“I see your mouth moving
But there’s a circus coming out
Always busy proving
What the world is all about.”
- “I Don’t Believe (a word you say)”
by Ben Harper
When someone recently mentioned the disinformation that is so prevalent in our society as similar to a three-ring circus, the song mentioned above immediately came to mind.
I’m not typically a Ben Harper guy, but on the version of this song that I know best, he uses Charlie Musselwhite and his band, and the mix of blues and rock together is something that really makes the lyric, “I don’t believe a word you say, I don’t believe!” ring particularly vibrant.
That disinformation and misinformation has bled into a few local issues recently, and rather than a single topic, I thought I’d do a few quick hits, a three-ring circus, if you will.
A juggling act
Recently, an area business closed down lunch service, citing lack of available help as the reason. This sent off a firestorm in the community and on social media.
I’ve heard from many whose blame runs from those who are “milking the system” and aren’t willing to work to “a lazy generation” of young people who aren’t applying for such jobs.
Even putting aside what wage is being offered, and we are at a time in business cycles where an applying worker, especially in service industries, has significant negotiating power on wages, hours, and benefits due to the current pandemic and lack of available help, there is a significant reason that those applications aren’t coming in.
The applicants don’t exist in Huron! Allow me to explain.
The most recent month of completed unemployment figures for Beadle County had the county with a 2.4% unemployment rate.
This is actually lower than before the pandemic, as February of 2020 showed a 2.9% unemployment rate in the county.
Economists have determined a range of healthy unemployment that allows jobs in high-turnover industries such as food service, retail, and customer service to get filled as they open in a community.
That rate for a community is typically in the range of 4-6%, with lower populations at the lower end of that scale.
Quite frankly, Beadle has so many people at work right now that high-turnover jobs aren’t easily re-filled.
What does that mean?
That will likely mean that jobs in those categories will have to offer something more to entice workers - higher starting pay, flexible hours, or other additional benefits not previously offered for the same position - in order to attract workers for the same position.
This is a thing?
Recent push back against the use of masks in schools or in public echo with a worn out phrase, “Show me the study that shows they work!”
Rather than one study, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has an entire page dedicated to the science behind masking. The link is https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/science/science-briefs/masking-science-sars-cov2.html.
That page mentions 15 studies directly and has references to more than 60 papers done on masking.
The overwhelming conclusion is unanimous - masking significantly reduces the transmission of SARS-COV-2, the virus behind COVID-19.
Studies have been done on respiration impact and gas exchange and found no clinical significance. My college degree may say “Bachelor of Science,” but it’s in Marketing, so I don’t consider myself in any position to overrule the expertise of dozens of well-educated, hard-working scientists whose job it is to test each other’s hypothesis in order to prove one another wrong but actually come to the same conclusion on this issue.
Quite frankly, when speaking with friends from outside the United States, the consensus regarding the politicization of masks is quite simply, “Really?!”
In the Center Ring
Finally, three simple letters seem to scare people like none other right now - CRT.
Critical race theory, otherwise known as CRT, has been demonized by many as a way to indoctrinate youth.
‘Coming to a kindergarten near you!’ they scream. ‘This new threat to our children will destroy them in ways no education program ever has!’
Except that’s not true at all.
CRT is actually something that has been part of the academic system for more than 40 years. It is not taught in elementary schools, and true CRT would even be inappropriate in high schools.
The origin of CRT goes back to the 1970s and 1980s, and has been focused in law schools and advanced sociology programs. The actual teachings and theories involved in these complex ideas are beyond most undergraduate collegiate courses, let alone K-12 discussion.
One CRT discussion point that became more focused after the George Floyd killing and racial fallout of the summer of 2020, was taking the time to individually consider the experiences of a person due to his or her racial identity (and other diversifying identities).
This led to a realization among many K-12 educators that their own classrooms had young students who were likely not experiencing the lesson in the same way, encouraging an open dialogue and a question-and-answer with those students.
So, really, the biggest “push” in K-12 education is to encourage educators to use the EXACT SAME curriculum that they had been using and carve out some time to ask for student input and student discussion on those topics.
In speaking on the topic, one recent guest on an NPR podcast stated that in many subjects, teachers are already doing this, encouraging input after reading a story as a class in lower levels, discussing the fallout of an important battle in history class, or even examining the impact of biological engineering during high school biology courses.
These are conversations that have been happening. They’re simply being encouraged to ensure to encourage the participation of all viewpoints within the classroom. The advanced theoretical CRT learning is left at graduate level courses in college.
The point of the circus is to have you looking in so many directions that you don’t see the little things that are being done right under your nose.
With so much misinformation and disinformation being pushed, one has to wonder, what are you not seeing?