A long time ago, in a solar system far, far away, there was a planet that very much resembled our third rock from the sun. On that planet was a group of professionals, let's call them Knights, who treated the inhabitants' choppers. Every inhabitant of that planet usually had 32 choppers, and so the services the Knights provided for their clients was a necessary item in the grand scheme of the planet's Well Being System.
To become a Knight required education far beyond the planet's secondary schools. It required an inquiry into the sciences of anatomy, biochemistry, histology, pathology, physiology, ceramics, metallurgy, and behavioral sciences. Most of all, student Knights studied everything peculiar to the 32 choppers inhabitants possessed. When the students had mastered the entire curriculum, they then were empowered with a specialized field of knowledge called The Force.
Things were going quite well for the Knights. They were highly respected, worked good hours, and were fairly well compensated for their services. Everyone wanted to keep his or her choppers! However, along the way, the chopper well-being model and compensation system changed. It was insidious at first. The Knights and inhabitants did not realize an Empire was slowly, but surely, out to change how choppers were to be treated.
The Empire plots its takeover
This Empire had set out to restrict and limit the quality of service the choppers could receive. The Empire had very few individuals with training comparable to the Knights. In fact, the Emperor had never even studied the science of choppers. He was a student of business who drank beer and partied while the Knights were busy studying their subjects in college. But The Empire had many individuals with financial and marketing training.
The Empire issued propaganda stating that the Knights were charging fees that exceeded the normal and acceptable standard. The Empire also tried to convince the inhabitants that all the Knights were equally trained, and the services they provided to the inhabitants' choppers were not really necessary or useful. The choppers usually had a pearly or enamel-like quality to their essence. The Empire declared, "We do not care how you fix the choppers! Make them look like silver if they have to be repaired, and if they corrode or rot, then remove them from your clients! Fix the choppers in the most economical, and not necessarily cosmetic, fashion you can achieve!" However, the inhabitants wanted their choppers to look like choppers, not some inferior, unattractive, (possibly removable) replacement chopper.
The Seduction of the Dark Side
The Force was being assaulted, but The Empire was clever. The Empire told the Knights, "Come, join us, and we will give you a preferred status in the minds of the inhabitants. You will work for a lower fee and still be expected to provide excellent service to their choppers." Some of the Knights went to the Dark Side. They were lured by the thrill of having more choppers to treat than they could ever dream of. These Knights figured that if they could treat a higher volume of choppers, then they could make up for the paltry fee The Empire was to pay them. They were prepared to put on roller skates to treat all the choppers that came to them.
However, these Knights did not realize that their landlords were not going to lower their rents because they were a "preferred" Knight. The chopper supply guild could not offer a discount because the Knight had signed a pact with The Empire. The squires who assisted the Knights could not accept a lower salary just because the Knight was aligned with The Empire.
New technology had emerged that made old, broken choppers look like new choppers. But the Knights could not afford the new technology since they had joined The Empire. The guilds that fabricated replacement choppers were being squeezed because the Knights were looking for more economical venues to make new choppers.
The Knights face peril
Often, the promises of The Empire failed to materialize. The Knights were working harder for less satisfaction. Financially, the Knight dream was becoming a nightmare. Many of the schools in which the Knights had studied were forced to close their doors. The Hallowed Halls of Higher Learning found it easier to keep the Schools of Law open, because personal injury lawyers had such a highly valued place in that society. Some even considered the Knighthood as a trade, rather than a profession.
The care, skill, and judgment that had been passed on from generations of Knights were being questioned. The Force was in danger. The leaders of the Knights were hapless. Laws of the planet stated that The Empire could dictate whatever rules of chopper treatment they may choose. In the game of commerce among the Knighthood, the playing field was not level; it was pitched unfairly.
Some of the Knights felt their leaders were not doing enough for them. In the opinion of many, there was precious little creative thinking going on in the leadership of the Knights. There was also fear. If the leaders of the Knights spoke out as a group, they would be hammered with antitrust accusations and class action lawsuits. And so, they kept silent. What had happened to the freedom of speech that had been their birthright? And, equally important, how could the Knights restore the integrity of The Force?
The Knights take their stand
The stand could not come from the leadership of the Knights. The stand had to come from each and every Knight. Individual Knights had to decide if they wanted to operate beholden to The Empire.
A "guru" was a teacher who brought light out of darkness; a conduit for wisdom and guidance. Many of the gurus of the Knighthood said, "Don't go to the Dark Side." Many Knights listened and protected the creed of the Knights. The Empire needed the Knights for legitimization; the Knights would do fine without The Empire. The inhabitants and their choppers would fare better without The Empire in their lives. Once all of the Knights decided that they would no longer practice with the Dark Side, a free-market chopper economy prospered and everyone lived happily ever after.
Dr. Tom Machnowski is a general dentist in private practice in Woodridge, Ill. He is a 1975 graduate of Loyola University of Chicago Dental School. He remains a supporter of continuing education for dentists and staffs, and maintains and promotes the professionalism, independence, and scientific advancements of dentistry. Reach Dr. Machnowski at email@example.com.