The Undue Simplification of Political Discourse

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Maybe you don’t want to get as complex as that title, but you could do with being a teensy bit more complex than this:

“I hear all this, you know, ‘Well, this is class warfare, this is whatever. No. There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own — nobody.

“You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police-forces and fire-forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory — and hire someone to protect against this — because of the work the rest of us did.

“Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea. God bless — keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is, you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”

Who’s saying otherwise?[1] Rush Limbaugh isn’t even saying otherwise, he’s just ranting at perceived tonal issues and liberals and Marxists. Most minarchists still think you need a state for providing security and some subset of those think you need one for public infrastructure. This isn’t really news. This isn’t something that anyone but the odd anarchist needs convincing about. Of course you set aside a certain amount of your earnings for public goods. The problem isn’t to convince people that they need some sort of a state. The problem is to convince people that this state should do all the things it does today, and that they have to pay for it.

PS: Of course Elizabeth Warren isn’t the only one “unduly simplifying” the debate. She isn’t even on the list of prime offenders. But this is the sort of simplification that even otherwise intelligent people feel the need to produce as a manifesto, hence the post.

[1]Aside from objecting to “the rest of us”-what, factory owners don’t pay taxes- and “paying it forward” framing vs “paying back”, at least.


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