10 December 2012

Paid to Think

In a world of jobs, thinking is not a requirement. Thinking, in fact, is a detriment to productivity. One does not pay the stocker at HyVee to think nor the person at the cash register at McDonalds. The last thing an employer of these people wants is a workforce who spends its time on the job thinking about anything. The common opinion on teenagers working, which make up the vast majority of these employees in these jobs, is that they are good training and experience for adulthood. And in fact they are wonderfully good training for a career of working without thought which is expected of most of us most of the time. An exception to this mandated life without thought is the legal profession. The idea of thinking is an integral part of the law school curriculum. For many this is a difficult concept to grasp and even more difficult to practice. It is a new experience for most and thinking can be difficult if one has never done it. A large number who enter law school leave shortly thereafter having soon come to the conclusion that thinking is not for them. A graduate of law school really doesn't know much more than when he matriculated; but presumably the graduate now has the ability to actually think about issues presented. Unfortunately lawyers fall into the general malaise of the nonthinking population by limiting their thinking processes to their professional duties. They, like the general population, identify. They identify with a political party, a religious organization, a social network. Once this has been accomplished, no thinking is required. That job has already been done. There exists nothing in daily life that requires thought. And by thought I do not mean deciding on what to have for dinner or whether or not to put an addition on the house. Being a creative chef or builder of additions are activities, not thinking. For most of us, when not working we are engaged in activities. Activities are another substitute for thought. The major activity appears to be television. One can not drive down the street looking through windows, day or night, and if anyone is present, the television is on. Some engage in more than one activity at any given time such as watch television and cook. Thinking requires two things, at a minimum: effort and knowledge. Without facts one has nothing to think about and without effort the facts are de minimis. One only needs a brief discussion with a high school graduate to realize that our public schools are not in place to produce thinking adults; they exist to incorporate and indoctrinate but most importantly they inculcate respect for authority. An example of this is the successful effort by the schools to convince our children that it is great to be an American; that America is the greatest country in the world. I'm not saying that it isn't, but why is it or why may it not be. This is something we definitely do not want our citizens to give thought to.