Large organizations, including government, which is of course the largest organization of all, have actually become completely disconnected with what actually matters to people. … What behavioral economics shows, time after time, is in human behavior and behavioral change there is a very strong disproportionality at work: that actually what changes our behavior and what changes our attitudes toward things is not actually proportional to the degree of expense entailed or to the degree of force that is applied.
After invalidating more than 30,000 Nader-Camejo signatures on dubious and highly technical grounds – for example, because signers used informal names such as “Bill” instead of “William,” or because their current and registered addresses did not match – Commonwealth Court removed the candidates from the ballot. Then it ordered them to pay their challengers more than $80,000 in litigation costs.
This was touted on Mother Jones’s twitter feed as “the best best [sic] take on the deficit commission report.“ Of course, I was skeptical. The first two paragraphs are pure argumentum ad populum and a waste of time and bandwidth. The real argument begins below the chart, and demonstrates why I no longer isolate the deficit from other concerns about economic prosperity: the government can solve much of its deficit problem by simply raising revenues—but forcefully taking more money from productive people does not make a nation more prosperous. In fact, it tends to have the opposite effect. This point seems to be lost on Kevin Drum, who decries anti-tax “jihads” and “paeans” to cutting the federal government as he pooh-poohs the proposed 21%-of-GDP revenue cap without suggesting a more appropriate figure.
The unbearable unbearableness of Mother Jones’s twitter feed: These quotes were taken from a portion of a Rand Paul interview with Wolf Blitzer. The specific question on the table was whether Paul would oppose an extra tax on people making over $250,000 a year. Apparently having nothing relevant to say on the ultimate issue, Mother Jones wastes bandwidth by repeating and lampooning Rand Paul’s philosophical musings. I was looking for either a: “Yes, I agree with Rand Paul that wealth should not be forcefully confiscated from the wealthy and redistributed to the poor, but I do not follow Paul’s reasoning. The rich and the poor are not, in fact, interconnected…” or a “No, I disagree with Rand Paul. The government should forcefully confiscate money from the wealthy and distribute it to the poor. Allow me to explain where Rand Paul is mistaken: The rich are not like the rest of us. They are of a different ilk. Therefore, the government may justifiably apply different property rights to them than they apply to the rest of us. The cut off line between the rich and the poor has been determined by various statistical models to be $XX,XXX.XX.” At least that would have been an honest, meritorious opinion worth considering. No, we didn’t get that at all. MoJo just picked the lowest hanging fruit for easy display, misinterpretation, and mockery.
The response is pure strawman bollocks. Rand Paul didn’t say anything remotely like “he’s just like everybody else”, or “it doesn’t really matter who gets the money”. It does indeed matter who gets the money. The money should go wherever the people who earned it want it to go. Nor did Rand Paul say “People ONLY work for, and sell stuff to, rich people.” He said that everybody does it, not that everybody does it EXCLUSIVELY.
Yes, this is our counter-argument. You got a problem with that?
I was gullible enough to click on the link in the above Mother Jones piece on Rand Paul under the words “the Randian Paradise”, and this is where I ended up. The implication here is that Rand Paul must be an anarchist who wants to abolish publicly funded police. In the absence of an actual statement from Rand Paul in which he states that he actually wants to abolish public police, I suppose any old anti-libertarian screed will do.
What the article lacks in relevance to Rand Paul, it makes up for in demonstrating why Mother Jones’s twitter posts are so lousy. They are both prime examples of the same lousy style of argument: reductio ad ridiculum (appeal to ridicule), or “The Horse Laugh”. This is where you don’t show a man the dignity of even a response ad hominem. All you do is repeat what he says and laugh.
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