Roger B. Burt’s Newsletter

 

A Marvelous Set of Possibilities

The day to day news has been increasingly alarming recently. But from time to time we get some wonderful and hopeful perspectives pointing toward a truly important and positive way forward.

Such is the case with the publication of The Great Pivot by Justine Burt.

Available now on Amazon.

Our Potential

There is growing agreement that climate change offers not just challenge but peril. And along comes this book which presents us with ways forward. And it is not just what we might do but it details how we can respond in a very constructive way.

The Great Pivot is remarkably detailed and I recommend it. It is not a dreamy Saturday morning read but very rewarding as it offers us details about how to proceed toward green solutions. The book is of special interest to policymakers and job creators but is also of interest to all of us.

The author is my daughter, but I’m focusing on it in this newsletter because of the import of the book. As part of my work as a psychologist I spent many years evaluating people for vocational rehabilitation. There is great good news. High tech green jobs can be done by the very people who are presently being displaced. I won’t go into all the details but, for example, as jobs in coal decline, the very people displaced can actually move on to new technology in the green economy.

A Brighter Future Than Many Believe

I’ll stop there. The book is fascinating and points to a bright future, not in an overheated planet but of technological wonder and promise of a productive future even for the people who are presently seeing their future darken. Take a look and let it brighten your day.

Roger B. Burt, author of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy

Coming soon – Book 2: Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise

Introducing the Women of the Andromeda

 

They Came and Conquered

In the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy the Andromeda women are the women who are the defense force for the Tethyan people. They were not in the initial construct of the series, but showed up demanding not just attention, but place. Their role kept expanding and evolving.

They Are Real!

We’ve all heard of the Amazon warrior women. Were they real or a mythological construct? It didn’t matter. I wanted warrior women in the story. Were they real and did they live along the Amazon River in Brazil as the name might suggest?  No. 

And then I ran across the book The Amazons by Adrienne Mayor. What I found was an amazing encyclopedia—a life’s work in some ways. She opened my eyes and gave an additional perspective on the role of women in the world. Fascinating.

The Reality Expanded

The Amazon women fundamentally are from the region called Sythia which was a territory stretching “from the Black Sea to the Adriatic Sea (northern Greece, European Turkey southwestern Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, and former Yugoslavia” The warrior women are also found in the Steppes into Asia. These areas were inhabited by nomadic and seminomadic people who fought among themselves and were involved in changing alliances. While there is no perfect clarity in this fraught region, the women were often referred to as Amazons. Yes, they were warriors and fought fiercely 

alongside their men.

Ancient Essential Equality

In so many of these tribes the women had remarkable equality to live, love and die in battle. There was evidence of free sex and it seemed that paternity was not at issue. Life could be short, brutal and, it seemed, exciting. It was a challenging environment where survival was at issue. Does paternity as an issue fade away when there is nothing to inherit as there might not be in these tribes? The continuity and survival of the tribe was the primary issue.

Prejudice against women is an issue in today’s world. The ancient world too had deep prejudice about Amazon women in some of their societies. In ancient Greece, for example, women were subjugated at home. In the Greek tales of their heroes these men went to war against the Amazon women. 

Another World to the North and East

Among the Sythian tribes women were equalized and went to war. One of the reasons was their management of horses. In today’s horse culture we still see women prominently. One suspicion was that horses respond better to a woman’s less confrontational approach. Women also were at no disadvantage at all on horseback and so did well in battle. Since archery on horseback was common, women could easily and effectively participate. And it seems that iron weaponry was first developed among these people and the women put these weapons to good use.

Prejudice in the ancient world was just as widespread as presently. Interestingly the term Barbarian, which we take as a negative, referred to anyone who didn’t speak ancient Greek.

Extensive History

In history women often fought alongside the men. In the TV series The Vikings we see the Shield Maidens standing in battle along side their men. Warrior women were prominent in the Middle East and all the way into China. In India and China in the martial arts the battles were often fought without weapons and women could participate and triumph.

Forgive me for not being more definitive. The stories are long and the information is detailed. There are very few universals to lend simplicity. I recommend Mayor’s book for detailing of all kinds. It goes deep into myths, ancient stories, even to such things as who invented trousers, sagas, tattooing and on and on.

The import of the book to me was that it speaks to the reality of women and cultural differences. It is illuminating and liberating. 

