Essay on Critical Thinking

Abrahem Helal University of Maryland University College DMBA 610 / Section 9045 / Individual Research Paper 1 Critical Thinking This paper, examination, report, or the section thereof for which I have indicated responsibility, is my own work. Any assistance I received in its preparation is acknowledged within the report or examination, in accordance with academic practice. For any data, ideas, words, diagrams, pictures, or other information from any source, quoted or not, I have cited the sources fully and completely in footnotes and bibliographical entries, as required.
Furthermore, I certify that the material was prepared by me specifically for this class and has not been submitted, in whole or significant part, to any other class in this university or elsewhere, or used for any purpose other than satisfying the requirements of this class, except that I am allowed to submit this material to a professional publication, peer reviewed journal, or professional conference. In adding my name following the word ‘Signature’, I intend that this certification will have the same authority and authenticity as a document executed with my hand-written signature. SignatureAbrahem HelalDateFebruary 17, 2013 Table of Contents Introduction3 Step 1: What are the issue and conclusions? 3 Step 2: What are the reasons? 4 Step 3: What words or phrases are ambiguous? 5 Step 4: What are the value and descriptive assumptions and conflicts? 7 Step 5: Are there any fallacies in the reasoning? 8 Step 6: How good is the evidence? 9 Step 7: Are there any rival causes? 10 Step 8: Are the statistics deceptive? 11 Step 9: What significant information has been omitted? 2 Step 10: What reasonable conclusions are possible? 13 References14 Introduction The purpose of this paper is to apply each of the steps of the critical thinking model developed by (Browne & Keeley, 2012) to assess the arguments presented in a memo prepared by Ms. Mary Ford (personal communication, January 30, 2012), hereafter referred to as “the memo”, who is the Director of the Amalgamated Public Employees Union (APEU) Local No. 121 to Mr.
Hector Fuentes, the President of APEU Local No. 121, contesting a memo drafted by New Mexico Governor Gloria Gainor (personal communication, October 20, 2011) informing the APEU Local No. 121 of the intent to outsource and privatize the New Mexico Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) information systems management function. Step 1: What are the issue and conclusions? (Browne & Keeley, 2012, Chapter 2) Issue:In the memo the issue described is of a prescriptive nature.

It is one that is “ethical or moral in nature and raises questions about what is right and wrong, desirable or undesirable, good or bad” (Browne & Keeley, 2012, p. 20). Specifically the issue is should Governor Gainor proceed with the proposed outsourcing and privatization of the New Mexico DMV information systems management function which would potentially adversely affect state employees, 43 of whom are members of APEU Local No. 121. Conclusion:In the memo Ms. Ford concludes that the APEU Local No. 21 should rebut the Governor’s proposed privatization of the DMV information systems management function “as an unfair management practice” that will lead to APEU members losing their jobs in a manner which “violates the principles of the Pendleton Act of 1883 “which stipulates that government jobs be awarded on the basis of merit and made it illegal to arbitrarily and capriciously fire or demote government employees” (Milestone Documents, n. d. ) Step 2: What are the reasons? (Browne & Keeley, 2012, Chapter 3)
According to Browne & Keeley, “the worth of a conclusion cannot be determined until the reasons behind the opinion are identified. Reasons are explanations or rationales for why a conclusion should be believed” (Browne & Keeley, 2012, pp. 29-30). In the memo Ms. Ford gives the following reasons to rationalize her conclusion. 1) The proposed outsourcing and privatization of the DMV information systems management function is “anti-American and an assault on APEU Local No. 121 members”. ) The proposed privatization will “set the stage for state government to decrease employee wages in the future” because foreign companies will vie for this privatization and accept wages lower than APEU Local 121 members. 3) Outsourcing public services to the private corporations is not good for the economy, leads to instability, and only serves to benefit corporations who are only concerned with turning a profit. “If corporate greed isn’t satisfied, the companies will pull out leaving the public high and dry”. ) Outsourcing and privatization are the cause of the current recession and the proposed privatization will only exasperate unemployment in New Mexico. 5) Permitting the proposed privatization will result in the same thing happening in other departments leading to further disbursement of union members and diminished union strength. 6) The proposed privatization is nothing more than the Governor “attempting to demonstrate that management controls the union and to force out older experienced workers”. ) Privatization of public sector responsibilities will result in “the state losing control of its information systems and citizen data will be compromised”. 8) Outsourcing doesn’t save money, as the Governor has suggested. “Costs associated with overseeing third-party contractors adds 20% of hidden costs to the price of each outsourced government contract”. 9) Customer service will suffer as a result of outsourcing to foreign companies. “There will inevitably be communication and culture clash issues which will only further costs”. 0) Privatization and outsourcing violates the Pendleton Act of 1883 which was “established to protect government employees from illegal termination or demotion” (Wikipedia, n. d. , p. 1). Step 3: What words or phrases are ambiguous? (Browne & Keeley, 2012, Chapter 4) According to Browne & Keeley, “ambiguity refers to the existence of multiple possible meanings for a word or phrase” (Browne & Keeley, 2012, p. 41). Ambiguity results whenever a word or a phrase can have more than one distinct and valid meaning and can usually be eliminated through extra information.
