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.