They’ve Given You a Number and Taken Away Your name

In the Johnny Rivers song Secret Agent Man, there’s a line “they’ve given you a number and taken away your name.” Last weekend I heard about a similar kind of number. It’s the Global Assessment of Functioning This scale of 1 to 100 is included in the DSM IV used by clinicians. The people scoring the lowest are increasingly delusional and at extreme risk of  harming  themselves or others.

This tool is increasingly popular in use. For instance the US military is testing soldiers to help weed out soldiers who may be unfit for duty. I have suggested that the the military stop conducting unnecessary and illegal wars which stress out soldiers and civilians. These demands were summarized in our slogan from the 1960?s “Make Love Not War.”

There are some other interesting numbers that may relate to global functioning. What is the black unemployment rate by year in America? According to CNN,  it was the highest in 27 years. What if we had taken a fraction of that money we gave  to  carry out these wars and spent it helping people re-enter  the job market? Isn’t it possible that some of those people who scored in  the 40?s and 50?s would have improved their functioning?

Another number we should know is the black graduation rate from high school. I have encouraged black peers to return to school and get jobs  and a few of them have taken my advice. They paid attention to the scores on the GED tests and they reflected their pride in their smiles.

I believe that our global functioning changes daily. I’ve never seen the number that was assigned to me and I  don’t think it would offer much insight. These numbers can be affected  by government use or misuse of resources. If you have grown up in an area with wealthy schools, you will be at the top of that scale and any other scale we have in this society.

We must understand that these scales are merely snapshots of how you were at any given day but they are not predictors. You might encounter a peer specialist who helps you to change. You  might see a friend who has seized an opportunity and gone far beyond the barriers that were erected. We must work globally to assess the functioning of our government to reduce the amount of money wasted until we get the kind of government that we deserve. When we get there, I’d like to play in that number.

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