Jun 30, 2012

Tactics and Pushing

ObamaCare supporters delight in using the rhetorical tactic of focusing on the supposed good outcomes when responding to critics.

“I don't understand why people get so bent out of shape when a law is passed that actually benefits the citizens of this country…”

There’s a lot going on there. The statement begins with confusion, suggesting that the speaker is encountering something that goes against either the normal assumptions, which implies that the opposing view is not a natural way of looking at things. Note also that it focuses on the (supposed) positive outcomes only, implying that there is nothing negative about it that might justify someone’s bent shape on the matter.

Statements like these make me groan in frustration. The persuasion tactic is glaringly obvious and it almost comes across as deliberate flamebait. It also forces the other side into the defensive as well as into a very critical mode. Consider the automatic response:

“Yes, it probably benefits people, but at what cost? How are we supposed to pay for it? With Monopoly money? You can’t squeeze blood from a rock. We all want to have nice cars, too, but you can’t just pass a law that says ‘everyone gets a Toyota’ without also saying how exactly you’re going to afford to pay Toyota for all those cars. Or is Toyota just supposed to do it anyway, fuck ‘em, they’re evil corporate bastards anyway just sitting on cash, they can afford to help us little guys out once in a while!”

I agree, it would be nice if we could just wish ourselves pass a law to give us all a home, a car, a dog, 2.5 children, and a steady, rewarding job. But I’m afraid the world doesn’t work that way. Those things only come with work. Human effort. We must create wealth.

Even if it were okay to steal money from everyone else to pay for all of these wonderful “human rights”, that still doesn’t change the fact that money doesn’t just grow on trees. It has value only because it represents some previously done effort. It allows us to be asynchronous with our bartering. If I don’t happen to be a tailor and do not have a hat for you since you’ve been wanting, but I still want those peaches you harvested, I’ll give you money instead, which you can then use to get a hat from someone else. It frees us from the impracticality and improbability.

But don’t forget that hardworking Americans (to use the political vernacular) are making those Toyotas. They still expect to be paid. You were going to pay them for all of those cars they are building to give to everyone, right? Oh, Toyota can afford to pay them just fine? Okay. What if they run out of money? Not only will that leave some workers unpaid, but it also means no more Toyotas. Bankruptcy is a bitch.

Toyota makes a great car, which means they are desirable to have for a lot of people. But they don’t make cars just because. They make them to sell, to profit, so that the many people who work for Toyota can be paid and thus afford the things that they want/need, like a house and kids and all that, too. Just like you! It’s not greed so much as a way for us all to mutually benefit. They get to live comfortable lives and we get to have a great car.

Forcing them to make them for free or less than they cost to build would only hamper Toyota’s ability to continue to design and manufacture great cars for the rest of us. At worst, it would destroy the company. And then there wouldn’t be any more for anybody. I call this attitude of socialist force “biting the hand that feeds.” We wouldn’t have companies like Toyota making great products if not for their desire to make ends meet.

How much can we demand of everyone else before the rubber band breaks? Should we even be pushing them at all, testing their limits in the first place?

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