Nov 7, 2009

Splenda, Story Problems, and Stupidity

When money is your god, there is never enough.

I read in the paper today where the Splenda plant in McIntosh, Alabama is "ahead of schedule" in closing. Is this supposed to be good news? Pre-tax profits were $185,000,000. Most of the 120 workers are laid off. Production will continue in Singapore.

Ok, so somewhere in Singapore, people are working and children are being fed. I'm happy for them. But it still doesn't make sense to the ones in Alabama. They did all the right things and lost their jobs. It only makes sense to those who worship money. All they can think of is more, more, more.

When I teach math to first graders, I explain that story problems often have "clue words" that tell you if you are to add or subtract. If the story talks about how you have something, and then you get MORE, you are to add. If the question is comparative, how many MORE do you have than your friend, then you subtract.

How would you explain this confusing story problem? Adding profits equals fewer jobs equals more hungry children, whose bellies won't be filled by Singapore Splenda. Fewer jobs equals more family stress, breakdown of families, neighborhoods, societies.

The gap between the rich and poor grows ever wider. Welcome to Brazil II.

What can you do to help feed those hungry babies today?

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