One of the hallmarks of intelligence is the ability to keep an open mind when having a discussion with someone whose viewpoint is diametrically opposed to yours. However, while it is true there are at least two sides to every subject, it doesn’t necessarily follow that each side deserves consideration. Often, the two sides are a right one and a wrong one.
The author goes on to list monstrous events of proven evil, such as the Holocaust and the Norway shooting. In fact, of eight paragraphs, he uses the entire top half of his op-ed to set up this sort of straw-man fallacy.
Being a professor, this is not an accident.
There’s a saying in both business and the law: When the facts are arrayed on your side, you use them. When they’re not, you pound the table, scream and shout and hope your opponent doesn’t realize you’re bullshitting him.
The operative theory here is to use intentional logical fallacy as a means of cutting of actual debate, lest the truth of your position come to the fore and you lose that debate. The author of this hack job then says:
Discussing our financial crisis, Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman, wrote: “No, what makes America look unreliable isn’t budget math, it’s politics. And please, let’s not have the usual declarations that both sides are at fault. Our problems are almost entirely one-sided — specifically, they’re caused by the rise of an extremist right that is prepared to create repeated crises rather than give an inch on its demands.”
One doesn’t need to have won a Nobel Prize in economics to come to the same conclusion as Mr. Krugman. One side, composed of the majority in the tea party and their Republican allies, insists that America should solve its deficit problem by cutting education, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. This wrong side would cut funding for environmental control and the rebuilding of our infrastructure, as well as for other vital programs. They adamantly refuse to consider the opposing side’s reasons for being unwilling to make drastic cuts in those programs, or their demand that millionaires, billionaires and huge corporations share the burden by paying their fair share of taxes.
Really? Entirely one-sided? Who, pray tell, authored and signed Medicare Part D? Who put forward Medicare in the first place? Was that “one-sided”, despite the known fact at the time that there was a demographic time bomb already in existence that would guarantee the outcome we now stare down?
Who, pray tell, refused to get tax policy under control when they had not only the White House but also both houses of Congress and thus could pass whatever the hell they wanted?
The facts are this:
- You could tax the income of everyone who made over $1m at an incremental rate of 100% and not close the deficit. Never mind that doing so would be immediately responded to by nobody making over $1 million, since there’s no reason to work hard enough to earn something when you will get to keep none of it.
- The “tax preferences for oil companies and corporate jets” are a minuscule part of the problem. We’re talking about tens of billions of dollars annually and the problem is $1,700 billion. That is, it’s a single-digit percentage of the deficit. Those are convenient leftist talking points but any claim that closing them would provide a solution is a bald and intentional lie. Yes, we should close those loopholes simply to deny the left these talking points, but any argument that these changes would be material to the outcome is an intentional and public fraud.
- Likewise, “corporate taxes” is a lie because all taxes are paid by people. Since the four lowest quintiles make up 80% of the population (by definition) and you need about $150,000 in income a year to get into the top quintile, if you raise corporate taxes you’re going to effectively raise taxes on the four bottom quintiles as well as the top one, since those costs will simply by passed through.
The “wrong side” has correctly identified the problem: The Federal Government has never managed to collect more than about 18% of GDP in taxes on an “all-in” basis. That’s $2.7 trillion predicated on a GDP of $15 trillion. We’re spending a trillion more than that right now.
Yes, we can (and should) fix the tax code. Chief among those fixes are guaranteeing that everyone have skin in the game – if you have income, you pay taxes – somehow. This means that “voting for a living” becomes unprofitable because everyone gets assessed for the programs you vote for.
If you have a system that doesn’t conform to this maxim then some group of people will forever attempt to steal more and more from everyone else since there is no check and balance against them doing so.
Perhaps the people will pay for these programs and perhaps they will not. That’s a decision for society to make. But what we cannot do is continue to spend more than the government taxes – that is, more than it takes in.
You either pay for every program you want or you don’t have the program. That’s the only sustainable path forward and we either do it voluntarily or we will do it on an involuntary basis. What this clown is in fact arguing for is the involuntary option – that is, he is in fact arguing for civil and political unrest, and perhaps the collapse of our government.