Lifting the veil of ignorance (Australian Doctor 28 October 2011)

October 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

This morning I saw a strange dark tonsillar lump. I wanted a photo but couldn’t fathom the practice camera. Neither could the receptionist. A co-worker blamed her blond hair.

My household is currently full of women; six perhaps — it’s hard to keep track. But I do know that none are blondes — mainly because I overhear the occasional comment like “Two blondes walked into a bar. You’d think the second one would have seen it”.

Stupidity does, however, have advantages. For instance, consider that stunningly stupid language called English.

Inane multiple meanings for words like “bar” create humour. Germans, with their more precise language, miss out on this but are compensated by wonderful words. Like Schadenfreude.

According to studies using functional MRI scans, schadenfreude — satisfaction derived from the misfortune of others — is especially seen in males with low self-esteem. The transposition, freudenshade, has been invented in English. It means sorrow at another’s success.

Maybe that’s the problem with the guy who wanders around Wall Street with a one-word placard saying ‘Jump’. Then again, maybe it’s not.

This economic crisis hasn’t seen many bankers jumping. The Western world’s governments, long criticised for incompetency, have been brilliant at privatising profits and socialising losses.

I therefore sympathise with the Occupy <Insert Place Here> movement. Last weekend, I watched videos of events in Melbourne when a violent gang infiltrated the protesters. Luckily they soon left with their weapons, horses and bloodied prisoners.

I dropped in to my local OccupyBrisbane protest the following day. I was signing a petition about excessive resource allocation to the richest 1% when a woman walked up behind me.

She asked the young guy organising the petition what it was about. There was a chilly hostility in her voice and I saw the petition guy flinch. I guess everyone had been nice to him until that point. The protest was a hippy party of love and peace.

I routinely interrupt The Anti-Christ for his signature on a Medicare form, so I decided to handle it. “It’s about inequality,” I said.

This seemed like a good place to start and, surprisingly, she softened. Many people belittle these protests but 99% of the population really will get shafted by the breakdown of global capitalism. John Rawls’ veil of ignorance is being lifted and most of us will be poor.

I wandered into a nearby shop for lunch. In many cities, reduced business for local merchants is cited as the reason for removing demonstrators. I therefore told the shopkeeper my business was due to the demo. Unfortunately she didn’t speak English.

The only time I’ve tried listening to a financial adviser, my ears bled and a kitten died — but failure to heed the experts has thus far served me well. Economists mainly research tomorrow why yesterday’s predictions didn’t happen today.

However, economists are creating better tools. For instance, and I jest not, the current crisis has catalysed development of the Hair Dye Index. Apparently there exists an inverse correlation between economic activity and hair dye use. Especially blond.

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