They Came and Conquered

And then there is the matter of my choosing to have warrior women in the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy. I did most of the writing before I found Mayor’s book. It reinforced my choice to include these talented, smart and brave women who stood for the defense of their people and ultimately the future of humankind. Interestingly I chose to have them evolve through the series and Mayor’s book supports such an involvement.

I’ll be blogging more about the Andromeda women. Early on I thought they would be useful for the plot, but found my feminist leaning led to a steady increase in their part in the story. I’ll be commenting on their role but also be blogging about stories related to individual women.

What I love more than anything is that currently I’m seeing illumination and empowerment of women in all regards. It is not just right and not just time, but as in the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy it may well lead us to an enhanced future. 

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Chasing El Chapo

Now that the election is over, how about another change of focus. Now that the shouting is over for awhile we need to focus on many ongoing needs

How important did you think El Chapo was?

Stay Tuned!

El Chapo was a celebrity drug lord. In the news constantly, he showed the extent of his power by who he corrupted and how he escaped. A long television program was devoted to his most recent escapades and recapture. At the conclusion of the show I did not feel like celebrating. All I could feel was “what a waste”.

Chasing Illusive Suppliers

Once again we had wasted huge resources chasing a criminal. Year in and year out we spend billions in this form of “The War on Drugs”. And right behind El Chapo stands a long line of men ready to take his place. We did nothing to stop this trafficking. It makes headlines but little more.

Lack of Vision

It seems we have learned nothing. And it all demonstrates a monumental lack of vision. Our first prohibition was a failure. The supposedly noble effort to end the use of alcohol led to the creation of a large network of criminal gangs which then metastasized into many other illegal enterprises. Then we did it again with the second failed prohibition of the more recent war on drugs. We decimated vulnerable citizens with invasive searches to find small quantities of drugs, gave them long sentences  and swelled our prison population for 1 million to 2.4 million while we destroyed the future of young minority men and the hopes of their families. At last we are bringing that under control and must now contend with healing the wounds created in police/community relations.

Facing Reality

So what are we to do? Drug use is a complicated matter whether you look at the numerous suppliers and profiteers or the victims in the form of users. We do not spend adequately to create the range and levels of treatment programs. What I learned as a clinical consultant in a drug program is that there needs to be a range of flexible options to help move people toward stability. They are probably not mentally ill but more likely disadvantaged in many different forms. They need help rebuilding lives, fighting addiction, gaining job skills and on and on.

It Isn’t Dramatic

But there is a broader front which is often called prevention and includes social intervention. We had  another very damaging drug called tobacco which we fought and it taught us lessons. These kinds of problems do not lend themselves to short term or easy solutions. 

It Is Multilayered

Anyone who has been through addiction knows the complexity. I wrestled with my nicotine addiction and was working on quitting (for the umpteenth time) when I received painful and unexpected help. Someone drove his SUV in my driver’s door and I was flown into Shock Trauma. They do not pass out cigarettes in the intensive care unit. I don’t recommend that solution but it helped.

Overall addictions in general represent a long road including prevention, incentives to quit, changes in social attitudes. We spent decades in campaigns against smoking and the results are interesting. We have decreased usage and have in place social restraints and legal restraints regarding availability of purchase and acceptability. We are now beginning the same process with marijuana. 

Social Commitment

Where are the ad campaigns regarding all forms of drug use and abuse? They are few in number and rarely heard. Where are the social sanctions and attitude statements about not using drugs. Television is flooded with ads for big pharma products with notations of often terrible side effects but the campaign to reduce drug abuse is almost nowhere to be seen or heard.

The lessons from the war on drugs, from our interdiction efforts and what happened with tobacco is clear. We need a great deal more efforts on prevention, treatment and tending to social attitudes. It will not stop overnight but we can make a significant difference. 

What have you found to be effective?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Our New Age Blossoming – 2

 

Looking Back

It is now over 50 years later than when I went to work in Baltimore. For me time offers not perspective as much as confirmation. The only perspective I find is that I can now clearly see the roots of my deep mistrust of the truth and wisdom of older white men. In fairness there is diversity among them but in our present age the fact of their rule is distressing in so many regards.

Designing a Delivery System

The community mental health movement came with a multi-part design. I was stationed in an outpatient facility which meant I was to consult with the community and deliver services. That seems simple enough. Go out and get acquainted so you get referrals and then give therapy with the psychiatrists giving medication as necessary. What fools we mortals be!

