« Whouda Thunk It?! (updated 19jan2011) | Main | Ruminations - 21jan2011 »

20 January 2011


Russ Steele


I would like to draw your readers attention to this report on the ability of college grads to be critical thinkers here. This may help explain why we end up with Elected Dummies!

Study: Many college students not learning to think critically

By Sara Rimer, The Hechinger Report | The Hechinger Report
NEW YORK — An unprecedented study that followed several thousand undergraduates through four years of college found that large numbers didn't learn the critical thinking, complex reasoning and written communication skills that are widely assumed to be at the core of a college education.

Many of the students graduated without knowing how to sift fact from opinion, make a clear written argument or objectively review conflicting reports of a situation or event, according to New York University sociologist Richard Arum, lead author of the study. The students, for example, couldn't determine the cause of an increase in neighborhood crime or how best to respond without being swayed by emotional testimony and political spin.



Yes, but how do these dummies win elections? They're not the only ones involved in the political process... not sure if that makes it better or worse.

Steven Frisch

I just took the test and scored 100%. I consider that a testament to the effectiveness of the government 'drills' my liberal American historian father constructed for us as kids. By the time each kid was 10 they had visited every branch of federal government in person and read many of our founding documents, an exercise I would recommend for every parent.

I agree that elected officials should know almost every one of these answers. I would like to see Sarah Palin, MIchelle Bachman, and Dixon take this test---publicly.


Bobo Bolinski

NO one expects the expect the lamestream media or the Spanish Inquisition!

Mikey McD

I love when Quiz authors have a sense of humor:

27) Free markets typically secure more economic prosperity than government’s centralized planning because:

E. government planners are too cautious in spending taxpayers’ money"

*I missed the Gettysburg question and got lucky on the Susan B. Anthony question.

Mike Sherman

The quality of those running for office has diminished over the past 20+ years and will only get worse.

Steve Frisch

I think a good case could be made that measuring "assets minus liabilities" is a better way to measure business profit than "Cost minus Revenue" . At a minimum, turning profit into a profit ratio, is more accurate.

I personally prefer a net return on assets approach. By dividing net income by total assets you get a much better picture of your ability to leverage assets to create profit.

Just a little tip from the "non-profit" sector, who measures performance just like the "for profit" sector does.

Mikey McD

A step in the right direction: "Spending Reduction Act of 2011"

"House GOP today unveiled an eye-popping plan to eliminate $2.5 trillion in spending over the next 10 years. Gone would be Amtrak subsidies, fat checks to the Legal Services Corporation and National Endowment for the Arts, and some $900 million to run President Obama's healthcare reform program. "


Michael R. Kesti

Cost minus revenue is, by definition, profit and is usually measured over some period of time. Assets minus liabilities is a measure of the value of a business and is usually relates to a specific moment in time.

Greg Goodknight

George, isn't that dunce in fact an image of then comedian, now Senator, Al Franken (D-Saturday Night Live) as a young man?

Steven Frisch

Yes Michael I know that cost minus revenue is by definition profit. I was positing that looking at the two together is a better measure. If your profit is stable, but your asset to liability ratio is rising, you may look profitable, but be loosing value. Not a good business position to be in. I have taken over more than one business that had positive profit but had been eating value, necessitating real corrective action.

Steven Frisch

Funny, I was thinking it looked like Eric Cantor!

Steven Frisch

Finally, Mickey McD, really? Good start? $2.5 trillion in cuts and not a dime from defense?

Mikey McD

What part of "start" don't you understand?

How's that for SPECIFIC solutions!....

Federal Workforce Reforms: Eliminate automatic pay increases for civilian federal workers for five years. Additionally, cut the civilian workforce by a total of 15 percent through attrition. Allow the hiring of only one new worker for every two workers who leave federal employment until the reduction target has been met.

"Stimulus" Repeal: Eliminate all remaining "stimulus" funding. $45 billion total savings.

Eliminate federal control of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. $30 billion total savings.

Repeal the Medicaid FMAP increase in the "State Bailout" (Senate amendments to S. 1586). $16.1 billion total savings.

More than 100 specific program eliminations and spending reductions listed below: $330 billion savings over ten years (included in above discretionary savings figure).

Here is the full list of cuts:

Additional Program Eliminations/Spending Reforms

Corporation for Public Broadcasting Subsidy. $445 million annual savings.

Save America's Treasures Program. $25 million annual savings.

International Fund for Ireland. $17 million annual savings.

Legal Services Corporation. $420 million annual savings.

National Endowment for the Arts. $167.5 million annual savings.

National Endowment for the Humanities. $167.5 million annual savings.

Hope VI Program. $250 million annual savings.

Amtrak Subsidies. $1.565 billion annual savings.

Eliminate duplicative education programs. H.R. 2274 (in last Congress), authored by Rep. McKeon, eliminates 68 at a savings of $1.3 billion annually.

U.S. Trade Development Agency. $55 million annual savings.

Woodrow Wilson Center Subsidy. $20 million annual savings.

Cut in half funding for congressional printing and binding. $47 million annual savings.

John C. Stennis Center Subsidy. $430,000 annual savings.

Community Development Fund. $4.5 billion annual savings.

Heritage Area Grants and Statutory Aid. $24 million annual savings.

Cut Federal Travel Budget in Half. $7.5 billion annual savings.

Trim Federal Vehicle Budget by 20%. $600 million annual savings.

Essential Air Service. $150 million annual savings.

Technology Innovation Program. $70 million annual savings.

Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Program. $125 million annual savings.

Department of Energy Grants to States for Weatherization. $530 million annual savings.

Beach Replenishment. $95 million annual savings.

New Starts Transit. $2 billion annual savings.

Exchange Programs for Alaska, Natives Native Hawaiians, and Their Historical Trading Partners in Massachusetts. $9 million annual savings.

