Saturday, August 08, 2009

Deconstructing a liberal's argument

I get comments to this blog but I delete most of them from the more extreme left. Not all liberals argue this way and I respect the ones who don't. However the worst are not honest comments and are unworthy of seeing the light of day, so I immediately delete them. To wit, let us deconstruct a long one I keep receiving. (When I delete, they send the same comment day after day, like they have nothing else to do, lol)

This commenter opened with the following in response to health care entries on this blog:
“You must be very lucky to have full coverage insurance. Most of the rest of us aren't so fortunate.”
This is a straw man argument; 'an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent's position.' The commenter has no idea what level of health insurance I have, if any. However she or he presented this fallacy in the first sentence and built an opposing argument from it for the rest of the lengthy reply. Unfortunately it is entirely false. However, it is the most popular and well used of the fallacious arguments the liberal person of this ilk will use. Another straw man argument ensues in the next sentence, as if to cement it:
“My aunt had good insurance and lived healthy; then she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Three months later, the insurance company canceled her policy! This was when Bush was President and Republicans were in control.”
Assuming the commenter actually has an aunt who was sick with cancer, President Bush had nothing to do with her insurance company’s position, any more than any President Clinton or previous Presidents. The Government was not involved in private insurance at that point except for Medicare and that was in place long before Bush. It is only Obama who has his fingers in it.
“They didn't do anything!”
A liberal generally believes that government exists to intervene in the citizen's welfare from cradle to grave, hence this commenter's plaintive wail, 'they didn't do anything!' whoever "they" are. "They" are not specified. A conservative generally believes in personal responsibility. Where I live, neighbors, families, and churches help people in need. I believe the government does not exist to hold my hand from cradle to grave.
"Obama is the first politician at ANY level in a looooong time to do something we have almost never seen in Washington - follow through and do exactly what he said he would do!"
I think the President with the most promises kept goes to Reagan. Obama has not followed through with even one. As a matter of fact he has done the opposite on all of them. He said he would end the war but he expanded the front in Afghanistan. He said he would negotiate health care reform in public sessions televised on C-SPAN but instead he wants it pushed through without the House or Senate even reading the bill. He decried earmarks, then signed 9,000 of them.

One of the Democrats who voted for Obama wonders which promise she should believe: the 2003 promise when Obama said he wanted a single payer system? Or the 2009 promise that he does not want a single payer system? Senator Cornyn asked Obama that very question this week, and Cornyn is an Obama supporter! In actuality, Obama is the first president we have had in a looooooong time to be such a blatant liar.
“Why do they keep saying we need to "wait" and get it right? Republicans had 8 years...not only did they not get it right, they didn't even TRY to help my aunt or anyone else!”
This is the Appeal to Pity, or the Galileo Argument. Government does not exist to help Auntie recover from cancer. And ‘waiting’ to actually read the bill is just common sense. Or used to be.
“Just like our military protects ALL American citizens, we need FULL and COMPLETE health coverage for ALL Americans.”
This is known as Argument by Generalization, it is also Non Sequitur, 'something that does not follow'. I could just as easily say ‘Just like our military protects ALL American citizens, we need FULL and COMPLETE DVD libraries for ALL Americans.” It is a false premise.
“Bin Laden isn't the number one terrorist, diseases and insurance companies are the number one terrorists. Disease and insurance companies are responsible for more deaths in one month than for all American deaths due to terrorism EVER.”
I must have missed the bulletin where heart disease was re-classified as terrorism. To say “health insurance companies are responsible for more deaths in one month than terrorism ever” is just stupidity. Heaven forbid a person arguing in this manner should ever provide a fact, a link, or a reference. For example, there are 13,651 deaths every week in the US due to heart disease, or 54,604 per month. Are health insurance companies "responsible" for these plus all the other patients who die from kidney failure, car accidents, leukemia etc? No.
“Then again, many people died today thanks to our broken health care (non)system and insurance companies canceling them."
Fact? Reference? Link? Nope. Health insurance is called an “employment benefit,” meaning, it is a gift you receive, not a demand automatically met.
“How do you and others trying to defeat reform feel towards those tragic deaths that would have been prevented if only we had universal health coverage for all?”
In the world of fallacious arguments, this is called the “Appeal To Pity (Appeal to Sympathy, The Galileo Argument). Do what we say ... or children will DIEEEEE! It is not a solid argument and is often used when no facts are available. Appealing to emotion is done absent facts, making it an old standby of the list of fallacious arguments. The opposite of her argument would be; “once we have universal health care no one will die.” Which is not true of course. Government cannot save us from dying, nor can it save us from death due to our own lifestyle choices. A liberal of this ilk generally looks for someone else to blame rather than take personal responsibility. Think of the McDonald's coffee drinker who spilled hot coffee on herself and won her suit.
“Why is it OK for the govt. to provide education (and give you a job) but it isn't OK for the govt. to provide health care?”
This kind of fallacious argument is known as Changing The Subject (Digression, Red Herring, Misdirection, False Emphasis.) We are not debating education. We are not debating about my work. Secondly, the government does already provides health care: Medicare.

There was more but you get the idea of how these people argue. Ad Hominem, Galileo Argument, Straw Man, Appeal to Pity, etc. none of it is honest. That is why I DELETE these kinds of comments. They are not worthy of the light of day. Happy debating!


Christie said...

Some liberals may think that the government should intervene from "cradle to grave" but I'm not one of them. Folks should be free to do as they wish, so long as their desires and actions don't cause harm to others. (And yes, I recognize that "harm" and "others" are words we could debate the definitions of.)

I am okay with government establishing certain regulations - OSHA is a good example. It's important we have rules to keep workers safe when they are on the job. (Enforcement is another issue, eh?)

I'm not sure how I feel about mandating insurance, and this reluctance to support such a thing comes from my general displeasure at having to deal with insurance companies. On the other hand, I can't come up with a good reason not to cover everyone or at least have a reasonable option for everyone to buy into. Companies are allowed to pay for their health insurance packages using pre-tax dollars, why aren't ordinary citizens? Going to the ER for medical treatment is not the optimal way to operate because the ER is supposed to be set up for emergencies.

Why do we link health insurance to your employment so that if you lose your job, you are left with the option to buy insurance at a premium price at a time when you've suffered a loss in income. (I can't link to it but a family member recently lost her job and to extend coverage through COBRA for her and her daughter, it would have cost the family an additional $700 a month. Ouch.)

I have "full coverage" but I have to put that in quotes because we never actually know what procedures, office visits, and the like our insurance company will cover until we get the final bill.

We're attached to a certain way of doing things but I don't believe leaving 47 million uninsured or under-insured folks is the best we can do.

Christie said...

I meant to link to this article in the Times that I thought was interesting. It's by an economics professor at Princeton and tries to answer the question of whether employer-based income is worth saving. Here's the link:

Sir Charlz Fantom said...

I came to your blog by searching google for "Ad hominem liberal argument"

I went to lunch with some coworkers today, guys who don't lean right, someone brought up healthcare, and I was pounced on before I could even finish my "opening statements." I was laughed at, my view, which I had barely even started to state, was trashed as rediculous.
I got flustered, regrouped, knew we couldn't argue facts, so I turned the discussion towards how liberals argue. I indentified how my friends were arguing, attacking my credibility and thus diverting from the topic. They didn't even realize they did it, and continued to do it as we discussed. Other peple in the discussion began to see it after I pointed it out, and my friends actually felt bad.
Your post was great, it really spells out what goes on. Thanks, much appreciated.