most specialist jobs in society require some kind of training. Even a boom operator must at least be able to read and write, and he must have at least one arm that works. When you move up the scale to the levels of dentistry, urology, rugby refereeing, etc., the level of training required becomes quite staggering (yes, I included rugby referees, because of the myriad of new rules in rugby that keep on changing every year has rendered this job at least as complicated as that of a heart surgeon).

We trust people like dentists and urologists with our well-being, in the same way we trust pilots and post office clerks (not to mention heart surgeons) with our lives and our parcels. Yet, sadly, they sometimes let us down. I have lost numerous items of mail in the Post Office. The last batch of pills prescribed by my urologist made no difference at all to my sex life. Let’s get one thing straight: if you’re not properly trained, stay away from jobs such as these.

Which brings me to my point (no pun intended this time). If people need such rigorous training to do most of these unglamorous jobs in our highly specialised world, why can absolutely ANYONE off the street become the President of, say, America? Why isn’t there a compulsory course at university such as ‘Presidenting’? Perhaps there should be one!

After all, running a government department, or a political party, or a whole country, is quite a technical affair. You need to be able to do far more than turn up for official functions or ride around in cavalcades, be they those of the blue-light variety or not. In fact, being an elected politician is even more complicated than being a lawyer or a heart surgeon or even a rugby referee. There are all sorts of technical things you should know. You should know, to mention just one perfectly obvious example, that it’s unconstitutional to tell voters that the forefathers would be angry at them if they don’t vote for your party. Not only is it unconstitutional, it’s monumentally stupid!

A real President should be able to comprehend the division between church and state, state and judiciary, stuff like that. There is a lot of advanced knowledge one needs to come to grips with before becoming a Head of State. As we have seen over and over again in South Africa, a background in the struggle, no matter how admirable that may be, is simply not enough.

In fact, taking part in the struggle is a vastly different job than the job of being a government official, and there should be a law prohibiting members of liberation movements to become Presidents or cabinet ministers unless they train for the new job. Take the job of Minister of Police: wouldn’t it make sense to always pick someone who had not at least attended a Police Academy and spent some time in the Police Force?

I say: whenever a democratic movement wins a country for democracy, or whenever a party wins an election, they should be allowed to APPOINT the TRAINED GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS who support their policies. When Obama won the vote of the American people, he should have picked someone from his team, a truly qualified person, a real leader, to take over the Presidency. That was the moment Obama should have retired gloriously. He had run a brilliant campaign and had delivered some of the finest speeches ever heard on TV and he had cuddled an awesome number of babies, but all that amazing stuff did NOT qualify him to run a country such as the United States. Becoming a professional politician requires a different mind frame, a different set of talents, than running a campaign trail or leading a struggle.

Whereas running for office requires someone who loves the limelight, performing the actual job in the office requires someone who is prepared to work hard and stay in the background. Running a country is a boring job, it is not glamorous at all. It is nitty-gritty job. It has nothing to do with making speeches and looking photogenic.

If I ever won an election in America, I would pick someone really boring and unobtrusive to lead my government. In fact, I’d pick Al Gore! Even if David Icke believes he is a shape-shifting reptilian from outer space!

If I ever need to rush myself or a member of my family off to the local Medi-Clinic, I’d expect nothing less than to be treated by a professional medical doctor. I don’t want to be examined by one of the builders who helped to erect the Medi-Clinic. In the same way, it’s not fair that South Africa should be run by people who built up the ANC and helped get them into power. South Africa should be run by an educated elite group of professionals who truly understand and support the core values of the ANC – freedom, equality, non-racialism, all that wonderful stuff the Tambos and the Mandelas stood for – and who know how to implement those practically.

Had that happened in the first place, right back in 1995, who knows what a great country we would have had by now!

Entrusting the day-to-day governance of our country to a bunch of people who know nothing of the real demands of their jobs, is like paying a rugby referee to perform a root canal operation, or asking a team of bricklayers to have a poke at your prostate. No way! Not over my dead body! Not with those calloused hands! Stay away from me, you brute amateurs!

Power to the people? No way. Power to the electricians, rather.

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