In the memo there are several ambiguous words and phrases that require further explanation. 1) The Governor states that privatization will result in “approximately” $250,000. 00 per year in budgeted personnel costs. What does approximately mean? Is it plus or minus $5,000. 00, $10,000. 00, $50,000. 00? The word approximately does not give a clear picture of the projected savings. 2) The Governor promises union members will be offered “similar positions” in other departments as they arise through attrition. What does the Governor actually mean by similar positions?
The word similar can be interpreted in many different ways and requires further clarification. 3) Ms. Ford states that privatization is an “assault” on our union and “anti-American”. Both assault and anti-American are easily interpreted in various ways depending on the reader. Assault can mean unlawful or violent act. Following the word assault up with anti-American gives it a little more clarity in the context of this memo, however anti-American can mean many different things as well. 4) Ms. Ford states that privatization will lead to “decreased” employee wages.
While any decrease isn’t desirable, a slight / small decrease may be tolerable. As such the word decreased requires further clarification. 5) Ms. Ford states that she had lunch the other day with a “group” of union members and “everyone” was in agreement. What was the size of the group and who is everyone? Is everyone those that she went to lunch with and if so just how many people is that? Or is everyone all the members of APEU Local 121. Everyone is a vague term to describe a group of people and requires further clarification. 6) Ms. Ford states that New Mexico will “lose control” of information systems and data will be compromised.
The phrase lose control has a loose interpretation. In many instances where public information is managed by private entities that information is solely the property of the government. Her use of the phrase lose control implies that the government will no longer have any claim or oversight to the public information being managed by the private companies. Step 4: What are the value and descriptive assumptions and conflicts? (Browne & Keeley, 2012, Chapter 5) Assessing value and descriptive assumptions serves to identify hidden assumptions specified to justify a conclusion.
Browne & Keeley define a value assumption as “an implicit preference for one value over another in a particular context. Value assumptions are beliefs about how the world should be” (Browne & Keeley, 2012, p. 59). Browne & Keeley go on to define descriptive assumptions as “beliefs about the way the world was, is, or will be” (Browne & Keeley, 2012, p. 65). In the context of the memo there are several value and descriptive assumptions. To begin with Ms. Ford states that that the proposed privatization is an assault on the union as well as anti-American. As a union member herself, Ms.
Ford is partial to the union and has a clear interest in protecting union jobs. Her opinion is subjective and not a proven fact. It is an arguable assumption about the way the world is. In fact “the real issue is not so much public vs. private, it is monopoly vs. competition. A key issue in the trend towards privatization is the introduction of competition (e. g. , public-public competition, public-private competition, competition between public-private ventures, public-nonprofit competition) to increase efficiency, reduce costs, and improve quality and customer satisfaction” (Nightingale & Pindus, 1997).
Ms. Ford goes on to assert that based on her personal experience and those of her brother-in-law, who was downsized out of a job, this pattern of privatization, if not stopped, will continue and will further exasperate the existing recession. She goes on to allege that there will not be ample replacement jobs and that union members will be forced to accept lower wages due to increased competition. These are assumptions which demonstrate the way she believes the world will be. Step 5: Are there any fallacies in the reasoning? (Browne & Keeley, 2012, Chapter 6)
Browne & Keeley define a fallacy “as a reasoning trick used as a mechanism for persuasion. It is an attack or insult used as an argument rather than directly addressing the reasoning in a comment” (Browne & Keeley, 2012, pp. 74-75). In the context of the memo the most obvious fallacy is Ms. Ford emotionally referring to Governor Gainor as a bully, an ad hominem fallacy described by Browne & Keeley as “against the man or against the person. It is attacking the messenger, in this case the Governor, instead of addressing the message. ” (Browne & keeley, 2012, pp. 75).
