Texas GOP Declares: “No More Teaching of ‘Critical Thinking Skills’ in Texas Public Schools”

2016-02-06_10-50-13

2016-01-18_09-18-02.pngIs our country about “obedience training” or critical thinking? That seems to be the question at hand at least for the Texas GOP. Should we have a subservient society or one that is educated to ask questions? Many of the leaders in Texas seems to think the former and like so many other things are trying to force that opinion on the rest of us!

If you haven’t figured it out by now I don’t hold Texas politics in much regard. There are just too many nuts that have come from their in recent years. Some became president and some want to get there now.  There is just too much swagger in Texas politics, and even Texas in general, for my liking.

Being a critical thinker I can’t even imagine a country whose citizens are discouraged from asking  questions. Critical thinking is what has made our country great and the lack of it will surely be our downfall. When we fall in line with whatever our leaders tell us we are on our way to becoming something other than the great democracy we have been. Stifling critical thinking is what allowed Hitler such a strangle hold on Germany for so many years. I regrettable think that it is possible for us to turn that way if the Texas GOP has there way! When critical thinking ceases then propaganda becomes “fact” and that is a scary thing!!!

In the near future I will be showing you more details about the critical thinking process in order to illustrate just how insane Texas politics is in this, and in fact most other areas of life.

 

About Those Greeks…

I see where the Greeks elected a new government this week to help them reduce austerity that was forced upon them by the European Union bailout.  This reminded me of a book I read a few years ago entitled “Boomerang” by Michael Lewis. One chapter in the book was about Greece. The book is very enlightening and well written. Here are some selected snippets about Greece.

The average government job pays almost three times the average private-sector job. The national railroad has annual revenues of 100 million euros against an annual wage bill of 400 million, plus 300 million euros in other expenses. The average state railroad employee earns 65,000 euros a year…. The Greek public-school system is the site of breathtaking inefficiency: one of the lowest-ranked systems in Europe, it nonetheless employs four times as many teachers per pupil as the highest-ranked, Finland’s. Greeks who send their children to public schools simply assume that they will need to hire private tutors to make sure they actually learn something.  The retirement age for Greek jobs classified as “arduous” is as early as fifty-five for men and fifty for women . As this is also the moment when the state begins to shovel out generous pensions, more than six hundred Greek professions somehow managed to get themselves classified as arduous: hairdressers, radio announcers, waiters, musicians, and on and on and on…. The Greek people never learned to pay their taxes. And they never did because no one is punished. No one has ever been punished. It’s a cavalier offense— like a gentleman not opening a door for a lady.” The scale of Greek tax cheating was at least as incredible as its scope: an estimated two-thirds of Greek doctors reported incomes under 12,000 euros a year— which meant, because incomes below that amount weren’t taxable, that even plastic surgeons making millions a year paid no tax at all…. The problem wasn’t the law there was a law on the books that made it a jailable offense to cheat the government out of more than 150,000 euros but its enforcement. “If the law was enforced,” the tax collector said, “every doctor in Greece would be in jail.” I laughed, and he gave me a stare. “I am completely serious.” One reason no one is ever prosecuted— apart from the fact that prosecution would seem arbitrary, as everyone is doing it and that the Greek courts take up to fifteen years to resolve tax cases.  Lewis, Michael (2011-09-28). Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World – Norton. Kindle Edition.

The quotes above give you an idea as to why Greece might be in the troubles it is. As the book implies actions have consequences and Greece apparently needs to learn that lesson.

Greece is the birthplace of democracy so let’s end this post with a quote from the ancient Greek philosopher Isocrates:

“Democracy destroys itself because it abuses its right to freedom and equality. Because it teaches its citizens to consider audacity as a right, lawlessness as a freedom, abrasive speech as equality, and anarchy as progress.”

Sounds kind of familiar doesn’t it?

We Have The Best Congress Ever…..

Congress“Never blame a legislative body for not doing something. When they do nothing, that don’t hurt anybody. It’s when they do something is when they become dangerous.” – Will Rogers, 22 November 1929

Maybe I am looking at the politics thing all wrong Will? As you say if our congress is doing nothing maybe that is a good thing. Maybe when they do things is when they get in trouble?  I know this is one of  your more popular quotes, but I kind of think you get it wrong in at least a couple of areas.

  • When one small portion of the population lords it over all the rest of us we have to depend on our government to give us the muscle we need to correct the situation.
  • When our citizens are dying unnecessarily because of lack of adequate healthcare someone has to come in and do the Christian thing and help our brothers out.
  • When someone comes along and threatens the very foundation of our democracy by trying to squelch the vote some with some power needs to stamp that out.

I am primarily a “power to the people” type person.  I believe that government should stay out of my way as much as possible and let me make my own mistakes and successes. But when the problem is much bigger than I am I need help and that is where government “should” come in. The problem with this idea is to elect people who know the difference.

You didn’t have a lot of confidence in the people in government in your days and I guess I don’t either. Especially the last dozen years or so when the clowns and wing-nuts took over. I’m just not sure that it is the “legislative body” as you say is the problem but instead it is the yahoos who we elect to fill those seats. Currently all the seats seem to be filled with people who are more concerned about themselves and their particular political leanings. There just doesn’t seem to be anyone looking out for good of the country anymore. There are just too many wing-nuts who are clinging to the most extreme views of the world today.

Like you Will, I try to be an optimist.  I think it is possible to push the current ones out and put in more centrist minded folks to take care of our basic needs. It might take a while but I still think it can happen. But one of the necessary prerequisites is that people turn off their favorite cable news channel and look at what is going on with their own eyes and brains.

But I’m just a simple guy so what do I know.

Thank Heavens The U.S. Is Not a Democracy….

Source: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_form_of_government_does_the_US_have#ixzz24fhg3VC9

Thomas Jefferson said, “A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.”  Thomas Jefferson, March 11, 1790: “The republican is the only form of government which is not eternally at open or secret war with the rights of mankind.”  f Alexander Hamilton, in debate, said: “Real liberty is neither found in despotism or the extremes of democracy, but in moderate government.” 

Alexander Hamilton, in Senate: “It has been observed that a pure democracy, if it were practicable, would be the most perfect government. Experience has proved that no position is more false than this. The ancient democracies, in which the people themselves deliberated, never possessed one feature of good government. Their very character was tyranny: their figure deformity.” 

It is a common mistake to think that the United States is a democracy.  To hear our founding fathers come out so clearly as above against that form of government is very disconcerting to many. Thank heavens for their wisdom in setting up our government as a republic and not a true democracy. It is only because of them that we still exist as a country today.

A contrast is often made between a republican and a democratic form of government. A democracy is based on being a direct wielding of power by the people with unrestricted majority rule.  A republic being a government by representatives elected by the people with restrictions on the power of the majority (that is the very important difference). John Adams in 1788 was probably the first to use the term “tyranny of the majority” but that term actually goes back to ancient Greece.  In many cases throughout history and into the present day a disliked ethnic, religious, non-religious or racial group is deliberately penalized by the majority element acting through the democratic process.

Up until recently the filibuster was part of the restrictions on the power of the majority. It allowed the minority to shut down the legislative action in very extreme cases. Unfortunately the Republicans in the current congress have grossly abused that sacred principle.  That very fact is yet another reason that even our republican form of government is currently being threatened.

It should be noted that the requirement of restrictions on the power of the majority are not contained in our original constitution but are, instead, contained in the Bill of Rights which Madison introduced in the first United States congress in 1789. Thus, whichever definition one adopts, the United Stated has a republican form of government and thank heavens for the wisdom of our founder in relation to that.