What we found immediately was that we had a lot of learning to do. The community was challenging to put it mildly. They were in serious need and mental health services were not at the top of their list.

The Existing System

There already was a mental health system in place. At the hospital nearby people could come for service. Since it was a medical school there were medical students who often were giving service in six week rotations—with little prior experience. Then there were residents. I’ll save you the agony of all the details but they were not acquainted with the needs of the community either and so could not respond effectively.

At the time psychiatric residents were committed to giving intensive psychotherapy. The local residents were not exactly candidates so they often simply got medication. We immediately found a fundamental truth. The biggest enemy of mental health in the area was the stress of poverty. So they suffered from depression and anxiety. Duh!!!

The System We Designed

Each of us took a morning walk-in clinic. We assessed the person’s problems and then spent the afternoon on the phone arranging appropriate services and getting information about availability among a lot of other things. For example, if they had a physically ill child who was not getting service or inappropriate service we sought appropriate help. Every center had a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor who got a lot of referrals. Very many of these people needed training and/or education. A job or a better job had a very beneficial effect on their mental health along with the experience of hope.

Not So Simple

Did we have the support of higher ups? Sometimes, but often not. The older white men generally wanted to preserve the existing system and were primarily interested in the aura of getting the money for a grant to a new glamorous type of program. They loved the aura and wanted to look good to each other. Daily we were in the position of fending off orientations and demands which did not serve our community well. One of my common responses was “We’ll get back to you” or ”Let me look at alternatives.”

Allies With the Community

We  had to develop relationships with the community so we could respond to their real needs. In that era of the beginning of the civil right movement the community became contentious and interesting. Assertions of community needs and objections to the mistreatment of black men began at that time. There were issues about health services. At one point growing activism led to a difficult public hearing and I found myself sitting next to the state head of the mental health system who was clueless. Other times we were visited by arrogant “consultants” from Washington who we had to endure. 

I’ll leave it there for now. It was rough and tumble and never-ending as we fought for the people of the community. You might think we would have had allies from the professions but they were too often few and far between.

Another Major Wave of Change

In some ways we didn’t understand what we were seeing either. In the end the establishment brought down the community mental health movement. As the young rebels left, the clinics in the community were closed and the old ways resumed. I tell the full story in my book Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health.

But two things came out of the era that proved to have a long wave and import for our future. One was the civil rights movement and in the next post I’ll go into the other one. 

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

The New Millenials

 

What is your age group called?

Making Noise

I’m from what is called the Silent Generation but it seems I can’t keep quiet. My commitment now is to an entirely different generation. They are called the Millenials. Once upon a time I was of that age and the cadre I traveled with was not so silent. So let me speak in behalf of the Millenials.

A common viewpoint is that age brings wisdom. Seriously? I am not impressed by the evidence to support that contention. Experience, perhaps. Wisdom. Not so much.

The Wisdom at Awakening

I was to learn about wisdom. When I was hired for my first job after I got my Ph.D. at Duke I went to Baltimore in 1967. The community mental health movement sounded interesting and groundbreaking. Using a public health model, we were to bring mental health services to all the people of our country. Nice try!

Then came the awakening I could never have expected. To be blunt, effective leadership was lacking. Or at least their concept of leadership was a foreign language to the twenty somethings on the line of delivery. We huddled as we developed services and were not impressed by the seniors. Our particular unit was headed by a psychiatrist (of course!) and he was fairly clueless in our estimate.

Dedicated to a Mission

The people who had hired us made a significant error. They hired young people who loved new ventures. We were dedicated and could think. Bad. Bad!

Now granted, many of us were finding our way into a new field of endeavor. They called it mental health but it was being done differently. Or at least we wanted to do it differently. We were a diverse lot. Many of us banded together while some others chose different courses. One of the early radicals later became a dedicated creature of the establishment. One other fellow was fired. (An appropriate term because he became a radical who engaged in arson.)

Frequently the young staff went off the radar and developed new slants and we really, really got into the community. We even managed to engineer the hiring of people from the community we served so they could work with us.

Dedication Versus a Form of Venality

What’s the bottom line? We developed a very effective system for intervention, responded to the needs of these impoverished people and learned effective means of passive aggressing the establishment rather than engaging in confrontation so that we could deliver truly effective services.

