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"The Smart Money"

November 5, 2000

Satire by
Lauren Weinstein


Greetings. While watching a major Cable News Network the other night, I saw an anchor proclaim that, in her opinion, many voters didn't seem to like "intelligent" candidates. She remarked that she never liked the smartest kid in her class, and while she had no idea what ever happened to him, she figured maybe he was running some secret CIA operation or some such, in other words, engaged in subterfuge of one sort or another.

I found this attitude fascinating. I decided to consult a well-known expert in the human-relations field, Marvin K. Brillstone, author of "Loving to Hate: A How-To Guide" (Mangled Press, 1998).

"Of course everyone hates smart people!" Marvin said. "It's the natural order, and you'd expect it to extend to the political realm."

"But wouldn't we still be living in caves without intelligence? Remember the apes and the black monolith in '2001'?" I asked.

"I didn't say we don't need smart people, just that it's normal to hate them! Look, think back to school. If it hadn't been for the smart jerks, my 40% test scores could have gotten 'A' grades! Smart students ruin the grading curves, so of course it's normal for the other students to make the grade-wreckers' lives as miserable as possible."

"That hardly seems fair," I said.

"Nobody ever said life was fair," said Marvin. "I'll give you another example. Who were the most popular characters on the old 'Andy Griffith' TV show?"

"Uh, Andy and Barney?"

"BUZZZ! Wrong! I've studied this in depth. The favorites were Otis the town drunk and Goober -- the guy at the gas station. Neither of them were exactly towering intellects."

"That doesn't really prove anything," I said. "Look, there are smart people who get plenty of respect. What about Bill Gates? Polls show him as being one of the most respected people in the country."

"You mean Bill 'Computer Whiz' Gates? Did you ever use any of the software that he actually wrote himself? Never mind. Look, the reason people respect Gates is that he has lots of money! It doesn't matter if you're a genius or an empty-headed dummy if you have a bankroll. People respect you for the thickness of your wallet. Size does matter!"

"So you're saying that if you have a lot of money, intelligence doesn't count much?"

"Bingo! And nobody really cares how you got the money! Whether you earned it yourself through ruthless business practices or just lucked out and were born into a rich family, it's only the grand total that gets the attention. Of course, if you're not very smart and you have money, that's all the better if you're running for office! So keep the brains, I'll take the cash every time! And most voters feel the same way."

"Pretty depressing, Marvin. But I appreciate your insight. Thank you for taking the time to chat with me."

"No problem, Lauren -- I hated every minute of it."

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Lauren Weinstein

For information about the author, please see: http://www.vortex.com/lauren

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