Friday, February 27, 2009

Assumptions of Class Warfare

Conservative blogger Donald Douglas has now posted a "rebuttal" to my reply on why conservatives are wrong to attack Obama for class warfare.  And needless to say, it's so underwhelming that I had to yet again put "rebuttal" in quotes, as he didn't actually address anything I wrote.

As Donald explained in a comment to me, he felt no need to explain why Obama's tax plan is class warfare because it's already assumed to be the case.  But of course, that's not how arguments work.  If I explain why Position A is wrong and someone wants to refute my argument, they don't just get to say "Position A is correct because I assume that Position A is correct."  That's just lame and a complete embarrassment to online debates.

Not that we can't have assumptions in arguments, but this is the KEY assumption.  This is the primary assumption that I was attacking in my original post.  Yet Donald has now used it twice as the basis for his entire argument. It's like a guy who joins a gunfight by running unarmed into the middle of the street wearing a target.  Donald already lost before he started and was so unprepared for the fight that he didn't even realize he got shot.  That's what happens when you only practice against strawmen.

Outsourced Arguments

This time, he didn't even try making an argument.  He merely asserted that my arguments were "pure Democratic baloney" and then outsourced his argument to two other people who also didn't address my point.  Essentially, this consisted of conservatives who took two of Obama's statements and reprocessed them into something he hadn't said, based entirely on strawmen that conservatives invented years ago.  

It was all about finding "trick wording and dishonest blame-shifting" that would expose Obama's true meaning.  Trick wording?  What kind of warfare is that?  The whole point of "class warfare" is that someone is pitting one class against the other.  Now it takes a Fox News Decoder Ring to figure out how Obama is rousing the masses against the rich?  That hardly sounds like anti-wealth populism to me.

Here are those two Obama statements:
“A surplus became an excuse to transfer wealth to the wealthy instead of an opportunity to invest in our future.”

"We are not going to get relief by turning back to the very same policies that for the last eight years doubled the national debt and threw our economy into a tailspin."
And while I suppose I can see how these could be interpreted as remarks against the upper-class, they sound much more like attacks on Republicans and their policies.  Obama's not saying that the rich were evil for receiving tax cuts.  He's saying that it was unwise for us to have given them tax cuts.  And while I completely agree with that, that's pretty weak tea as far as class warfare goes.

Even worse, neither of these people even mentioned class warfare.  The first suggested that Obama's phrasing indicates that he thinks wealth belongs to the government, so even his interpretation of Obama isn't a direct link to class warfare.  And the second person said exactly what I was saying; that Obama was blaming Republicans.   I quote: "Translation: Blame Republicans, and tax cuts."  Why Donald used her quote remains a mystery.

Back to the Beginning

And so we're right back where we started: Donald Douglas agrees that it's ok for the upper-class to pay more than the lower classes, but disagrees with the specific rate increase that Obama has requested.  And because of this 3% disagreement, he assumes that Obama is making "warfare" against the rich.  Again, this makes no sense.  We all agree that the rich should pay more taxes than the poor because they can afford to pay more.  Where's the warfare?

Now, if Donald wants to get around to explaining the assumption that I have been refuting from the start, this is the time to do so.  Heck, even a basic definition of what he means by "class warfare" would be a start.  And his answer would have to include why he thinks Obama's tax plan is classist, when he himself agrees that rich people should pay more than poor people.  But I'm quite sure he's incapable of doing so or he would have done it by now.  He has to "assume" that his point is correct because he can't actually explain his position otherwise.  

But this isn't just the failing of Donald Douglas.  The entire conservative movement is bereft of any clues and the best they can do is shout cliched mantras about "class warfare" and "socialism," and pray that someone will listen.  But for as much as they need to believe that Obama hates the upper-class, the best they can do is sift through his sentences and make inferences based upon their need to find something there.  But rescinding Bush's tax cuts are far from evidence they can use.

Now we just need to figure out why conservatives believe that the term "class warfare" is a magical weapon that scores points for them.  Obama made this tax plan a pillar in his campaign and used it to trounce his Republican opponent.  So why would anyone be scared of it now?  Mysteries never cease.


Critical Thinker said...

Interesting post.

You are absolutely right this isn't class warfare. This is an attempt at "classless warfare." The wealthy are simply the first victims of collectivism.

If you have taken the time to explore the overall Obama budget projection, rather than concentrating on one small portion, such as health care. You will find that the amount of taxation levied is 50-55% higher in 2019, than present. I supposed you think the wealthy are going to pick up this tab also?

Also, there is a $7 trillion increase in additional debt created over 10 years. Causing our national debt to rise to almost $18 trillion.

GDP, by the Obama projection, in 2019 will be at $22.9 trillion. The debt incurred will represent about 75% of the gross domestic product of the United States. So I ask you, what do you do when your debt outpaces your GDP, sell more to foreign interests?

Good luck with your arguments you guys are going to need it.


No doubt you have read the thousands of pages and line items in the 2009 budget Critical Guy. You would never think of just snatching a few lines from a right wing blog and trying to convince yourself and the rest of us that investing in job and economy building infrastructure projects are somehow bad things.

The wealthiest had a good ride on the Bush merry go round. The poor and middle class got to stand behind the gate watching. I don't feel sorry for those that benefit the most from the prosperity of America having to pay more than those that benefit less.

Anonymous said...

calculus explains the warfare. if the rate of change of the top bracket rate is positive bingo, that's irrefutable proof that war is going on.

but if that rate is going down, that's not war at all.

Doctor Biobrain said...

Critical Thinker - Would you mind posting a link to whatever source told you these things? As Hussein the Deranged suggests, I suspect you haven't read the thing either and are mindlessly regurgitating someone else's analysis.

But even still, I'd have no problem having a debate over this and would really want to know if what you're saying is correct. But without any sort of citations, quotes, or anything else to work with, your comment is nothing but a pointless assertion which sounds entirely absurd. I strongly suspect that you should be angry at the person who fed you that BS. But you people rarely are. Again, if you want to have a fact-based discussion, you need to present facts, and not assertions. I'd be happy to have that discussion, but quite bored if all you can do is repeat other people's claims.

Doctor Biobrain said...

Anonymous - The calculus you speak of would prove nothing. Because we already don't have an equal tax system and nobody is seriously suggesting that we do. Everyone thinks the rich should pay more than the poor. And so if raising the tax rate for the rich automatically constitutes class warfare, then we've been in a constant state of warfare for a long time. Because that's just a continuation of existing policy.

As I was saying, I don't think it's "warfare" unless one group is actively demonizing another. Like how Republicans demonize poor people and make them sound undeserving of basic happiness and freedoms. And while there are certain liberals who demonize the rich, Obama is certainly not doing so.


It's common to stretch the numbers out over years to make a problem seem much bigger. Or in most cases, to create a problem out of thin air. Republicans are experts at creating demons where there are none. The Right is all agog about 50 or 60 trillion in government liabilities. Mind boggling but if it's taken in the context of that is what they are over the next 60 to 100 years it is managable with responsible tax and spending policies. WE depend on government to keep us safe and prosperous. When the Right Wing comes up with another entity that will do that for free, then I will come over to their side. All they want now is to keep the wealthiest among us the safest and most prosperous.