The powers that were wanted not be disturbed, assumed obedience by their lesser colleagues, lived for status, wanted continuity of the established system, reveled in the status afforded by a new type of grant and wished unfettered use of the money. We wanted an effective mission.

In the end the establishment won. Yes, some of the hires from the community actually retired form the jobs which was an enduring victory of sorts. But, in the end, the services were sabotaged.

Bonding With and Empowering the Millenials

What did we learn? A great deal. We learned how to deliver truly effective services to an impoverished community and allied ourselves with them. And one of the things I learned is that we need to listen to and engage the young people now called the Millenials. Our current young adults have been dismissed as not interested in what needs to be done politically and otherwise. My brushes with them suggest something different. Look at who was standing in line in Wisconsin to vote. Millennials! And now look at who is fighting for effective gun control!

They are there. Many are quietly angry and frustrated. Only now are they beginning to show up on the streets. We need to recognize them and that this is their future and we old farts need to form a union with them. The coming demographic changes of all sorts are in our favor and we can win this fight. Now we need to band firmly with the Millenials.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

My Personal Reactions

 

( Look at the faces of the Mom’s in the picture! Fabulous.)

My Personal Reactions

Why I’m Devoted to Empowerment

I’m offended and have been offended. What men have been doing has been putting many different kinds of pressures on other men which actually has the effect of suppressing their potentials as well. And then when you open partnership you find the potentials are multiplied in everything from our love life, our commitments, our children and each other in education and business. We have a remarkable opportunity.

As I said, early on I was attracted to the promise of women’s liberation as it was called in the 1960s. As soon as Gloria Steinem’s Ms. Magazine came out my wife and I subscribed. I had to ask myself why I cared. It proved to be a difficult question to answer. But some incidents proved intriguing.

A Boy Looking at Men

There was a day when I was perhaps nine years old and was standing on a baseball diamond watching two other boys at home plate arguing with each other over whether one was out or safe. It seemed interminable and finally I tucked my ball glove under my arm and walked away—never to come back. Part of the problem was that I was a card carrying intuitive type who dreamed out the window and sought novelty and intrigue. That ball game offered none of those things.

I also remembered college football games. At the University of Michigan the cheerleaders were male only. (How boring.) We lost some games and won some. I just couldn’t care that much. In some ways I was an outcast in the male culture. At last I went to a basketball game thinking I probably should get involved if only as an observer. “Wow he just got two points.” Other end of the court, “Wow he just got two points.” And so on back and forth until — wow he didn’t get two points. I finally had to ask myself why I was there. I wasn’t very competitive and didn’t have a lot of talent for sports. I didn’t have good balance and so as a child I was a stick who fell over.

Seeing Novelty and Potential

Other avenues in life always called out to me. And some of those avenues were in the world that included girls where I saw potential and diversity.

Later in life I found myself studying men in the workplace and found many men lacking in vision who were imposing their power on others. All male meetings were often stultifying as men talked sports and patted each other on the back. When a woman joined in we got much more done. Quite a revelation.

Personality Directing My Search

And again I have to say my personality led me to seek discovery and to search for potential. Increasingly I found those things in relation to women. How could I not be involved in supporting their future.

I’ll leave it there for now. Much of the male culture was simply not attractive to me but it deserves considerable evaluation as we move forward into what I believe is a new and wonderful era.

Let me hear your thoughts! roger.burt@earthlink.net

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Coming in January – A Call for the Masculinism Movement

Entering a New Age

With the new year I’m going to begin a new series which is about what I’m calling the Masculinism Movement. (Hear the echoes of the words Feminism Movement.) The Women’s Liberation Movement in the 1960s opened with women coming together in groups to evaluate their positions and their way forward. Now that we are entering a period where we look toward full empowerment of women, it’s time for men to come together in groups to assess the male culture and to own how they have been. The recent cresting of sexual harassment allegations are instructive but are only one facet of problems in the male culture. The proposed Masculinism Movement is not a movement to empower men. It is a movement in which men assess themselves and assess what has been holding them back in general and especially in regard to women.

As women are empowered, we have the opportunity for them to fulfill their full potential. And now men need to face themselves and find a way to fulfill their full potential. Yes, the male culture and the attitudes of men are often holding them back from fulfilling their potential and the potential of all of us. And we now have the opportunity to seize that most fruitful partnership we can have with women and the bounty it can yield for all of us.

