The Cognitive Dysfunction Epidemic

The Cognitive Dysfunction Epidemic

Have you ever seen an ad for Cognitive Dysfunction (CD) like the ubiquitous Erectile Dysfunction (ED) ads? It might feature a man getting his truck stuck in the mud while the announcer intones, “You’ve learned a thing or two—now it’s time to get your brain working.” Or a man and a woman gazing at each other as these words appear on the screen—“When the moment is right, will you be able to open your mouth and say something intelligent?”

You haven’t seen such ads, of course, because they don’t exist. That’s because there are no drugs to treat CD, and more importantly because in our culture the brain is considered less important than that other organ.

CD has produced an alarming increase in situations in which people speak and act stupidly, seemingly without the slightest awareness or embarrassment. The most obvious, everyday ones include the quiz show contestant who was asked “Which is bigger, the moon or an elephant?” She was allowed to call a friend for help and then permitted to ask the audience, but she ignored the advice of both and answered . . . (drum roll) . . . An elephant!

More troubling, of course, is the sort of stupidity that harms millions of people, such as these examples from government.

  • The government passed the Affordable Housing Act, which required banks to give mortgages to people who could not afford the payments. The predictable result was the “Great Recession” of 2008 that wreaked havoc on the American economy. Then the government blamed the banks for the irresponsibility they themselves had mandated. Finally, they spent billions more taxpayer dollars to bail out the banks.
  • Nancy Pelosi’s absurd perspective “We’ve got to pass the Affordable Care Act before we know what is in it,” overturned the traditional wisdom of knowing what one is doing BEFORE doing it. Sadder still, a majority of legislators embraced that perspective, passed the bill, and cost American taxpayers additional billions of dollars.
  • The Obama Administration released five known terrorists in exchange for Bowe Bergdahl, who allegedly deserted his unit in Afghanistan, an act considered treason under U.S. law. Moreover, instead of putting Bergdahl in military prison pending the result of a court martial, the military reportedly returned him to active duty, at the same time the Defense Department announced an end to the careers of thousands of service men and women who served faithfully.
  • Both Republicans and Democrats dilly-dallied and dithered while the U.S./Mexican border problem became a crisis. From October 2013 to May 2014, 162,000 people from countries other than Mexico entered through Mexico, including 55,000 unaccompanied children. An earlier act of stupidity by our government guaranteed that none of those people can be sent directly home, despite the fact that many have communicable diseases like drug-resistant tuberculosis and scabies, and a number of others are members of the dangerous gang MS-13 that specializes in recruiting children as young as 10.

To compound the stupidity of the border situation, the Administration began transporting the children to cities around the U.S. without prior notification and preparation. Moreover, the President requested $3.7 billion of taxpayer’s money to pay for these activities. Keep in mind, one billion equals one thousand million! As if that were enough border stupidity, many in government refuse to accept the common sense proposition that the first step in solving the problem of illegal immigration is to enforce border security. Many continue to believe the problem of illegal immigrants streaming across the border can be solved without closing the border, even as Senate Majority leader Harry Reid offered the breathtakingly mindless opinion that “the border is secure” and there is no problem!

  • Both Republicans and Democrats continue to give billions of dollars in foreign aid to countries whose leaders hate America and all that it stands for. They give, as well, advanced weapons of war. The stated intention behind such aid is to raise the standard of living of the people and to support democratic movements. The stupidity lies in the fact that there is overwhelming evidence that corrupt leaders in those countries siphon the money off for themselves and use the weapons to suppress their people. Simply said, our elected officials give our tax dollars to enrich dictators and give their people reason to hate America as much as they hate the own leaders.
  • A less dramatic but no less outrageous example of government stupidity is the retention of government workers who are guilty of incompetence and/or malfeasance. The most notorious example of these deficiencies is the case of Veterans Administration hospitals’ deliberate ignoring of veterans’ medical needs. What classifies this as stupidity rather than misfortune is that Congress has allowed workers to form unions and create rules that protect them from being fired even for just cause. In some cases, incompetence or malfeasance is rewarded with bonuses and promotions!

These are but a few examples of the Cognitive Dysfunction (CD) that seems to be reaching epidemic proportions not only in government, where it is most costly to all Americans, but also in business, the professions, and personal lives.

As I have noted, there is no pill available to treat CD (like the ubiquitous ones for ED), but that does not mean no remedies are available. The best approach to CD in government is for voters to stop choosing candidates on the basis of party affiliation or longevity in office or rhetorical skill and instead choose them on their ability to solve problems and make decisions.

There are also remedies for our own personal Cognitive Dysfunction, which I will discuss in a forthcoming essay.

Copyright © 2014 by Vincent Ryan Ruggiero. All rights reserved

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Vincent Ryan Ruggiero