Several months ago, something called Sequester descended upon the country. Liberal pundits said it would be a calamity. Americans would face drastic reductions in everything they were used to.
In fact, Sequester called for 2% cuts. Not 20% or even 5%. Only 2%. This is next to nothing. If you ate 2% less food in a week, you wouldn’t notice.
The original idea was to achieve budgetary restraint painlessly. The cuts would be automatic, small, in every category, fair. No one could object. We could begin moving in the direction of fiscal sanity.
The problem for President Obama is that he did not want frugality. He didn’t want painless cuts.
What did Obama do? He instituted drastic cuts of 20% and 40% and even 100% in places where he thought people would scream.
For example, he cut White House tours. A 2% cut would mean one afternoon each week. But the President canceled all tours.
In April he grounded the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds. Their performances are a symbol of American ingenuity and superiority. A 2% cut might mean one performance now and then. But Obama canceled all them.
He ordered many other cuts, oddly large, in random, illogical places. These cuts were clearly strategic. He wanted to stop any impulse among the American people to accept fiscal restraint. Clearly, he wanted to keep running up debt.
The comical backdrop for all this is that our Education Establishment continually claims to care about something called Critical Thinking. We’re told our students are learning this 21st-century skill.
Seriously. If anyone in this country could think critically, they would all be screaming the same thing: “Wait a minute, Mr. President, you’re cheating. That’s not a 2% cut. That’s a huge cut, so you can make people stay home or be furloughed. Their lives will be changed.”
George Will summed up the matter: “A 2 percent reduction of federal spending would be easily manageable. But it has been made deliberately dumb by mandatory administrative rigidities intended to maximize pain in order to weaken resistance to any spending restraint.”
But try to find a single complaint in your local paper about the illogic of the president’s cuts. Where are the editors who can think critically?
The comedy is even darker. A 2% cut can’t mean the abolition of 100% of White House tours or anything else. This is simple arithmetic. To point this out, you merely have to be capable of common sense. Is that now an endangered species?
One theory is that crude sophistry drives virtually everything in our public schools (and the media). The people running the schools are steeped in absurdity. So when the president uses a 2% Sequester to justify a 50% cut, this seems to be more of the craziness they are used to.
After all, they teach reading in a way that does not let children learn to read. They teach arithmetic in a way that does not let children master arithmetic. They teach all subjects in ways that guarantee no children will ever know much about the subjects.
We need to go in the other direction for a change: toward smart.
Everything in American education encourages sloppiness. There is even a Common Core program that embraces the notion that 3 x 4 can equal 11 if students can show how they got that answer. In our public schools, students learn to think like con men and sophists. They accept fuzziness and vagueness. All the qualities that might allow you to move toward real Critical Thinking are nipped in the bud. This sort of education is not just an attack on intelligence but also on character. We need to rescue both.
If you want Critical Thinking in American children, you have to start by asking that they be precise, orderly, grammatically correct, numerically accurate, punctual, factual, and truthful. That’s how we move away from dumb, toward smart. Also essential: the President and media have to tell the truth. Always.
------------------- EMBRACING THE BASICS: -------------------
LITERACY: “Reading is Easy” (a short video)
MATHEMATICS: “Price’s Easy Arithmetic For First Graders--The Best and Cheapest Curriculum”
REAL CRITICAL THINKING: “23: On Bullsh*t and Sophistry”