Archives for November 30, 2013

Opinion: Critical Thinking

20120220-_MG_6032By Chuck Robison 
It’s time to stop hitting the snooze button and WAKE UP. The “owners” of our country are hell bent on destroying the whole American Dream so they can get all the money. Nothing new about that. What’s new is this conflict has now become totally absurd.

Texas Republicans included in their 2012 Platform this bright idea:

“Knowledge-Based Education – We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.” (Valarie Strauss, Washington Post, 7-9-12)

Now why would any leadership organization oppose skills for thinking critically?

“A McDonald’s employee called the company’s McResource help line to ask what she could do to afford her heating bill, and the operator told her to use public assistance.
The recorded call was released just a week after a major report found that more than half of fast food workers rely on public assistance programs, costing taxpayers some $7 billion per year.” (UPI, 10-25-13)

And you were told we want to get people off of welfare and into good jobs.

“Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest private sector employer, is also the biggest consumer of taxpayer supported aid. According to Florida Congressman Alan Grayson, in many states, Wal-Mart employees are the largest group of Medicaid recipients. They are also the single biggest group of food stamp recipients.” (Barry Ritholtz Nov 13, 2013 Bloomberg)

And you wondered why Wal-Mart Employees were creating their own Thanksgiving food bank for fellow employees who could not afford to feed their families…..after all, they had “good jobs” with one of the biggest employers in the country. The family owners of Wal-Mart are worth more than 120 Billion Dollars and they oppose the establishment of a fair minimum wage. And currently Wal-Mart ads feature what a great place it is for a career.

It sounds like the next stop will be the government being forced to re-create 18th century workhouses where poor people were imprisoned for their poverty and forced to do menial labor.

The reality is, we have been trained to believe that food stamp recipients are welfare cheats who are too lazy to work. Given the facts, this is proof that we need to teach critical thinking from kindergarten on up.

Critical Thinking, should we ever teach it, would begin with moral precepts and community responsibility. When did we start to believe that Ayn Rand defined the soul of America? Rand’s Atlas Shrugged has been ranked as second only to the Bible as one of the most influential books in the lives of modern readers, and more than 30 million copies of her books have been sold. Her version of Individualism and The American Dream portrays a few strong characters whose drive and ambition gains the world for them at the price of the many.

There is nothing moral about this view of our purpose here. It is simply selfishness gone wild. As Americans we tell the world this is a free and supportive country, while at the same time we glorify pure self-interest, forgetting, among many others, President Teddy Roosevelt’s admonition that “This country will not be a permanently good place for any of us to live in unless we make it a reasonably good place for all of us to live in.”

The truth is, unless we become critical thinkers in the public discourse, we will see our country pass over the tipping point of no return to common decency and compassionate care for each other. And never doubt that Karma affects countries as it does individuals.

The Bible asks the question: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” And the Real Answer is, “No, we are our brothers’ brothers.” And it is time to wake up and have a family reunion.