Archive for the ‘critical thinking’ Category

Real World Graduation, Question 52: Your Rights

RealWorldGraduation_Question_52_Your_Rights   <– PDF

A certain man was a successful politician for many years. He gradually rose through the ranks from a city council member to state Representative to state Senator to federal Congressman to federal Senator.  In all those years, he was a consistent advocate for gun control, including various proposals to ban all guns and ammunition held by private persons.  He himself always lived in places with strict gun control, but he also was always in violation of the existing gun laws: he owned many guns that were banned, he failed to register guns he owned, and he bought and sold guns without the legal reporting requirements.  He was called upon to serve as an under-Secretary of a cabinet-level department by the new presidential administration.  As part of the vetting process, he was asked if he had ever violated any gun laws.  He lied about his guns, and the administration believed him, since he had a “perfect” voting record promoting and enacting gun control.  But once he was confirmed by the Senate, it came to light that he had in fact owned many guns, some of them illegally, and had committed numerous violations of the existing gun laws (some of which he had helped to pass at the state and federal level).  What will happen next?

a) He will be fired by the President.

b) He will resign in disgrace.

c) He will be investigated by the federal authorities.

d) He will be indicted by state and local authorities.

e) Either a) or b), followed by either c) or d).

(The answer is on p. 2 of the PDF.)

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Posted in Bill of Rights, critical thinking, government powers, gun control, habeas corpus, progressive, Real World Graduation, Second Amendment, U. S. Constitution | No Comments »

Real World Graduation #51: Politics and Pay

RealWorldGraduation_Question_51_Politics_And_Pay   <– PDF

The political parties in America can be summarized as follows.  The Federalists were members of the Founding generation who believed in a strong central government.  The Republican-Democrat party was established in the late 1790’s, and supported a weaker federal government and stronger state governments.  In the 1820’s, the Republican-Democrat Party split into the Democratic and Whig parties.  The Whig party was the conservative party that favored and aided the western expansion, including many public works such as canals, railroads, and improvement of navigation on the rivers.  It became extinct after the election of 1858 and was replaced by the Republican Party.  There have been many minor parties in U. S. politics, but none of their candidates have ever become President.  The two main parties today are the Democrats, who claim to favor the working people, unions, civil rights, and equality.  They are especially critical of the large salaries paid to high-ranking corporate executives.  Democrats claim to be altruistic in their motives.  The Republicans claim to favor business interests, working people, civil rights, and equal opportunity.  Republicans are not bothered by high salaries of top corporate executives, and believe generally that people should be paid what they are entitled to either under the law or by contract.

The Federalists are considered to be a unique party that was short-lived and had no successor. The modern Democratic Party is considered to be the successor to the Republican-Democratic party that split in 1828.  The modern Republican Party is considered to be the successor of the Whig party that was disbanded in 1858.

The Presidents belonged to Parties as follows, and the number after their names indicates their order in the line of Presidents. Of all the Presidents, only Washington was not a member of any political party.

None: Washington (1)

Federalist: J. Adams (2)

Republican-Democrat: Jefferson (3), Madison (4), Monroe (5), J. Q. Adams (6)

Democrat: Jackson (7), Van Buren (8), Polk (11), Pierce (14), Buchanan (15), A. Johnson (17), Cleveland (22 & 24), Wilson (28), F. D. Roosevelt (32), Truman (33), Kennedy (35), L. B. Johnson (36), Carter (39), Clinton (42), Obama (44)

Whig: W. H. Harrison (9), Tyler (10), Taylor (12), Fillmore (13)

Republican: Lincoln (16), Grant (18), Hayes (19), Garfield (20), Arthur (21), B. Harrison (23), McKinley (25), T. Roosevelt (26), Taft (27), Harding (29), Coolidge (30), Hoover (31), Eisenhower (34), Nixon (37), Ford (38), Reagan (40), G. H. W. Bush (41), G. W. Bush (43), D. J. Trump (45)

Three Presidents served either for a symbolic salary of $1 per year, at no salary at all, or donated his entire salary to charity. Keep in mind that the President is the nominal leader of his Party, and the most effective leaders lead by example.  Based on the above information on party affiliation, and the claimed objectives of each political party, which three Presidents served essentially for free?  The letter following their name indicates their political party affiliation.

a) Van Buren (D), Buchanan (D), and F. D. Roosevelt (D)

b) Polk (D), Pierce (D), and L. B. Johnson (D)

c) Wilson (D), Carter (D), and Clinton (D)

d) Adams (F), Nixon (R), and Reagan (R)

e) It is either a), b), or c).

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Real World Graduation #50: The Media

RealWorldGraduation_Question_50_The_Media   <– PDF

Suppose a famous nationally-distributed newspaper publishes a news article. This particular story is about a series of arsons and burglaries committed by specific persons, who are named in the story.  It is based on information provided to the newspaper by the local police department.  This information was provided to the newspaper editors because he is on friendly terms with officials at the police department.     Because this newspaper is regarded as the standard for integrity, its’ story is picked up by other newspapers, and then by various radio and television stations.  The broadcast and cable television networks accurately repeat the story in their broadcasts, with full audio and video “dramatic re-creations” of the events described in the story.

