America’s Got No Talent
I never used to enjoy talent shows, but lately, I’ve really gotten into America’s Got Talent. I think the sensitive little guy inside me loves watching truly gifted individuals realize their dreams. That little guy also loves the idea of a show dedicated to finding those special people. Undiscovered, decaying talent hurts society. The irony in the title of the show, however, rests in the fact that, for the most part, America’s got no talent. Worse than merely living in a time of such talent paucity, we live in a time that celebrates and rewards it. Of course, I’m not talking about the finalists on the show, those gifted people deserve all of the success life can provide them; I’m talking about everyone else. Look around, we live in a talentless time in a talentless country.
Let’s start with all of the people on reality shows. What’s their talent? Let me tell you: nothing. Who cares if you can live on an island or in a house or in Jersey? At least the idiots on reality TV are harmless, unlike the talentless hoards running our corporations and government. Never a bastion of meritocracy, at least the Corporate America of yesteryear did reward skill and ability. Even an uneducated glance at corporate balance sheets and profit and loss statements should confirm the mediocre leadership—all obscenely paid for their failures. The problem has reached epidemic levels on Wall Street. I remember, even years ago as a young banker, thinking to myself that the totality of finance knowledge possessed by most of my colleagues could probably fit on the bottom of a teacup. Even as a green, young banker, I think I must have forgotten more about finance than most of my superiors would ever know. Don’t even get me started on the legislators in Sacramento running (excuse me, I added an “n” and forgot the “i”: “ruining”) my country (yes, you read that correctly… I’m a Californian, and we think we are an independent nation state… just go with it).
When did America evolve into a dead pool of mediocrity? Adding insult to injury, when did we decide that we should reward and compensate the talentlessness so handsomely? Worse than not caring, we encourage it. We all make so many choices in our lives. Perhaps we ought to start minding our leadership and spending choices just enough to reward the truly talented, and just possibly disincentivize mediocrity.