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Hearing Aids for Rock'n'Roll President
Source: Dallas Morning News (Associated Press)
October 4, 1997
Headline: Ear Force One: Clinton to Require
Bill Clinton, America's first baby-boomer President, has
been fitted with hearing aids. He has been complaining
about hearing loss since his days as Arkansas' governor.
Here is an excerpt from the AP news story, which makes
it clear that noise is the culprit which caused the President's
Mr. Clinton will be one of 6 million Americans who
requires [sic] hearing aids to compensate for losses
caused by age and noise.
Robin L. Holm of the International Hearing Society,
an association of specialists in the $2 billion hearing
aid industry, said a lot of people in the president's
generation who listened to loud music in their youth
are now having the same problem -- although many
may not know it.
* * * * * *
A high frequency hearing loss such as Mr. Clinton's
is the most common. It can be started early and
then aggravated by frequent exposure to loud noises --
such as playing a saxophone in a band, as Mr. Clinton
has often done -- but some hearing loss is eventually
experienced by just about everybody.
-- end of excerpt --
The last sentence is misleading. Measurements of
hearing ability in elderly people in so-called "primitive"
societies have found many with excellent hearing. A more
accurate statement would be that most people experience
some hearing loss in our noisier "advanced" societies.
Another point that needs to be made is that amplifiers and
speakers have become far more powerful since the days
when the young Clinton was abusing his ears. Unless
the society starts acting quickly to control and minimize
noise abuse, the problem will become much worse.
I was quite disappointed when Clinton allowed a rock band
to perform at his first inauguration. As for many baby-boomers,
loud entertainment noise is a vehicle by which he was trying
to cling to his fading youth. I wonder how youthful these
hearing aids make him feel. Maybe the experience will help
him grow up a little bit and exercise some leadership in
recognizing that noise pollution is America's number one
-- Michael Wright
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