Arguing With Idiots; Debunking Conservatives On Facebook

I’m not entirely sure if what follows was a chain email, Facebook status or a blog post — but it doesn’t really matter. The only way to deal with your idiot brother-in-law or conservative co-worker is head-on. I’m all for keeping the peace, but enough with the false equivalence between xenophobic hyperbole and facts.

I may not know the original author, but I know this is a fairly typical example of what’s wrong with conservative thinking today. Let’s play another round of Point/Counterpoint with RWNJs.

Here are six Conundrums of socialism in the United States of America:

1. America is capitalist and greedy – yet half of the population is subsidized.

WRONG: Every person living in this country is subsidized to one degree or another. Most of us take many of the social compacts we’ve made with one another for granted. If you’re reading this (and not living in a shack in Appalachia), you should feel lucky. If the world’s population were reduced to a village of 100 people — 7 of us would have a college education. And it most certainly would not be the guy that wrote this claptrap.

I think it’s a safe bet that the author is under the mistaken impression that 5 out of 10 people living in this country are getting a “hand-out,” or “something they didn’t earn.” For those uninformed misanthropes who perpetuate this kind of hogwash, the ‘moochers’ are anyone who has a home or college loan through a government program — or the millions of Americans who now have health insurance, thanks to government subsidies.

What conservatives will never admit, is that investing in education is good for all of us; home ownership improves communities, and offering more people health insurance keeps them healthy (and/or out of an Emergency Room seeking medical care more efficiently treated in a clinic) is a win-win for the nation.

2. Half of the population is subsidized – yet they think they are victims.

Wait, what? I don’t have the first clue who wrote this gibberish, but I can make a few assumptions right off the top of my head that I guarantee are correct: the author is white, male and didn’t miss a meal today. He’s an acolyte (if not an active supporter) of politicians like Donald Trump, letting his xenophobic fears drive his need to make these stereotypical and offensive statements.

Only someone who has never experienced racism, discrimination or misogyny firsthand could come to the conclusion that demanding equal treatment is equivalent to being a “victim.” Yes, I’m reading a bit between the lines, but it’s hard not to when these blanket statements smear as many “others” as possible.

“Others” can refer to any race, class, sex or creed — as long as they’re different from “us.” When backed into a corner, however, the definition of “us” can and WILL change to include members of any race, class, sex or creed (as long as they adhere to aspects of “our” dogma). You know this one; ‘I’m not racist/bigoted/anti-Semetic because I have a black/Jewish/gay friend’ argument. I’d like to find a black/gay/Jewish friend — but evidently, they’re in the minority.

3. They think they are victims – yet their representatives run the government.

Are you sure about that, champ? There’s another assault on average Joes across the country that’s in the news — and it’s coming from those very same “representatives.” Republicans have been working overtime to restrict voting rights for those they see as “others.” They even got a helping hand from a conservative majority in the Supreme Court, when they overturned a key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Who is running what?

4. Their representatives run the government – yet the poor keep getting poorer.

Welcome to Logical Fallacies 101: FALSE CAUSE. You’ve assumed that people reading this will confuse correlation with causation, and for many of your conservative pals, that may be true. “Others” will rightly note that item No. 4 on your list of “six conundrums of socialism” doesn’t pass the smell test.

Besides, half of the 535 members of Congress are millionaires — and significantly more likely to be male, white, and over the age of 65. How is that “representative” of the country? Over half the people in the United States are women — compared to 18% of lawmakers; 4 out of 10 members of Congress are lawyers, too.

5. The poor keep getting poorer – yet they have things that people in other countries only dream about.

… like refrigerators and indoor plumbing. Yes, we’ve heard conservative politicians drone on and on about how “well off” those living below the poverty line in America actually have it, when stacked up against folks living in Zimbabwe (where the median income is less than $600/yr).

6. They have things that people in other countries only dream about – yet they want America to be more like those other countries.

I’m pretty sure people in Denmark have air conditioning — AND they give 18 weeks paid maternity leave to moms (4 before/14 after childbirth). I doubt anyone is advocating we scrap the U.S. Dollar and start trading in Euros, but it’s long past time we make some major investments into infrastructure and transportation.

Think about it! And that, my friends, pretty much sums up the USA in the 21st Century. Makes you wonder who is doing the math.

Not really — you guys are always fudging the numbers to try and scare the bejesus out of voters — and many of us would appreciate it if you’d keep your Chicken Little theories out of the public square.

Let’s talk about the “math.” The 49.2 percent figure touted by Republicans (I’ve seen it in countless editorials), belies the numbers directly from the U.S. Census Bureau: “52.2 million (or 21.3 percent) people in the U.S. participated in major means-tested government assistance programs.”

Back in 2009, that number was 18.6 percent — but don’t ask a conservative to admit that when the bottom fell out of our economy, more people were forced to rely on temporary assistance. According to them, our country’s problems started about the same time that foreigner (who doesn’t have a birth certificate) started promising “free stuff” to all “those people” to get them to vote for him. Things will start to turn around once we take the country back from “them.”

The Census Bureau report also showed that as the recession eased, “Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income and SNAP increased, while the rate decreased for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families/General Assistance.” So, by the numbers, that’s telling us that we have more jobs like those found at Walmart (where they teach incoming employees how to apply for government assistance to supplement their income), and fewer people out-of-work completely.

