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Truth obscured by smoke, mirrors

Out on a LimbRoss L. TalbottGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Watching all the political blather, I am reminded of how deceptive words can be. Even a true statement can be made in such a way as to be deceptive. For instance, if someone asks, “How old are you?” and your response is, “Well, I’m a lot closer to sixty than to fifty.” The obvious conclusion by the questioner is that you must be 58 or 59. You could, however, be 70, and the answer would still be true.A political ad that criticizes oil companies’ “exorbitant profits” tries to convince you that a large dollar amount of profit is evil. What they don’t say is how many billions the companies have invested and what percent the profit represents. A 10 percent profit on a billion-dollar investment would be one hundred million. That’s a fair return, but to us who invest a thousand and get back a hundred, it sounds terrible.Also consider the oil company stockholders who are happy to get a 10 percent return. Consider the claim that a politician is bad because he voted against a bill that purported to do some obvious wonderful thing.You need to know all the circumstances. What was it going to cost taxpayers? How was it to be implemented? How many unacceptable riders were attached? Were there unanticipated side effects? Was it really a wolf dressed up to look like a lamb?In court they have you swear to tell “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” The central feature here is “the whole truth.” The truth can, in reality, promote a lie if it’s not the whole truth.Another statement that really bothers me in its deception is the continual claim that “school teachers are underpaid.”First of all, if they quote a figure, it’s the salary of a beginning teacher. Let’s talk about tenured teachers’ salaries and then add in benefits such as medical and PERA.We also need to compare the demands of teaching to the rest of the work force. Generally, workers are required to work five days a week (40 hours) which equates to 260 days per year. Less maybe a week vacation and a couple of paid holidays. That’s around 2,080 hours per year.The school year is 180 days or 1,440 hours. Someone asked a teacher friend of mine what he liked most about teaching. His reply was “June, July and August.”If you are a member of the NEA and reading this, you may need a tranquilizer. When you look at the whole picture you discover that we as a nation are nineteenth in graduation rate. Multimillion dollar buildings, higher teacher pay, great athletic programs and preschool are not the answer.Let’s go with full disclosure and competition.A major part of the problem is that public education teaches children to accept the mantra of entitlement instead of teaching critical analysis and personal responsibility.Again, it’s the fact that preconceived ideas are the greatest block to truth.Over the next few weeks we will be drowning in political hype. I’m inclined to just push the off button, but the stakes are too high to just ignore it all. I realize that it’s almost impossible to sort it all out. But try, be a little cynical. Try to figure out the whole story. Search for the truth.The motto of my university is Veritas Vos Liberabit. Loosely translated, truth sets you free.When truth is so hard to sort out from the smoke and mirrors, should people who can’t figure out the ballot be allowed to vote, or how about people who can’t speak English? It’s tough enough for a fifth-generation American.The issues are so critical and so complex that we may have to resort to prayer. In fact, I suspect that without divine intervention we are doomed to repeat a part of history we don’t want again.We as a nation are looking weak and the predators are gathering. The fall of Rome will just look like an alley fistfight compared to America’s demise.May America bless God!Ross L. Talbott lives in New Castle.


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