I’m traveling back to Oklahoma from an academic conference so I only have time for a short post today. I’ll be back on a full schedule Wednesday.
I know I’ve been picking on The Oklahoman editorial board recently—that’s a joke, of course, because I’ve been actively responding to its inane, illogical form of argumentation for years on this blog and in earlier print formats—but because of its shameful rhetorical crimes committed against the good people of this state for decades it deserves all the criticism anyone can muster.
In my last post, I criticized the newspaper’s editorial support for school vouchers not only because vouchers are a completely bad choice for Oklahoma but also because the editorial I critiqued used unsubstantiated anecdotal stories for its claims. The newspaper’s editorial was one of its classic cases of shabby argumentation, which includes no empirical evidence and absolutely no extended response to its counter argument.
Let me use an anecdotal story of my own: The Oklahoman editorial page dumbs down our students and makes it difficult to teach real argumentation at the high school and college level because its asinine drivel trickles down to or is an expression of the type of disingenuous conservative political “thought,” which has now culminated in making the fanatical Donald Trump the leading Republican candidate for president.
I’ll admit the above anecdotal argument contains no empirical evidence, and it would be difficult to prove without substantial surveys, studies and interviews. What The Oklahoman, however, would NEVER admit is that its forms of unargumentation, deployed by other reductionist pundits like those on the national Fox News actually created the circumstances which have led to Trump leading the Republican field for president.
I do need to make this short. I want to refer to an editorial published Sunday in The Oklahoman in which it outlined the case that a legislative move to try to stop the recent income tax cut from 5.25 percent to 5 percent is unconstitutional. Here’s that editorial. Those who want to stop the cut are wisely concerned about the current state budget revenue failure and a predicted budget shortfall next year of $1.3 billion.
In The Know: Senate panel votes to reverse income tax cut; Lawmaker Kills High-Interest Loan Bill; & more… https://t.co/srwscZw9ex
— OK Policy (@OKPolicy) February 24, 2016
Here’s the difference again between actual argumentation and just sloppy reasoning: I will admit that The Oklahoman makes a good case against stopping the cut because it could be construed unconstitutional because of established law. (Note the concession.) But what makes this particular newspaper editorial so bad is that it doesn’t fully discuss the inanity of passing tax cuts based on revenue triggers in the boom and bust fiscal space we call the great state of Oklahoma.
Legislators pass laws that drop the income tax to a certain rate based on revenue amounts. So it comes to pass, people. Then a few months later those revenue amounts plunge so drastically the cut itself seems meaningless and irresponsible. It’s a way of doing business that shows just how crazy the conservative model of governance has become over the last decade or more here in Oklahoma.
I promised a short post, and some of my readers and most of my non-readers think I’m too “wordy,” anyway, so I’ll leave it at that. The bottom line is The Oklahoman deploys sophomoric forms of argumentation on its editorial page, and when the newspaper gets sold yet again, and it will, let’s hope the new owners implement more intelligent and inclusive forms of making claims.
If the Republican candidates for president and their debates this year have taught us anything it’s the reaffirmation that truth, indeed, has a progressive bias.