Guest post from my buddy John LaRosa. Good read as always. via False Premise Number One: “Something vs. Nothing” | JSL Consulting.
I’m tired. I’m really, really tired.
Am I getting old? Yes. But while I certainly prefer aging to its alternative, my sprint toward transitional assisted living and perpetual underground residency is not what this post is about. No, I’m just tired of the bullshit…and I say that in a true spirit of bipartisanship.
What bullshit, you ask? Well, if you have to ask, you’re probably a devoted fan of Mob Wives because you clearly don’t pay much attention to politics. To each his or her own, I suppose, (and for the record, I think ”Big Ang” is hysterical). But, personally, I’m tired of the nonsense. I’m tired of all the spin. I’m tired of the straw man arguments. I’m tired of the lies. And most of all, I’m really tired of the false premises. Although there are dozens in circulation, let’s look at just one.
“Something vs. Nothing”
Leaving their motivations aside for a moment, it seems that when our ”leaders” feel the need to ram a bill through Congress, one of their key talking points is invariably: “This is urgent…we have to do something before it’s too late. Doing nothing is simply not an option!” Sounds nice. Sounds like they’re actually working. Sounds like they “care”. But one phrase, or a series of phrases, shouldn’t ever justify something like, say, Obamacare or Dodd-Frank, two of the most ill-conceived legislative monstrosities in the history of the planet. The Democrats are very good at playing the “something vs. nothing” game, and the Republicans are often too squishy to tell the truth; namely, that doing something STUPID is never better than doing nothing.
Before Obama and his current gaggle of socialist friends arrived on the scene, Bill Clinton was the master of creating and selling false options like “something vs. nothing”. I once used a little (admittedly non-PC, but somewhat effective) hyperbole to describe his approach. (Do your best Bubba imitation while reading it aloud.) “Either you support my proposal or you shove a lit stick of dynamite up your butt. It’s your call, but you have to decide right now!” With all due respect to some of our Jihadi friends, most sane people would prefer even a bad bill to the second option; but an intelligent person might simply choose to reject the premise and propose a more reasonable “solution”, presumably one that doesn’t involve explosives.
To be “fair”, (I’ll get to that one at another time), many Republicans are not proud or principled enough to avoid using “something vs. nothing” or other ”straw man” tactics. After all, “children are being left behind”, so we have to do “something” about that, right? Ooh, and yes, prescriptions are expensive for seniors, so we have to do “something” about that too, right? Fast forward to the current immigration debate. Karl Rove and his cronies say the GOP needs to do something to win Hispanic support, but their focus groups didn’t think “seal the borders, deport illegals who commit crimes and start enforcing current immigration law” was going to cut it. Consequently, I fear that the new Republican ”something” will take the form of an all-out pandering campaign which is likely to produce a “bipartisan” bill that history will describe as unworkable, unenforceable, exorbitantly expensive, completely counterproductive and totally absurd. Nice job, Karl…the undocumented Democrats thank you and your OFA check is in the mail.
Sadly, the “something vs. nothing” approach often works because the average voter has the attention span of a fruit fly, the typical politician only cares about election-winning and the main stream media long ago abandoned the whole notion of objective journalism. If we stay gullible, apathetic, uninformed and/or misinformed, we as a nation probably deserve precisely what we get out of our public officials. It’s time to wake up, as they say, “before it’s too late”. We need to get informed, break out those bullshit meters and reject false premises whenever they surface. The sources of these false premises are irrelevant, by the way. Politics is downstream from culture. Faulty logic is often spewed not only by politicians but also by academics, reporters, pundits, celebrities, union bosses, Twitter trolls…and even your friends and family. Identify the premises of their arguments. Reject those premises if they don’t make sense. Offer alternative logical frameworks and solutions. It’s not hard once you condition yourself to listen first and talk (or tweet) later.
To summarize: “Something vs. Nothing” is a scam…don’t fall for it. You will never win an argument if you let your opponent frame the debate. Flawed policy always flows from false premises. Keep your bullshit meter with you at all times and know what you’re talking about. Thus endeth the lesson. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to take a nap. I’m really, really tired.