POWELL: Abolish the 'doctor' racket; and 'when beggars die ...'

Published on Tuesday, 22 December 2020 19:44
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Legions of the politically correct are insisting that President-elect Joe Biden's wife, Jill, be given the honorific title "Doctor" because she holds a doctorate degree in education, which she received largely on the basis of a mediocre term paper. Objections to her honorific are being denounced as sexist and anti-intellectual, an insult to all women with doctorate degrees, as if men haven't gotten such degrees and claimed the title too and as if all doctorate degrees signify learning and service commanding special respect.

But journalistic style long has been to confer "doctor" only on those holding degrees in medicine and dentistry, and the reason for this was hilariously demonstrated last March when television show hostess Whoopi Goldberg remarked on "The View" that she hoped that if Joe Biden was elected president he would appoint his wife surgeon general.

“She's a hell of a doctor," Goldberg said. "She's an amazing doctor.”

Of course Mrs. Biden has no more qualifications to practice medicine than Goldberg has to pontificate on TV while advertising her ignorance.

The problem is that people generally associate "doctor" with medical authority, so conferring the title on those with other degrees causes misunderstanding.

But with the explosion of what likes to call itself higher education there are now millions of people around the world with non-medical doctorates who like to style themselves "Doctor" to pose or intimidate though their usefulness may be less than that of elevator operators and lamplighters.

The higher education industry long has thrived on this pretension, though elements of the working class quickly caught on to it, as was indicated by an episode of the "Dobie Gillis" television show in the early 1960s.

Having advanced from high school to junior college, Dobie tells his skeptical father, a grocer, why a certain professor is so great: because he has a doctorate, a Ph.D.

Dobie's father asks: "What kind of doctor is that?"

Dobie explains: "You know, Dad - a doctor of philosophy."

Dobie's father knowingly replies: "Oh, yeah - the kind that don't do nobody no good."

Back in the days of "Dobie Gillis" a Connecticut educator of working-class origin, an Army veteran of combat in World War II who never would have gotten to college without the GI Bill, became a Ph.D himself but instead sought to democratize higher education for the working class. He had seen the "doctor" racket up close and he was not too pompous to acknowledge it. He said the title was most useful for getting restaurant reservations.

When beggars die there are no comets seen.

The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes.

As it was in Julius Caesar's time and Shakespeare's, it remains today in Connecticut.

Last week Devon Dalio - eldest son of Connecticut's richest resident, investment fund manager Ray Dalio - was killed in a car crash in Greenwich and it became international news. Governor Lamont issued a statement mourning the loss, since Ray Dalio and his wife, Barbara, are prominent philanthropists and his neighbors in Greenwich.

Three days later the Connecticut Post reported that four young men had been shot at a bar in Bridgeport, two of them fatally. In Waterbury the Republican-American reported that shootings in that city have more than tripled this year and people in some neighborhoods are afraid to go outside. And the Hartford Courant and Journal Inquirer examined the great increase in drug overdose deaths in the state this year.

Neither the governor nor anyone else in authority issued any special lament for these losses. After all, such stuff is all normal now. Its casualties are nobodies, practically beggars, not princes.

Of course some of this social disintegration can be attributed to the virus epidemic and the closing orders that disproportionately impoverish the working class, people less able to work from home. But this disintegration was under way in Connecticut long before the epidemic and state government has undertaken no inquiry into its causes - and isn't likely to do so as long as the people who suffer most from it keep providing the huge pluralities that sustain the power of the oblivious, indifferent, ineffectual, and self-serving.

Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester.

Posted in New Britain Herald, Columns, Editorials on Tuesday, 22 December 2020 19:44. Updated: Tuesday, 22 December 2020 19:46.