We can also directly tie stagnant wages in this current economy with a decrease in union membership — and the Republican’s assault on working people through right-to-work laws and legislature measures to restrict collective bargaining. The two lines (decreasing union participation and falling buying power) — mirror each other. Incomes have flatlined, and costs just keep going up.

But let’s go ahead and gaze into your crystal ball, Mr. Know-it-All. This should be good for a laugh.

These three, short sentences tell you a lot about the direction of our current government and cultural environment:

1. We are advised to NOT judge ALL Muslims by the actions of a few lunatics, but we are encouraged to judge ALL gun owners by the actions of a few lunatics.

Funny how that works.

No, it’s really not funny at all — both are serious issues and conflating them in this manner does a disservice to both. If you’re looking for some type of interrelationship, you might consider how to reach the disaffected young men who gravitate towards violence as an outlet for their feelings of helplessness.

Nobody is judging “ALL” gun owners or treating them like pariahs in their own communities because of how they look or dress (unless they insist on slinging an AR-15 over their shoulder for a quick trip to the local Target store). Simplistic thinking like this leads to all manner of hate crimes and discrimination against Muslims in America.

The number of acts of anti-government, anti-liberal, or Christian and fascist extremism surpasses Islamic attacks in this country by a wide margin. And ALL of those acts of violence combined pale in comparison to the blood-soaked legacy of the NRA’s work to not only make it easier to own a gun — but also make it far less likely that using a gun will have any legal repercussions (especially for the manufacturers).

When one human being today can inflict as much carnage in an afternoon as the entire 8th Massachusetts Regiment of the Continental Army — talking about sensible gun regulations isn’t unreasonable (and doesn’t mean anyone is coming for your goddamned guns you paranoid ammosexuals).

And here’s another one worth considering…

I highly doubt that …

2. Seems we constantly hear about how Social Security is going to run out of money. But we never hear about welfare or food stamps running out of money! What’s interesting is the first group “worked for” their money, but the second didn’t.

Think about it…

Conservatives constantly hear (and believe) a LOT of things that just aren’t true; start checking your sources. Social Security is NOT going broke — it’s self-sustaining and doesn’t add a dime to the deficit. What’s “interesting” is that you don’t seem to understand how it works. Yes, we should lift the cap, but rich people are already trying to get their greedy mitts on those funds through privatization schemes — so don’t hold your breath.

Hunger in America — children

What’s “interesting” is the assumption of an individual’s ability to “work for” their meal. How many of the hungry are children, elderly, or disabled? How many of them are veterans? In 2013, Republicans forced through cuts to the SNAP program which affected 900,000 veterans and 5,000 active duty troops. Which dovetails nicely into your last point.

Last but not least:

3. Why are we cutting benefits for our veterans, no pay raises for our military and cutting our army to a level lower than before WWII, but we are not stopping the payments or benefits to illegal aliens.

Am I the only one missing something?

Well, you’re missing quite a bit — but not everyone is gifted with common sense. If you’d been “listening to the generals,” which Republicans seem to think is a good idea, you’d know that the military is in transition. “Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military’s changed.” Thanks, Obama.

The 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), describes the “tough choices we are making in a period of fiscal austerity.” One of their chief concerns, especially with an all-volunteer force, is how to “reform military compensation in a responsible way that protects the ability to modernize the force over the long term.” The new military seeks to be smaller, faster, while still “able to project power over great distances.”

We spend in the neighborhood of $700 billion on “defense,” (somewhere between 16-20% of total expenditures, depending on how many “supplemental war funding bills” get tacked on after the fact). We spend about one-tenth that amount feeding the hungry. And Republicans keep finding new and inventive ways to shame hungry people for being poor, too, rather than address a lack of economic opportunity in our cities.

As to the other nonsense, you’re just flat wrong. First, you need to admit to yourself that undocumented workers are productive members of our society — even if they are living on the margins, or taken advantage of by a system which ignores all of America’s illegal employers.

Undocumented workers pay taxes all day, every day. They’re paying sales taxes, just like you. They’re paying property taxes (whether they rent or own), just like you. And the Social Security Administration estimates that undocumented labor (plus their employer’s contributions) account for $13 billion annually in payroll taxes — and they’ll never see a nickel in benefits.

Contrary to the disinformation you’ve posted, undocumented immigrants DO send their kids to public schools (and we welcome them), and they DO seek (and are granted) emergency medical care. They are NOT, however, collecting TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) or SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits from the federal government.

The view is actually pretty lousy from up here on Bullshit Mountain. It takes real effort to assume the worst of your fellow man — all the time. I only assume the worst of Republicans (it saves me lots of time). You can be wrong all day long — that’s your prerogative. This is America; you’re free to believe a whole lot of stuff and nonsense (like thinking supply-side economic theory might actually work someday).

When you wander out into the public square, however, bellowing how those “others” are the problem, without first checking in your own backyard? Well, that makes you part of the problem — not the solution. Consider yourself fortunate I provided this first lesson for free. Whoops — guess that makes me a socialist.

You’re welcome.

Here’s a non-partisan way to do something positive — visit No Kid Hungry and learn how you can help.

About Tom Joad 122 Articles
Online activist, essayist, and political junkie on Facebook and progressive political blogs. Tell the truth — do it often. Follow me on the Twitter machine @oltomjoad.

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