A few days later, the truth came out. The police officers who provided the information to the newspaper had lied under orders from their superiors in the police department.  The officers knew that the subjects in the story were innocent, but obeyed the chief’s order to relay the information to the newspaper.   The persons named in the story were in fact completely innocent; the upper echelon of the police department held a personal grudge against them because they were frequent critics of the department.  The newspaper editors did not know the people in the story were innocent, but did not investigate to verify the information.  They were happy to go ahead and publish it although unverified because the subjects in the story held political views contrary to those of the official position of the newspaper.  This story was also widely distributed on the internet, including all of the “social networking” sites.  The subjects of the article were libeled, slandered, and publicly vilified until they were completely exonerated by the court.  Unfortunately, they experienced considerable loss of income and legal expenses.  The Police Chief who created the false allegations, and the officers who carried out the politically-motivated orders were subsequently fired.  The editors at the newspaper were all subsequently given raises and promotions.  But the public was misled and misinformed all along, and some still believe the people mentioned were guilty, since the initiating newspaper never was required to issue a formal retraction or apology.  What should be done to prevent this kind of attack upon innocent people and the spreading of false information to the public?

a) Implement qualification controls to prevent inaccurate reporting, such as:

1) All journalists, editors, and commentators shall require a journalism license, to be renewed annually;

2) Persons who are not licensed journalists shall be prohibited from publishing in any format (except for works clearly labeled as fiction).

b) Implement reasonable content controls to prevent political bias, such as:

1) All newspaper, magazine, and printed publications shall be reviewed for news relevance and censored if appropriate, including a prohibition on “editorial opinion”;

2) Radio and TV broadcasts shall be subject to the same controls, except for live sporting events (without play-by-play).

c) Implement technological controls in order to reduce the occasions under which this type of crime could occur, such as:

1) Manufacture and possession of high-speed printing presses (above a certain number of pages per hour) shall be prohibited;

2) Manufacture and possession of broadcast equipment, including cameras, microphones, and lighting systems for studios shall be controlled by suitable authorities, to be released to users when required.

3) Social networking sites shall be prohibited from linking to news articles;

4) The internet shall be regulated as a public utility.

d) Implement capacity controls in order to reduce the magnitude of crimes when they do occur, such as:

1) Newspapers shall be restricted to publishing once per month, with a maximum page count based on community population;

2) Magazines shall be published once per year with a page count limit proportional to the number of paid subscribers;

3) Radio and television broadcast talk show hosts shall be restricted to one five-minute segment per month, to make room for greater diversity in broadcasting.

e) Some combination of the above actions.

(The answer is on p. 3 of the PDF.)

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Real World Graduation, Question 49: Malaria

RealWorldGraduation_Question_49_Malaria   <– PDF

A chemical known as dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane was accidentally discovered in 1874 by O. Zeidler; and was re-discovered by P. Muller in 1939. It was found to be a very effective pesticide.  Its name was abbreviated to DDT, and was produced commercially and used widely from 1943 until it was banned from use in 1972.  It was banned due to allegations, since proven to be false, that DDT caused the thinning of bird’s eggs, caused cancer in humans, and reduced the populations of eagles, falcons, and pelicans.  The main reason it was banned was because the environmental activists wanted to establish a power base, and used the banning of DDT as their test case.  The greatest benefit of DDT was in combating the mosquito-borne disease malaria: while it was being used, several million deaths from malaria were prevented [1].  Malaria has always been fairly rare in the U. S.

Since DDT was banned, about 300 to 500 million cases of malaria occur worldwide each year, and about 1 million black people in southern Africa die from it; most of these fatalities are children under 5 years of age.  There is at present no vaccine for malaria; and treatment of it must occur rapidly and in the right dosage; otherwise relapses may occur (sometimes decades later) [2].

The best way to prevent an outbreak of malaria is to suppress the population of the mosquito that spreads it. Consider the following scenario.  An infestation of the malaria-transmitting mosquito is discovered in Manhattan (part of New York City), and the use of pesticides other than DDT proved ineffective in reducing the mosquito population.  Because malaria is so rare in the U. S., Americans have no immunity to the disease (since immunity comes from exposure).  Experts therefore predict that about 15% of the population of Manhattan would get malaria, and about 5000 people living in Manhattan (nearly all children) would be expected to die from the epidemic.  What would happen?

a) The people of Manhattan would all temporarily move to their upstate summer homes, and wait for the epidemic to move to Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, the Bronx, and New Jersey.

b) The people of Manhattan would sell their homes, quit their jobs, and move elsewhere.

c) The people of Manhattan would stay put, continue their normal activities, and watch 5000 children die; reasoning that it is only fair that each resident of Manhattan accept the same risks as other people, especially since malaria is a naturally-occurring disease.

d) The people of Manhattan would remain in Manhattan, but would close themselves up in their homes as a self-imposed quarantine, until all the mosquitoes either died or moved elsewhere.

e) Some combination of a) through d). In other words, those who could afford to move would do so; those who could maintain quarantine would do so, and those who could do neither would have to risk their children’s lives.



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