Monday, February 13, 2012

Obama, Socialism, Snopes, and a lie-within-a-lie

Several conservative friends have recently posted a story on Facebook about an economics professor who decides to try an experiment with a class and tells them that since they're friends of Obama's socialist plans, he'll use socialism in class: all the students will receive the exact same grade. Of course all the students stop trying and all of them fail the class (even though, in at least one rendition of this story, the professor specifically told them that no one would fail).

This story is so problematic that it's hard to know where to start, but here goes:

1. The story's false. (Thanks, Snopes). In fact, it pre-dates Obama's presidency. The point can still be valid even if the story is false, but it certainly doesn't help the cause when the story is told as if it is true when it isn't.

2. President Obama's "socialism" is nothing like what the professor tried in his class. Not everyone will be equal. It's not even as extreme as we see in 4th Nephi, where, in one of the most righteous societies to ever exist, there were no rich and no poor. Obama wants to increase the middle class--which makes total sense when one realizes that the disparity between the rich and the rest of us is greater than it's been since the Great Depression. Obama seems to want something like Germany and Scandinavia have--basically no poverty, a huge middle class, and some moderately wealthy people. I'm quite familiar with what that means in Germany--plenty of opportunity, a real safety net, and plenty of chances to strike it rich. You might not get that sixteenth mansion, but let's face it--most of the extremely wealthy in the U.S. didn't strike it rich, they were born that way. And it's absolutely wrong when the ultra-rich "make" (or, more likely, watch their investments increase) more in a day than ordinary working families earn all year.

I'm fine with smart, hardworking people making more money than other people. But plenty of hardworking people aren't making enough to get by, or are barely surviving. Most of the lower class and most of the lower-middle class (a group that continues to grow in size) is composed of people with good work ethics. They might not have the same opportunities as the rich have had, but they work hard, and they don't deserve to live in poverty.

The current message from many Republicans seems to be that the current wage gap we have right now--where the rich are ridiculously rich, and the middle class is struggling in the toughest economy since the Great Depression--is perfectly fine. It's not fine. It's disgusting. And it's sad that otherwise intelligent friends have been taken in by this story, this lie-within-a-lie.


JorgenMan said...

Tim, I want you to know that I wrote a big huge rant, but realized it was a bit intense and drawn out, so I've deleted it and limited my comments to one topic. ;)

I think the government could help a lot of people in poverty by getting rid of so many of the unnecessary professional licensing requirements that exist - license requirements for driving taxis, real estate agency, plumbing, truck driving, and hairdressing, to name a few. All the licensing does is serve as a barrier to entry to artificially increase the earnings of license-holders, and it's the poor who end up unable to afford the licenses.

Tim said...

Sure, I don't disagree with that, at least when dealing with those kind of businesses.

Anonymous said...

Watch "Holmes on Homes" or any other show involving undoing the damage done by an unlicensed contractor and tell me again how great it would be for anyone with a home repair encyclopedia to be able to open a business.

Licensing requirements don't exist because they're fun. They exist because enough damage is done by unlicensed people that legislatures decide to impose accountability. People's lives get ruined by these people, and if there is no licensing entity, those people have nowhere to turn.