So a little background before I start this post. Last week a fellow (I believe he’s a standup comedian) named John Fugelsang had said something (I’m not sure where) about how Christians should vote for higher taxes because Jesus said to help the needy. I found out about this because Nick Searcy (actor on Justified) had tweeted to Mr. Fugelsang about it. Well I decided to write a blog post on why I didn’t think you can attach what Jesus told us to do as individuals to us essentially compelling others to help the poor. I tweeted a link to the post to both individuals and well I learned quickly that people don’t like you giving a reasoned response to their off the cuff assertion. In fact I had a number of people calling me all sorts of names. Though not all. I did have at least one good conversation that we both agreed to end since we were both frustrated by the limits of twitter and our inability to get out a complete thought in 144 characters.
I found one person particularly egregious from the beginning. In a tweet where I said that I believed that it was better for individuals to help, not government she posted:
So because I believe differently than her I don’t belong in a society. So agree with her or I am unworthy to live. That’s a very tolerant view. Views other than her own need to be expelled from society, and not just the views but the people who hold them. Super tolerant.
When I pointed out her tolerance she said this:
So again, you don’t have to tolerate others who you disagree with. I point this out because this is a common liberal thing (again, not with everyone but it is very common). Many liberals (or progressives as I should actually call them) have a veneer of tolerance but they don’t really have an inner core of tolerance. They only tolerate things they are comfortable with which really isn’t tolerance at all.
After a while of going back and forth (I’m actually not going to show everything for space considerations) and a number of progressive talking points type posts (“dems looking for progress not regress” really? Your argument is a poster slogan?) we talked about “living wage.” That brought us to the raising of the wages of people working for companies with federal contracts. I pointed her to the CBO report that said it would cost 500,000 jobs at a minimum (you can find it here http://www.cbo.gov/publication/44995 ). Here response was that:
Well I did read the report and pointed out that it was 500,000 jobs. Her counter was:
Well since she brought up “freshman level” anything I pointed out that percentage wise 500K out of 16.5 million is not less than 1%, it’s slightly over 3 % (I didn’t point out that figuring that out is 7th grade math, she was trying so hard). To that she said she didn’t care because the pros outweighed the cons (needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few I guess. I tried to explain that essentially it takes from one group (the 500K) and spreads it out over the 16.5 mill. That’s what this raise does. She said:
I guess she forgot that we were talking about people being fired to pay for other people’s raises. That’s not taxation. I didn’t point that out to her as she was getting confused and I thought I should let it go.
Somehow that turned to a discussion of socialism. She seemed to be confused here too. She claimed police and military are examples of socialism.
She seems to have difficulty understanding the difference between publicly funded and socialist. To be clear here this is the definition of socialism.
a way of organizing a society in which major industries are owned and controlled by the government rather than by individual people and companies
This does not say that any publicly funded program is inherently socialist in nature. When I point this out to her she fires back with this:
While I’m impressed by the degree (assuming she really has one) having a degree doesn’t make you right. It’s like the old joke, “What do you call the guy who graduated last in his class at medical school? Doctor.” Having a degree doesn’t make you the best or the brightest. And again, if she thinks that the government spending on the police or military is socialist I don’t think she really does know what socialism is.
She also said this:
Again this is a mischaracterization of socialism. Socialist states have existed but there was always some level of private enterprise. So the system with “no private-sectors” just doesn’t exist. I also appreciate the condescension here.
Then there’s this jem:
Yes because I’m redefining socialism. I even provided her with a definition.
Here’s more of her redefining of socialism.
No I agree that socialism is paid for through public funds, however that doesn’t mean if it’s paid for by public funds it is socialism. This is the fallacy of affirming the consequent. It goes like this:
- If P, then Q.
- Therefore P
In an example it would look like this:
- If it’s raining the grass will be wet.
- The grass is wet.
- Therefore it’s raining.
Well, no not really. The grass could be wet due to sprinklers.
Her logic is:
- If it’s socialism it’s publicly funded
- The police are publicly funded
- Therefore it’s socialism
No, that is a logical fallacy.
Then she ends with this gem of a post:
You can tell if someone has a superior intellect. They’re sure to tell you about it. In the real world I’ve found the smartest people don’t tell you they’re smart, they don’t need the self-congratulatory pat on the back.
Actually I think I know what she’s doing here, or perhaps her professors in college (again assuming that she had some) were doing. They are widening the definition of socialism in an attempt to use the fallacy of equivocation. This is where you use the same word in different senses in an argument to try to prove a point. Here’s an example:
- Doctors know a lot about medicine
- Ross Geller is a doctor
- Ross Geller knows a lot about medicine.
You see doctor is used in two different senses, medical doctor and someone with a PhD. Someone who has a PhD in paleontology (Ross is a TV character for those who don’t know) wouldn’t necessarily know much about medicine. In the same way they want to say.
- Having police is socialist.
- Having police is good.
- Socialism (single payer healthcare for example) is good.
They are trying to set up their own logical fallacy. That’s why I thought this post was important. It needs to be said that police/fire/military are not the same as single payer health care, redistribution of wealth, etc. We can discuss the benefits of those but let’s have an honest debate.