Throughout the entire memo Ms. Ford uses glittering generality words such as “anti-American” and “instability” which are both vague and emotionally charged in attempt to gain support. The use of glittering generality words such as these do not support her argument and only serve as an attempt to exhort an emotional reaction by diverting attention from the issue. Other fallacies employed by Ms. Ford include the slippery slope fallacy. Ms. Ford declares that if the proposed privatization is allowed to happen then this pattern will continue on into other departments and will heighten an existing recession.
This is an assertion on her part that the proposed privatization will “set off an uncontrollable chain of undesirable events” (Browne & Keeley, 2012, p. 77). Finally, Ms. Ford concludes her argument with affirmatory statements such as “our members will lose their jobs to gain marginal efficiencies” and “violates the merit principle enshrined in the Pendleton Act of 1883”. These are arguments in which “the conclusion is assumed in the reasoning, or rather, begging the question fallacy” (Brown & Keeley, 2012, p. 85). Step 6: How good is the evidence? (Browne & Keeley, 2012, Chapters 7 & 8)
Browne & Keeley state that critical thinking requires evaluation of the evidence provided and in doing so one must ask what is the proof, where is the evidence and how reliable is it? In the memo Ms. Ford inserts the personal experience of her brother-in-law, who was downsized in a different state and remains unemployed, as proof the proposed privatization will result in the same for her and other APEU Local No. 121 union members. However she fails to provide any evidence of why her brother-in-law was downsized or the reasons for which he remains unemployed.
She makes the hasty generalization that because this happened to her brother-in-law it will happen to the members of APEU Local No. 121 and continue on from there. Further Ms. Ford attempts to engage the Pendleton Act of 1883 as an argument against the proposed privatization stating that it is “unfair and in violation” of the act. However she omits any explanation of the Pendleton Act which stipulates that “government jobs should be awarded on the basis of merit. It provided for selection of government employees through competitive examinations.
It also made it unlawful to fire or demote covered employees for political reasons or to require them to give political service or payment” (Digital History, 2012). In no place does the Pendleton Act state that public service employees cannot be downsized or moved to other departments or positions in pursuit of increased efficiencies. Further, Ms. Ford asserts that the proposed outsourcing will be awarded to a foreign firm. She provides absolutely no evidence that this will happen and in fact makes a rash assumption that has no merit. Finally, Ms.
Ford makes a final and concluding emotional plea to Union President Hector Fuentes stating that the proposed privatization is unjust and will result in the loss of jobs. In doing so she is attempting to persuade Mr. Fuentes to follow is heart and intuition. Step 7: Are there any rival causes? (Browne & Keeley, 2012, Chapter 9) Browne & Keeley define a rival cause as “a plausible alternative explanation that can explain why a certain outcome will or has occurred” (Browne & Keeley, 2012, p. 128). In the context of the memo, Ms.
Ford states that the proposed privatization will lead to union workers having to accept lower wages as “foreign agents will bid for the contract and accept lower wages than union members receive”. She continues on to declare that if this is not stopped it will lead to the same thing happening in other departments with the government continuing to both downsize union employees and drive down wages in the future. This is a post hoc fallacy in that she is assuming this will happen simply because of this single privatization proposal by Governor Gainor.
Her statements are a casual oversimplification where she “relies on factors that are insufficient to substantiate her conclusions” (Browne & keeley, 2012, p. 131). Ms. Ford goes on to say that the proposed privatization will lead to “communication and culture clash problems” resulting in diminished customer service. Again, this is a baseless casual oversimplification and lacks merit. Finally, Ms. Ford implores Mr. Fuentes “not to give in to the Governor’s proposal as the government will not respect APEU Local No. 121 power in future negotiations of any kind”.
In doing so one must ask what her true objective is. Is it to protect union jobs or to maintain a fighting position with government? Step 8: Are the statistics deceptive? (Browne & Keeley, 2012, Chapter 10) Browne & Keeley state that “statistics can and often lie. They do not necessarily prove what they appear to prove. One must ask are the statistics deceptive” (Browne & Keeley, 2012, p. 142)? In the context of the memo Ms. Ford gives two distinct figures and fails to provide any supporting evidence that they are indeed factual.
