1. "We must oppose this action now, or we do a disservice to our members and will regret it later."
2. "I had lunch the other day with a group of members, and everyone was in agreement that if you opposed this measure, they would vote for you…. This will set the stage for your re-election next year at the end of your present term." The lace of threat of a negative consequence for the decision maker is also palpable in this statement, as it appeals to self-preservation.
3. "I speak for truth and common sense…" is also a shot at arguing based on the fallacy of glittering generality.
While statistics are used to support the arguments, questionable authority on the matter are used such as the case of the brother-in-law, who has not demonstrated as an expert on the issue at hand, and Wikipedia, which is a helpful tool but whose contents are not an entirely credible source of value-free information. Lastly, the fallacy of red herring is committed as in the statement: "If the Governor wants to save money, she should abandon that wasteful convention center project, and leave our Union alone."
7. How good is the evidence?
The substantial information is omitted when citing cases such as the author's brother-in-law's experience to support the argument that outsourcing is the cause for the recession that resulted to his dismissal from service. Why was the brother-in-law laid off? Was it based on his performance? What was the management's policy on dismissing employees from service? These important information were completely absent in the entire text. In citing the brother-in-law's statement that "management uses a promise for rehire to gain union support for outsourcing and 80% of the time they don't keep their promise," what was the basis for this assertion? Are there any studies that support this? Instead of citing Wikipedia and another person's experience, legal cases and other objective and readily verifiable public data could have been used to support the conclusion. Referring to a Wall Street newspaper to claim that additional costs will be incurred as a result of "overseeing third-party contractors" without plainly identifying which broadsheet falls short of providing a credible source for such a potentially publicly verifiable data. Studies may be referenced from the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, which oversees the implementation of the Federal Activities Inventory Reform Act of 1998, as well as studies on privatization and outsourcing of purportedly sensitive services such as defense (see Taibl, 1997).
8. Are there rival causes?
Privatization and the subsequent outsourcing are presented as the threat to union members' job security, which is used as a basis of opposing the proposal. Little is said, however, about the contents of the governor's proposal itself. Causal oversimplification is committed by presenting privatization and outsourcing as the primary source of threat to union members' job security and other supposedly negative repercussions. Because of the paucity of plausible arguments in the memorandum, it makes it particularly challenging to pinpoint rival causes to the author's conclusion. In presenting the case of another person (brother-in-law's dismissal from service and continued unemployment), a rival cause may be poor performance and lack of effort to grab other employment opportunities. Privatization and outsourcing in the cases cited by the author may have created instability, for instance, because of several reasons such as peace and order situation in a particular locality, the liquidity of the company undertaking the contract, or the failure on the part even of the state in implementing regulatory measures of privatization and outsourcing contracts. Communication problems and culture clash resulting from outsourcing may be brought about by poor training of human resources in terms of providing adequate information on the client country.
9. Are the statistics deceptive?
The memorandum contained limited statistics, which are not even sourced from credible references. This further places the arguments at a weak point because assertions are not supported by readily verifiable and objective information. For instance, the statement "management uses a promise for rehire to gain union support for outsourcing and 80% of the time they don't keep their promise" demands that it be supported by credible studies that demonstrate such assertion. Eighty percent is a significant statistic considering that the information it intends to convey say that majority of companies that take over government services through privatization would deceive other parties to close the deal.
10. What significant information is omitted?
Apart from this apparent lack of statistics based on credible sources, there are no details about the governor's proposal. Also, there is paucity of more quantifiable data, which will clearly prove why the proposal will be detrimental to the welfare, in this case, the security of tenure of union members, and the union itself. Responding point-by-point to the contents of the proposals may have provided the platform for strengthening the case to endorse the opposition or rejection of the proposal.
11. What reasonable conclusions are possible?
Going back to the original conclusion that the proposal to privatize to the information management system of the DoT, the question as to whether to accept, reject, or even negotiate around it can be answered in different possible ways. First, the proposal should be rejected when negotiations for the terms of the contract do not include inputs from the union. On the converse, it should be accepted if both management (in this case, the State) and the union will agree to represent the counter-proposals of the union. Second, the proposal should be rejected if, based on hard and conclusive studies and evidence, that previous undertakings to privatize public services show that such action would not bring efficiency is service delivery. Third, the proposal should be rejected on the basis that the supposed state savings will be not used for social services such as health and education, as supported by official declaration (i.e., executive order signed by the governor).
Browne, M. And S. Keeley. (2007). Asking the Right Questions: A Guide to Critical Thinking. NJ: Prentice Hall.
O' Connor, B. (2004). A Brief history of anti-Americanism: From cultural criticism to terrorism. Australasian Journal of American Studies, 77-92.
Hollander, P. (2002). The Politics of Envy. The New…