Intercity and High Speed Rail Grants. $2.5 billion annual savings.

Title X Family Planning. $318 million annual savings.

Appalachian Regional Commission. $76 million annual savings.

Economic Development Administration. $293 million annual savings.

Programs under the National and Community Services Act. $1.15 billion annual savings.

Applied Research at Department of Energy. $1.27 billion annual savings.

FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership. $200 million annual savings.

Energy Star Program. $52 million annual savings.

Economic Assistance to Egypt. $250 million annually.

U.S. Agency for International Development. $1.39 billion annual savings.

General Assistance to District of Columbia. $210 million annual savings.

Subsidy for Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. $150 million annual savings.

Presidential Campaign Fund. $775 million savings over ten years.

No funding for federal office space acquisition. $864 million annual savings.

End prohibitions on competitive sourcing of government services.

Repeal the Davis-Bacon Act. More than $1 billion annually.

IRS Direct Deposit: Require the IRS to deposit fees for some services it offers (such as processing payment plans for taxpayers) to the Treasury, instead of allowing it to remain as part of its budget. $1.8 billion savings over ten years.

Require collection of unpaid taxes by federal employees. $1 billion total savings.

Prohibit taxpayer funded union activities by federal employees. $1.2 billion savings over ten years.

Sell excess federal properties the government does not make use of. $15 billion total savings.

Eliminate death gratuity for Members of Congress.

Eliminate Mohair Subsidies. $1 million annual savings.

Eliminate taxpayer subsidies to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. $12.5 million annual savings.

Eliminate Market Access Program. $200 million annual savings.

USDA Sugar Program. $14 million annual savings.

Subsidy to Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). $93 million annual savings.

Eliminate the National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program. $56.2 million annual savings.

Eliminate fund for Obamacare administrative costs. $900 million savings.

Ready to Learn TV Program. $27 million savings.

HUD Ph.D. Program.

Deficit Reduction Check-Off Act.

TOTAL SAVINGS: $2.5 Trillion over Ten Years

Mikey McD

A "step" in the right direction....

George Rebane

IMHO, starting cuts in defense spending before adopting a new national strategic policy for force projections is premature. Right now it is still our eleven carrier battle groups and seven marine expeditionary groups that carry the burden of fighting our wars, responding to crises (e.g. Korea), keeping open the world's sea lanes of commerce. And only a about half of these can be kept on station doing their designed jobs.

Meanwhile China is rapidly becoming the new western Pacific hegemon with two carrier task groups under construction, a new stealth fighter, and an operational carrier-busting missile coming online. In this environmnet defense cuts should be done very carefully.

PS. Did you gentlement mean to say that profit = revenues - costs?

Greg Goodknight

Defense is one of the few major expenditures by the Feds that is actually something they were granted authority by the Constitution to maintain.

That said, it should be much less, by the old fashioned way. Limit it to defense and don't meddle in the affairs of others. We'd be much better off now had we left the Saudis, Syrians, Iranians and Iraqis to fight among themselves for awhile, rather than step in with Desert Shield and Storm, and everything that followed.

Michael Anderson

I'll add to our need for a "national strategic policy for force projections," a "national strategic policy for energy extraction/purchase, storage, and use," a "national strategic policy for economic stabilization and business/job growth" (in the private sector known as a Business Plan), and a "national strategic policy for entitlement reform, health care reform, and political reform." There, that oughta do it.

Exit question: If China were to bust one of our carriers with a missile, wouldn't that be pretty much Game Over?

George Rebane

Greg and Michael have highlighted the reasons for having an explicit national strategic policy for factors involving the need for 'defense'.

Michael Anderson

Still playing whack-a-mole on the other side of the world. My pocketbook feels lighter everyday, the ROI sucks, and the joke's on US.


Greg Goodknight

"You answered 33 out of 33 correctly — 100.00 %

Average score for this quiz during January: 76.0%"

Not a bad test; I had to guess between two choices on one of the questions, I won't say which... 'tis sad the average is so low.

George... the dunce... is it Sen. Al Franken in his comic phase?

George Rebane

Greg, it sure looks like it could be Franken, but I don't know. I got it from Google images.

Aaron Klein

Darn, I only got 97%.

I was torn between the Puritans believing in complete religious freedom and stressing the sinfulness of humanity and ultimately chose wrong.

Great test.

Barry Pruett

Corporation for Public Broadcasting Subsidy ($445 million annual savings) - this will effect KVMR

Intercity and High Speed Rail Grants ($2.5 billion annual savings) - this will effect the high speed Cal Rail which needs matching fed funds

Still could cut more environmental grants - but I like the "start."

Barry Pruett

We really need to get federal spending to less than $2 trillion a year...

Michael Anderson

You did one better than me, Aaron. I missed the Puritan question as well (I have a mental block about original sin having been raised half-Mormon, but I should have known better since I read Hawthorne's "Scarlet Letter" in high school). But I also missed the Gettysburg question, which was just a straight up flub. Sigh.

Aaron Klein

Michael: I was wavering a bit with the Gettysburg question and almost assigned it to the Declaration of Independence. Closed my eyes and I was sure it was Abraham Lincoln I could hear saying it. Whew... :)

Michael Anderson


Yeah, I should have taken my time on that one as well, since in 7th grade we memorized both the G.A. and the Lazarus sonnet on the Statue of Liberty. We'll see how you do when you get to be my age and your brain starts to feel like swiss cheese (-;

C'est la vie, and thanks for the note.

Todd Juvinall

I only got 82%. Darn it.

Greg Goodknight

Todd, you need to read more! ;) But congratulations on beating the average.

Todd Juvinall

The questions I missed were one's I should not have missed. Oh well.

The comments to this entry are closed.