First she states that “according to her brother-in-law, management uses the promise of rehire to gain union support for outsourcing and 80% of the time they don’t keep their promise”. This statistic was a figure she was given by her unemployed relative that was recently downsized and is likely an exaggerated figure that has not been scrutinized. She goes on to state that privatization “does not save money and that according to a recent Wall Street newspaper, the additional costs of overseeing third-party contractors adds 20% of hidden costs to the price of each government outsourcing contract”.
Once again one must ask which “recent” Wall Street newspaper did this statistic come from and what other supporting sources are there to supplement this figure. Finally, Ms. Ford states that she went to lunch with a group of union members and that “everyone was in agreement”. In doing so she attempts to imply that the union as a whole is in agreement and will support the re-election of Mr. Fuentes. However, she fails to state the size of the group she had lunch with. A group can be as few as two people. Her failure to give specifics on the group diminishes from her alleging that all union members were in agreement.
Step 9: What significant information has been omitted? (Browne & Keeley, 2012, Chapter 11) Browne & Keeley state that “significant omitted information is information that shapes the reasoning. Arguments often attempt to deceive and the arguer often will have different values, beliefs, and attitudes” (Browne & Keeley, 2012, pp. 153-154). Omitted information can alter a conclusion and thus it is essential to recognize when relevant information has been omitted. In the context of the memo both Governor Gainor and Ms. Ford omit relevant information.
Governor Gainor states that the proposed privatization will save the state approximately $250,000. 00 per year in budgeted annual personnel costs and that those who lose their positions as a result will be moved to other similar positions as vacancies arise through attrition. Governor Gainor fails to explain what the other similar positions are and how they will be filled as vacancies arise since the term attrition literally means a reduction in size. Her statement is conflicting and lacks meaningful information that could alter the conclusion. In making her argument Ms.
Ford leaves out an array of relevant information in blaming outsourcing as the cause of the current recession. She provides absolutely no evidence to substantiate this clam and inserts the under detailed personal experience of her brother-in-law to establish her case. Further Ms. Ford includes several statistics in an attempt to make the case against privatization. First she states that according to her brother-in-law, 80% management does not keep their promise for rehire. Next she states that there are an additional 20% in hidden costs when outsourcing public service jobs. In presenting both statistics Ms.
Ford fails to provide any supporting information to confirm these figures. Finally, Ms. Ford concluded her argument by stating the Governor should abandon the wasteful convention center project. At no point does she provide any reinforcing information to show the convention center project is indeed wasteful. Instead it appears to be a comment based on personal and biased opinion. Step 10: What reasonable conclusions are possible? (Browne & Keeley, 2012, Chapter 12) Browne & Keeley place significant emphasis on “qualifying conclusions by putting them into context” (Browne & Keeley, 2012, p. 164).
In other words it is important to understand the reasons to draw the conclusions. Having read and scrutinized the memo the following is a short list of conclusions that can be gleaned along with what can be drawn from supporting reasons: 1) The state of New Mexico could potentially save $250,000. 00 per year in budgeted personnel costs but will first need to work closely with APEU Local No. 121 members to give them a clear understanding of their future employment and compensation prospects. 2) There are hidden costs associated with outsourcing that need to be considered and may make privatization an unviable option. ) Outsourcing the information systems management function of the New Mexico DMV poses security risks that must be explored. These security risks and associated hidden costs of third party oversight may make privatization unpractical. 4) There are other public projects that can be looked at for state budgetary savings. However, APEU Local No. 121 members must realize that other projects likely employ other union members and cuts to those projects will affect unrelated employees. References Browne, M. N. , & Keeley, S. M. (2012). Asking the right questions (10th ed. ). Pearson Education, Inc.
Digital History. (2012). The pendleton act (1883). Retrieved from http://www. digitalhistory. uh. edu/disp_textbook. cfm? smtID=3&psid=1098 Milestone Documents. (n. d. ). Pendleton civil service act. Retrieved from http://www. milestonedocuments. com/documents/view/pendleton-civil-service-act Nightingale, D. , & Pindus, N. (1997). Privatization of public social services: a background paper. Retrieved from http://www. urban. org/publications/407023. html Wikipedia. (n. d. ). Pendleton civil reform act. Retrieved from http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Pendleton_Civil_Service_Reform_Act