Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Scary Fact from Fonzie

Recently, Marc Maron of the WTF podcast interviewed one of the world’s most important people. I’m referring, of course to Henry Winkler, TV’s Fonz. Given the fact that we have a statue of the guy downtown, I figured I ought to give it a listen.

In a fascinating and wide-ranging interview, Winkler talks about his childhood background and the relatives who escaped the Holocaust (and didn’t), how he got into acting, moving to Hollywood, what happened after Happy Days, and his struggles with learning disabilities. He’s turned that last item into a sort of second career helping children who struggle with learning disabilities like he did, authoring a series of children’s books for dyslexics. But I want to highlight something shocking and disturbing that he says toward the end of the episode:

WTF Episonde 593: Henry Winkler [1:012:40]
Marc Maron: What’s your wife do? 
Henry Winkler: My wife is an unbelievable grandmother. She was a champion for abused, abandoned and neglected children in L.A., and then she went and worked when Clinton was president in Washington for those children. Except, here’s the sad thing. Really, we talk a lot about children in America. But they don’t write checks, so you don’t really do a lot for them, you just talk about them. But the real reason is, because they don’t make contributions. 
Marc Maron: Which means? 
Henry Winkler: Which means that we talk about how important their future is. How important their education is. But we really don’t lift a finger. 
Marc Maron: Yeah, so nothing gets solved. I was just talking about that today with a comedian friend of mine, Greg Proops, that the education system; there isn’t some context, there isn’t some guidance, there isn’t some sort of people, you know, who will engage these kids. It’s just… 
Henry Winkler: Well, we now teach toward a test. Do you know that the number of prison cells is negotiated by tests taken by third graders? 
Marc Maron: What?? Is that real? 
Henry Winkler: That’s real. That’s real. 
Marc Maron: That’s one of the saddest things I’ve ever heard. 
Henry Winkler: Fifty-seven percent of human beings, or sixty-two percent, somewhere in there, of human beings incarcerated, probably anywhere in the world, but in America and England, are in some way learning challenged. They fell through the cracks. 
Marc Maron: It’s horrendous. And also there’s a big prison business system here. It’s big business. Like, so, what do you do? I mean, it’s so sad that… 
Henry Winkler: Here’s what you do. You do it one little kid at a time. Any child you meet, you tell them, they’re great. You tell them, they are powerful. And that, because if —I travel and talk to children in classrooms. I ask one question. I say, 'anyone know what they’re great at?'  Every single child in that room anywhere in the world that I have gone knows what they’re great at. And that’s where we should start in moving children toward being great adults on the earth.
So, in other words, locking up a certain percentage of the population is just part of the plan! They are already planning how many of us they want to lock up in a cage twenty years from now based on our current test scores. Now we know why they were so obsessed with enacting all that testing, even though every single teacher I’ve ever heard says how much it hampers true learning. It’s all part of the plan. These are the “surplus” people not able to be turned into “human resources.” I wonder to what extent the projected unemployment rate is also influencing the future prison/security state budget.

This is the most chilling indictment of modernity I’ve ever seen. I think capitalism has definitely jumped the shark.


  1. I was in a HS that was basically a holding pen until kids were old enough to get onto the prison and welfare treadmill. A few kids succeeded out of that school because they were in the right squares of the race/class matrix there. Being white meant you were headed for welfare and prison. I GTFO of there as soon as I could.

  2. Wow, I read that and thought two things: One, that is an incredibly damning fact about how our society operates. Two, that seems apocryphal, as it seemed like something that outrageous would spur a call to action.

    A quick Google search brought up this Atlantic article ( In it, they claim that this is indeed an urban myth but do discuss other evidence correlating low 3rd grade reading scores with problems later in life.

    Then again, even if Mr. Winkler's story were true, it's probably naive of me to think that our jaded society would take much notice of it anyway (without a massive public relations effort, that is).

  3. "locking up a certain percentage of the population is just part of the plan!"

    I can't help but hear Heath Ledger's Joker when I read that.


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