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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

RUBEN LACKMAN: REASONING BACKWARD THROUGH THE EYES OF LOGIC

I was reading The Summer Day is Done by R.T.Stevens, which is set in 1911 Russia and involves a British agent and the Tsar of Russia, Nicholas and his wife Alexandra, and their children, later murdered on Lenin’s oders. The opening paragraph of chapter six caught my attention, since my column is entitled Logic with Lackman.  It states: “Lenin, the most inflexible revolutionary of them all, who considered that if a man had logic, he did not need emotions,(in 1911) was active in exile. He argued systems.  It was systems that Russia required.  It did not require compassion, charity, or humanitarianism. It did not even require politics.  He was a headache to many of his fellow exiles.  He talked for hours on end.  He was unanswerable, uncontradictable.  A man of logic was like that.”
Don’t ever even think that “warm fuzzies”, “tears,” “weeping,”or “commiserating” will ever fill a genuine need.  You cannot solve a rational problem (hunger) with an irrational solution (sympathy).  The only rational, and compassionate, solution must be FOOD.
A simple dictionary definition of logic is: “the science of correct reasoning; the laws which govern correct thinking.”  It further includes the acceptance of conclusions based on verifiable facts, or truths, reached either through experience, inductive or deductive reasoning, or observation or experimentation.  Some examples of truths confirmed by these methods are: H20 makes water; 2+2=4; water runs downhill; seeds produce their own kind; power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely; compassion without substance is worthless, or as Antoine de Sainte Exupe’ry says, “To love, only to love, leads nowhere.”  Emerson’s “Self-Reliance” is probably the best essay on the connection between “reason” and “compassion” and when and where each is appropriate.  Read it!
Another way to evaluate the value of “feeling” or “emotion” as opposed to “reason” or “logic” when trying, compassionately, to “help” some one in need, is do the following. Ask yourself: if you were starving, would you rather somebody stopped, cried with you, and weeping shared your “hunger pangs” or would rather some one, just driving by, tossed you 3 “Happy Meals”?  If you were cut badly in an accident and the ambulance brought you to the emergency room, would you prefer a doctor who came in, cried at your injuries, “felt” really bad, was too emotional to suture the wound, or would you prefer a doctor who came in, looked at the wound, swabbed it and sutured it without even a tear in his eye, and asked; “ Where do I send the bill?  Which is the most rational?  Which is the most helpful?  Which is the most compassionate?     
Mandan High School was “weeding” out their library, so Lois and I went in and picked out some “throwaways” among which was The New York Times, from 1930 to 1939.  It covered FDR’s 1936 election and also the 1938 mid-term.  This is, of course, history, which we study, not because we wish to go back and live there, but so that we do not make the same mistakes, but can use “past experience”, in this case, history, to rationally judge the present world in which we live. The June 12,1936 paper listed about 20 planks in the platform of the Republican Presidential candidate; Alfred Mossman Landon.  The platform began:

“America is in peril!  The welfare of American men and women and the future of our youth are at stake. We dedicate ourselves to the preservation of their political liberty, their individual opportunities and their character as free citizens, which today for the first time are threatened by government itself.

For three long years the New Deal administration has dishonored American traditions and flagrantly betrayed the pledges upon which the Democratic party sought and received public support.

The powers of the Congress have been usurped by the President.                                
The integrity and authority of the Supreme Court have been flaunted.
The rights and liberties of American citizens have been violated.
Regulated monopoly has replaced free enterprise.
The New Deal administration constantly seeks to usurp the rights reserved to the State and the people.
It has insisted on the passage of laws contrary to the Constitution.
It has intimidated witnesses and interfered with the right to petition.
It has dishonored our country by repudiating its most sacred obligations.
It has been guilty of frightful waste and extravagance, using public funds for partisan purposes.
It has promoted investigations to harass and intimidate American citizens, at the same time denying investigations into its own improper expenditures.
It has created a vast multitude of new offices, filled them with its favorites, set up a centralized bureaucracy and sent out swarms of inspectors to harass our people.
It has bred fear and hesitation to commerce and industry, thus discouraging new enterprises, preventing employment, and prolonging the depression.
It secretly has made tariff agreements with our foreign competitors, flooding our markets with foreign commodities.
It has coerced and intimidated voters by withholding relief to those opposing its tyrannical policies.
It has destroyed the morale of many of our people and made them dependent upon government.
Appeals to passion and class prejudice have replaced reason and tolerance.
To a free people, these acts are insufferable.  This campaign cannot be waged on the traditional difference between Republican and Democratic parties.
The responsibility of this election transcends all previous political divisions.  We invite all Americans, irrespective of party, to join us in defense of American institutions.

************CONSTITUTIONAL GOVERNMENT AND FREE ENTERPRISE********
    We pledge ourselves:
To maintain the American system of constitutional and local self-government and to resist all attempts to impair the authority of the Supreme Court of the United States, the final protector of rights of our citizens against the arbitrary encroachments of the legislative and executive branches of government.  There can be no individual liberty without and independent judiciary.
To preserve the American system of free enterprise and private competition, and equality of opportunity, and to seek constant betterment in the interests of all.(This sounds almost identical to what everyone sees today as “what’s wrong” with the direction the wind is blowing in Washington.)
This continues with headings of: Re-employment-Relief-Security-Labor-Agriculture-Tariff-Monopolies-Regulation of Business-Civil Service-Government Finance (We pledge ourselves to stop the folly of uncontrolled spending)-Money and Spending-Foreign Affairs-National Defense-Bill of Rights—BUT Landon Lost- --The November 4, 1936, New York Times headline:
ROOSEVELT SWEEPS THE NATION.
BUT: Two years later, after the mid-term elections, the November 10, 1938 headline was:
COALITION IN CONGRESS TO HALT THE NEW DEAL AS REPUBLICANS APPRAISE VICTORY; Gain 80 in House, 8 in Senate, 11 Governors.  So, Americans, let’s do it again!   


Citizen of ND since 1953, Ruben has BS and BA degrees from Dickinson State University, MA in English from University of Kansas, and was a Mandan High School teacher for 20 years, College faculty member at Dickinson State, Bismarck State, and the University of Mary. Married to wife Lois since 1958 with 5 children.

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