For now, through the holidays, I’m going to suspend posting. People get busy with family and holiday preparations and celebration. I’ll be back at the beginning of January with continuing series and the new series especially for and about men.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

The Caribbean Tragedy

They’re Here At Las

Those of us who aren’t climate change deniers have been wondering when our number would come up for a major damaging hurricane. Well, it wasn’t one, it was three. The damage has been terrible and there is now years of hard work ahead. What has happened in the United States is tragic, but it is even worse in the Caribbean.

Breathtaking Reports

Looking at the damage in the Virgin Islands and neighboring islands is frightful but, for me, there is another dimension. It grows out of my experience in the Caribbean.

In 1990 we opened a home in St. Lucia, one of the windward islands. It stood on the top of a hill with a 250 elevation above the sea. Of course we got insurance but declined “overage from the sea” coverage. A storm surge to 250 feet was unlikely. Wind damage was another matter.

We looked deep into the history of hurricanes on the island. It turns out that St. Lucia was just below the hurricane belt. They had had a hurricane 100 years ago and only an occasional tropical disturbance since with no major damage.

Then Came a Hurricane

One time we were in the house and got word that a major hurricane was hurtling toward us and was coming past the island of Barbados. It seemed likely it would go between the southern part of St. Lucia and St. Vincent. That would have put us on the more damaging side of the hurricane. We prepared for the worst and hunkered down in a windowless concrete outbuilding and waited. The winds grew much more intense and then died off.

Later we learned the specifics. Some island friends of ours (travel agents) had been given a cruise and they were just off Barbados as the storm came in. The ship fled West and turned due north past Martinique. So did the hurricane and followed them up on the other side of Martinique. It’s not easy to go between all islands so the ship traveled north dogged by the hurricane. At last they could turn west near the Virgin islands and the storm plowed into those islands.

Then There Was Reality

Our friends were horrified by the complaints of the passengers who wanted to get off and go shopping. The news from St. Thomas was that there was no news. All communications and all power were gone. Later they learned that the island had been crushed by the storm.

And here is the meaning of this post. We think of the Caribbean as a paradise for vacations. There are villas for wealthy people and a glorious life style. But, when these kinds of storms hit, the true devastation is for the ordinary people of these islands. Foreign homeowners can take a pass on visiting that year or even next but the local people, who are anything but wealthy, have to rebuild their lives.

We Must Not Forget Them

In this time of tragedy we are looking at Florida and Texas with occasional mention of the devastated Caribbean Islands. It is not easy for these people to get supplies. There are no roads to the islands. And they had little if any wealth to help them recover. Some are lucky and have the United States or Britain to send aid. Others have no such resources.

In the months ahead we need to pay attention regarding word of their needs. We need to take advantage of possibilities to contribute as they try to rebuild their lives. The tourists are gone for the foreseeable future but the local people will struggle on and will need our help. We also have to be aware that governments will handle the near term needs but the recovery will go on long after. It is then that the contributions from the public at large will be essential.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

How Are You America? Pt. 5

Focusing the Way Ahead

How distressed are you about where we are as a country?

Two Sides to the Coin

On the one hand our country is doing fairly well. Unemployment is low and there seems to be optimism in the business community where profitability and stock prices are rising. On the other hand we are mired in partisan politics and obstruction. And it is the later that should give us substantial pause because the world is changing fast and there are increasing number of people who are left behind and being left vocationally isolated. The clock is ticking.

In “mental health” we tend to focus on pathology rather than addressing life management and what that it entails. We too often look at disability rather than need, change and adaptability. In so many areas there is a lack of vision. In opioid addiction we look at the addiction and fail to focus on the condition which led to the addiction in the first place. It is still there are needs to be addressed. The list of issues is long.

Making a Beginning

Little is heard about an assessment. In the largest picture it is apparent that capitalism is changing and there is a talk of the postcapitalism society. In fact though, we are not clear what that means or entails.

In specific issues such as coal we are failing to face the challenge. Renewable energy is becoming steadily less costly but it seems we are intent on not facing the effects of what has come before.

Detroit is diversifying and we see, in the past decades, what happens when we fail to face change. Our auto industry had serous challenges and the response came late.

