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Latarski: People in authority should take competency tests
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Just in case you missed this, a study conducted by a psychologist at Cornell University determined incompetent people are too stupid to know they are incompetent.

Well, duh!

The study noted that most people tend to rate themselves smarter than they are and during the testing process, even on topics the test subjects acknowledged they knew nothing about, they would consistently declare they did better than average.

In most cases they did far below average and in a twisted reality their lack of expertise or experience in a field rendered them unable to grasp the fact they were wholly inadequate or incompetent.

It is unknown how many people from Washington, radio talk shows or television reality programs may have taken part in this study but you have to think it was funded by a guvmint grant.

Nevertheless, it may have come out at just the right time in order to give us a better understanding of the political winds blowing around us.

Again and again we hear politicians make statements presented as fact - sometimes bold, sometimes outlandish, sometimes just plain stupid - but now we have evidence to suggest our leaders are not necessarily lying swine but simply too incompetent and dumb to know what they are saying.

When we hear a politician from one side talk about how a piece of legislation will really help the working middle class while a politician from the other side rants about how that same legislation will do the same people great harm, we can take comfort in the fact they are both wrong because neither one of them likely knows anything about the middle class.

Thanks to this study when someone in Washington talks about cutting, increasing, utilizing or standing down the military and the closest they have ever been to anyone in uniform is watching a John Wayne movie, we will now be able to appreciate their lack of knowledge and incompetence.

The level of competency can become a point of pride, like the expert in foreign policy who can identify Italy and France on a map without confusing the two.

And naturally we have the high level appointed guvmint potentate who is considered an "expert" because he has known the right people for years and keeps getting appointed to top jobs with nice titles and fat paychecks, and it is only after something bad happens we find out the bum never knew what he was doing to begin with.

You might remember Michael Brown, the point man in charge at FEMA following Hurricane Katrina who bungled his job to the point he forgot to turn on the television to find out what everyone else already knew.

But government is not the only area where this happens. Look how many major corporations cashier big time CEOs brought in to make thing all better because the person was one of the best and brightest.

The ex-CEOs may be massively incompetent but never stupid because they usually leave with a huge severance package they did nothing to earn. We can now tell youngsters it is absolutely true crime does not pay but incompetence can have its own rewards.

The study did note that some stupid people are not necessarily incompetent. The mechanic working on your car or pilot flying the plane may be dumb as a brick but wonderfully competent when it comes to repairing bricks or landing a plane.

There are times competency can trump brains.

Our elected leaders and those who wish to be should not shy away from this study but embrace it with full vigor.

They can look in the camera now and say with pride they simply did not know what they were doing.
When we ask, "Why did you do that?" the response will be, "'Cause I just don't know no better."

Bless their hearts.

This will be the Gomer defense and the idea is you can't get mad at Gomer because he was just doing the best he could no matter how bad things turned out.

Maybe before we vote for anyone or before anyone is placed in a position of authority we should have them take the test utilized in the study to see if they think highly of themselves even if they have no idea what they are talking about.

Come to think of it, that might only encourage some of them to run.


Ric Latarski is a freelance writer who writes on a variety of topics and can be reached at