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Editorial: Continuing Education


Continuing Education

There is something weird going on.

As I look back on my life and career as an actuary, I wonder how things can be getting more complicated–as they seem to be getting–instead of simpler. Whatever happened to entropy? Somehow, between my graduating from college and then getting my FSA, the second Law of thermodynamics has stopped working.

Entropy, of course, is the measurement of disorder or randomness in the universe and it has, according to the second Law, a propensity to increase as time passes. I equate randomness and disorder to simplicity. If you could see my office you'd know what entropy looks like and what the simple life is all about. And yet occasionally, sometimes with prompting, I get in the mood to clean things up a bit and get organized–thus reducing entropy and going against the laws of nature. Why is that?

How is it that the archetypical wise old man can look the young person, still finding his or her way in the world, in the eyes and say, "I have already forgotten more than you'll ever know, grasshopper," and still be considered wise–if not for entropy? I want to be that wise old man. I want to start forgetting things. But, instead, I've got a force called Continuing Education pounding a drum in my closet. You too, I bet. It can get a little annoying. And, it gets worse when it comes out of the closet as it has done.

As you are racking up CE hours so that you can express a professional opinion, doesn't it just burn you up that there are opinionated people who just go on and on and on? Wouldn't it be wonderful if there were Qualification Standards that they had to follow? Family, friends, neighbors, television pundits, politicians should all be held to such a higher standard. Conspiracy theories would fade into the void of entropic space–oblivion. And, diseases, the medications used to treat them, and the three and four letter acronyms used to describe them would recede to more manageable numbers–like it was in the old days.

And what if Qualification Standards of some sort and CE requirements did apply to everyone? Well, I can tell you that the world, indeed the universe, would be a better and, dare I say, much cooler place. Think of it, there would be no fibromyalgia and no Lyrica required to treat it at $2 to $3 per pill. ADD (or ADHD) would be recognized as nothing more than an example of the great variety found within human kind. I could, for example, forget or not care to proofread this editorial with no fear of being rushed off to an emergency room for acute ADHD.

The Manic Street Preachers, a Welsh rock band dating from the early 1990s, in a cry (I like to think) for more entropy wrote a song titled, "Another Invented Disease." The chorus goes, "We need and we will always need another invented disease; we need and we are taught to need another invented disease." What more do you need to hear? A rock group gets it. It's now up to you. Embrace Qualification Standards and required CE. If those principles become a way of life, they will improve you, your profession, and reduce health care costs in the universe.

Tom Bakos
Contributing Editor