Amateur Hour

by Jake Block

In America, we’ve always had a fascination with the amateur hour, first on the radio, going all the way back to 1934, with the Major Boles Talent Show, to 1952 with the Ted Mack Talent Show, and then on to various talent competitions on television during the black and white era, up to and including today.
American Idol, The Voice, Dancing With The Stars, Hell’s Kitchen and other talent competitions aside, current TV fare will have you believing that gifted amateurs can easily bypass the effort and skills learned through process, repetition and the constant improving of one’s profession, and take that express pass right to the top of whatever field they choose.  Now, while there have been instances where some highly unique talent, or savant phenom has become preeminent in their field in a relatively short time, but for most, there is a long and tedious path of study, application, repetition and demonstrated and documented excellence before one reaches the top.
On TV, amateurs can be entertaining.  In real life, not so much, and when they try to take control of major financial, commercial, medical, educational, security or… yes… executive concerns that affect not only their lives, but the health, wealth and wellbeing of millions, the outcome is seldom good.  Life is something that needs more hands on control and less theory, conjecture and luck.
Would you trust your appendix operation to someone who says, “Well, I’ve read about it.  It’s a little finger looking thing somewhere in your abdomen on the right.  I’ll just cut you open and yank it out?”  How about a financial representative who says, “Sure!  I can get you this $300,000 house and you won’t have anything to worry about.  You make $25,000 a year!  What could happen?”   Remember when the “bubble” burst?  Those were “professional” loan officers, you say… they were trained!  Maybe.
One of the jobs that I was offered when I retired from the military was being a “loan officer” and “account manager” for a national loan agency moving into our area.  I wouldn’t need any “special training.”  The computer would do all the work.  All I had to do was push the loan products and “get names on the dotted line.”  Now… I can tell you how many planes it takes to move “x number” of troops, equipment, ammunition and support materiel, and I can guide an aircraft into a bare-bones, PSA (perforated steel plate) landing strip, and in an emergency, help defend it as well.  I’ve been trained to do that.  I have an accountant that handles my finances, because I’m limited in that area.  My mediocre math skills are something I deal with, but would you hire me to handle yours?
Amateurs have their place, and it’s not in a position where they can totally fuck up someone’s finances, health or wellbeing.  I give them props for having the chutzpah to think they can handle taking over someone’s life, and you gotta love their gumption.  But THEY can walk away when things go wrong, and their clients (willing victims) can’t.  They bear the pain and suffer the ramifications of another’s incompetence.

With all due respect to Major Boles, Ted Mack, and the entertainment form they created, this is life!  This ain’t no amateur hour.


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