Thursday, April 21, 2011

I'm sorry, Mrs. Palin. You've failed your test.

Since the glow still hasn't ebbed from my daughter's cheeks since passing her driver's test on Tuesday, I've been pondering the preponderance of exams in our culture.

Tests are a huge part of life. My children test me, I test my wife, and, since she often describes me as a testee, she must apparently test me, as well.

Ever since the great George W. Bush left in his chunky wake the unfunded mandate known as "No Child Left Behind," our kids must spend hundreds of hours preparing for and taking standardized exams in order to graduate from high school.

I learned back in college that nearly every profession contains barriers to entry, to keep the riffraff out, and more importantly, to create scarcity and higher earning potential.

For example, even though I earned a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration, I still sat through a three-day CPA examination. Attorneys must complete the LSAT before acceptance to their law schools, and then pass state bar exams to practice law.

And I won't even venture to guess the amount of obstacles a human being must overcome to place the title, "MD," after his or her John or Joan Hancock.

So, here's my question: Why aren't society's decision makers, those whose yeas and nays determine our futures, required to pass even rudimentary exams to be qualified for their profession? I could just hear Donald Trump saying, "The younga, the betta," when asked to recite the minimum voting age.

How do you think our presidential candidates might fare if given the same test administered every year to thousands of hopeful new United States citizens? I'm going to go ahead and say, "Not well."

And I realize this is low-hanging fruit, but what if Sarah Palin where asked some of the typical questions given on the U.S. Naturalization Exam? Let's listen in, shall we?

Question #1: What did the Emancipation Proclamation accomplish?

Candidate Palin: Well, golly, it was one of our country's darkest hours. I'm not sure of the date, but making emancipation legal was the onramp to Hell's interstate. Thank the Lord Todd and I were able to steer Bristol clear of any services provided by Planned Parenthood, such as birth control or, God, forbid, emancipation! Now I've got one, or, depending on who you believe, two grand babies to show for it!

Answer to Question #1: The Emancipation Proclamation outlawed slavery and actually freed many slaves.

Question #2: Who helped the pilgrims when they first arrived on our shores?

Candidate Palin: I don't know, but it was probably the same type of administration that allows millions of gardeners, including mine, to pass over our borders illegally.

Answer to Question #2: Native Americans helped the pilgrims.

Question #3: What do the stripes on the flag mean?

Candidate Palin: Oh, gosh, I don't know, but I really wish Betsy Ross hadn't designed that gull durn thing with stripes. Any time I stand in front of it, it clashes with most Chanel prints I happen to be wearin'. 

Answer to Question #3: The stripes represent the original thirteen states.

Question #4: What are the three branches of the federal government?

Candidate Palin: Okay I've gotcha on this one! I've been studyin'. They are as follows: the judicious, the vegetative and the executory. Come on, now. Challenge me!

Answer to Question #4: The three branches of the federal government are the judiciary, legislative and executive.

Question #5: What is the name of the Presidential residence?

Candidate Palin: Umm...duh...that would be the White House. But it's not exactly very white right now, if you know what I mean (she's winking).

Answer to Question #5: The White House is the Presidential residence.

Question #6: Who would assume Presidential duties if the President and Vice President were to die?

Candidate Palin: Okay, I'm just going to throw this out there, but I think it would be our previous President, George W. Bush. Todd always keeps his old bathrobe around in case something happens to his new one, so I would think Presidents would be handled the bathrobe way. Next question!

Answer to Question #6: The Speaker of the House would assume Presidential duties.

Now that I've gone through this exercise, I truly believe it makes sense to test these polished, orange-skinned, out-of-touch trust fund kids who call themselves public servants.

Who's with me?

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