It seems we may have two countries. The country which is thriving and the county peopled by people who get no assistance to foster necessary changes. These are the left behinds.

Making An Assessment

We have a choice to make. We can stay mired in this tiresome conflict or we can face and be energized by the challenges. Challenges can be fascinating and thrilling. Energy can be generated and the fact is that the problems we face can be challenged and affected. But we have to examine them, come together to seek mutually acceptable solutions. This is a time for liberals and conservatives to meet. Liberals can bring ideas to help us move forward and conservatives can bring a perspective of the need for functional and reasonable efforts. No one needs to be reckless and no one needs to be stuck in the mud.

Change

Change is not always easy and challenges can be difficult particularly if we fight each other. But people can change and solutions can be found. Part of it involves seeking perspective and using vision to explore possibilities.

America has a unique and interesting history. The people who came here were people who accepted challenge. Settling here was not easy and involved risk but one thing is clear, the people who came were venturesome, sought vision and faced challenges with solutions. These are traits which are passed down and those traits and the people are still with us. We just need to start exploring, setting goals and getting to work.

Where would you like to begin?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

How Are You America – Part 4

 

What Is Intelligence?

First lets address the issue of intelligence which in some ways relates to job skills. I say in some ways because job skills also reflect personality and interest patterns. One definition of intelligence is “the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills” – whatever that means. What it has often meant was the score received on an intelligence test.

The most commonly used tests when I was doing testing was the Wechsler which was available for adults and children. These tests had originally been developed because people wanted ways to assess scholastic ability. Up to a point it served its purpose. Over time we also used it to assess if there were learning disabilities. Again, up to a point it helped.

Another matter is what kind of intelligence a person has. Some people are highly analytical, some suppositories of information and some can regurgitate material fed to them without any true understanding of its meaning. The latter are sometimes found among people who graduate from respected institutions but, to be blunt, seem stupid.

I think you get the point. It is highly variable and discussion cannot be simplistic if the aim is to design a remedial system.

In What We Call the Real World

The point here is to not do an in-depth presentation about intelligence. In fact, the point relates to the changes needed in our society to prepare people for the employment future. And there is evidence of that future changing rapidly.

The Wechsler tests were designed with a Verbal and a Performance section. Verbal suggests what the word means and relates most closely to academic abilities. But they also included Performance which generally seemed to reflect abilities of “working class” people. A plumber needs different abilities from an accountant.

The conventional, professional wisdom was that if the Verbal I.Q. was 20 points below the Performance I.Q. meant there was a learning disability. Well, not quite. I tested people from all walks of life and often found that discrepancy. But gradually I came to see something. The people with higher Performance skills often came from working class households. In fact what I was seeing was a pattern of talent not disability. Such a perception was very useful when job issues were considered.

The point is that we cannot approach the future of our workforce in a limited fashion.

Vocational Rehabilitation and Vocational Change

Vocational rehabilitation is at issue for a variety of reasons. People get injured in a variety of ways and need to be retrained so they can be productively employed. But we had to play some games. The counselors often came to me saying they needed a disability to develop a retraining program which they could pay for. One of the things that meant was that I had to define a disability for women who were getting a divorce and had not worked outside the home previously.

Yikes! I knew exactly what they meant. Sometimes people suddenly have a change in their lives which needs to be addressed and they may not have the expertise or money to pay for it. So we went to work.

But, of course, there are other kinds of disabilities and needs for retraining as we are presently experiencing. Job categories disappear or shrink and we have to figure out what to do with the people who are no longer needed.

But something unfortunate happened. At one point when budgets were constricting. the rehab people had to work harder to justify what they were doing and they turned to the severely disabled. Sometimes that mean spending a lot of money on people who showed little if any promise for employment.

That is just one story. What we have to do is adapt to change in productive ways.

Designing for the Future

Our national dialogue in many matters is being shaped by partisan and idealogical conflict. What we really need in a society which is facing rapid change is an eyes wide open exploration of what the people in our society need.

One of the things I saw was that the people with Performance abilities had an interesting set of abilities which might not need to be applied in plumbing or electrical work. In fact, if we broaden our scan we see that their abilities can be applied in information technology work in an office. But what we need to do now is to evaluate our viewpoint and begin to study how we can approach the needs of people to be employed in the postcapitalism world. We need vision, flexibility and new thinking.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt