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Illogical Logic

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“It’s the only logical solution.” How often have you heard that out of the mouths of someone trying to justify their position on anything? It’s as if simply utilizing one word will offer reassurance that what is being done is the most reasonable, if not the only, means available to solve a problem. Once the word logic has been brought into play, you can pretty much be guaranteed that whoever said it considers the topic closed.

Before I go any further with this, let’s pause to introduce a working definition of logic. This one is brought to you by the good folk over at the Wiktionary: “A method of human thought that involves thinking in a linear, step-by-step manner about how a problem can be solved.”

Obviously that’s very simplistic and comes nowhere near representing the numerous variations of logic, but I think it’s what the majority of us would think of off the top of our heads when the word logic is mentioned. At the least, it gives us the manner in which the word is used, and what it is understood to imply, in everyday conversation.

The problem with such an open-ended definition is that it leaves the word open to being used in any and all circumstances when someone wants to prove their point. Instead of starting at zero and using logical thinking to build an answer based on the needs of the circumstances, they will start at their answer then work backwards to create the situation needed to give it validity.

Politicians, of course, are most liable when it comes to the inversion of logic, especially those who are concerned with making any sort of change in policy. They no longer seem to think it is necessary to look at the problems of society and create solutions based on the needs of people. Instead, they have an agenda of things they want to accomplish and they work backwards to show the problems exist that validates their solution.

Perhaps it’s our addictions to ideology based on politics and religion that makes this possible. Socialism, Conservatism, Marxism, and Fascists alike have painted a picture of society that suits the needs of their solutions. Adherents of a religion will tell you their way is the right way because God has told them and their God is the only God.

But now instead of this illogical logic being applied in sweeping generalizations, almost every issue and almost every problem to be solved is being dealt with in this manner. Answers for everything are provided by how they best fit into the narrow worldview of those responding. This of course results in fewer original ideas and fewer policies that make less and less sense.

As an example of a policy that has this appearance, I cite the example of the Canadian Government’s much-ballyhooed concept for funding Day Care. Whether you agree with the concept of Day Care or not, I think you would agree there are people who need subsidizing. Low income families where both parents work or single parent families where the sole parent works would be the most logical beneficiaries of any sort of subsidy program as they are the ones most likely to make use of those facilities.

According to a report in today’s Globe And Mail the new policy will allow a family with one parent working that earns more than $200,000 annually to claim almost all of the $1,200 yearly subsidy — $1,076. On the other hand, a family with both parents working and making $30,000 per year will only be able to claim $199 per year towards offsetting the cost of their Day Care.

The government prior to this one had been in the process of completing negotiations with the provinces to implement a universal Day Care program that, while flawed, was at least attempting to ensure the people in most need were being given the opportunity to afford places for their children. This program, even if everybody was given the $100 a month promised by it, doesn’t even begin to cover the costs of private day care that are incurred by anybody.

The only explanation I have heard offered for this program was during the last election campaign. The Conservatives said they wanted to give people the option of whether to either utilize Day Care facilities or not. So they wouldn’t underwrite individual day care spaces but put the money into the hands of the people. But since the money seems to have ended up in the hands of the people who wouldn’t be using Day Care in the first place, where’s the logic in this program?

The logic that appears to have been applied in this case has less to do with the subject under discussion, Day Care, and more to do with two political realities. The Conservative Party of Canada has a sizable following among the traditional family values set who find the idea of Day Care abhorrent, so a plan that acutely favors people who don’t use the facilities would go over extremely well.

Secondly, poor people don’t usually vote for the Conservative Party of Canada, but those with higher incomes do. Thus this plan meets the needs of this party’s constituents far better than anything its predecessor was advocating and, in the end, that’s really what matters to all political parties: keeping their followers happy ( I could have used any party, but unfortunately for the Conservative Party of Canada, this was in the news today)

It severely limits both perceptions and solutions when ensuring solutions only fit into the neat little box of logic that forms the walls of ideology. While it’s true that logic does play a role in the reasoning, its not used as the means for finding a solution.

Instead of considering all possibilities “in a step by step linear manner” and formulate a solution that is best for all concerned, we are now presented with a fait acompli whose rationale makes no sense unless considered within the context of an ideology. Logic has become merely the latest casualty in our world of political expediency. I wonder what will be next?

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About Richard Marcus

Richard Marcus is the author of two books commissioned by Ulysses Press, "What Will Happen In Eragon IV?" (2009) and "The Unofficial Heroes Of Olympus Companion". Aside from Blogcritics his work has appeared around the world in publications like the German edition of Rolling Stone Magazine and the multilingual web site Qantara.de. He has been writing for Blogcritics.org since 2005 and has published around 1900 articles at the site.
  • Guppusmaximus

    It would’ve been a great article if it didn’t stumble into the boring world of politics. Maybe a more indepth look at the history of the word and the “numerous” variations of it’s usage and meaning would have been an interesting read.

  • sdfg

    Perfectly stated.