When buying a product or service, the first question out of a man’s mouth is likely to be “how much is it?” As individuals, that question is axiomatic. So why is it that when we discuss grand political programs, the cost is so rarely discussed? And even when it is, the price is obfuscated behind layers of legalese and technicalities.
Sometime ago, I remember discussing Planned Parenthood with a liberal, and when I pointed out that my primary issue with abortion was the fact that I was paying for it with tax money, he replied that Planned Parenthood doesn’t get any money to perform abortions. This was a technicality. Planned Parenthood gets taxpayer money for all sorts of things, but comparatively little specifically earmarked for abortions.
Yet, if the government is paying for electricity, medical equipment, rent, whatever… for Planned Parenthood, but not specifically for abortions, how do we account that? It’s a sleight of hand designed to obfuscate the real price. I can make nearly any business profitable if you pay my bills. So why doesn’t that funding count in the price?
I tried to explain this to my liberal friend, and evidently failed, as he would not count any money not paid directly from the federal government (state subsidies were conveniently ignored) for a specific abortion. Thus in his mind, the fiction that government doesn’t pay for abortions remained firm and unassailable. But if the government paid me money to buy a car, and paid me money to put gas in it, are they subsidizing my travel, even if they don’t earmark it for a specific destination?
But it isn’t Planned Parenthood that is the real subject of this post. You see, cost is ignored for pretty much everything in the liberal world. There is no limit to the amount of spending that is seen as appropriate.
When a charity asks me to donate money, the question is often “how much?” And not just how much money they want from me, though that is important as well, but how much money is actually spent on the mission of the charity, versus administrative overhead.
Yet with government spending, the question of how much is only ever answered with more. How much taxpayer funding do you need for welfare? More. How much is needed for paying school teachers? More. How much is needed for social services? More. How much taxpayer money do you need, period? More.
However much the government is taking today, it always wants more. And furthermore, the political Left is dedicated to guilt shaming you, via Weaponized Empathy, if you should disagree with them. How many Muslim refugees should be accepted by various Western countries around the world? More. Never is it a specific number, fixed and immutable, after which we might account our duty to human rights and dignity properly satisfied. Always it is more.
Slavery reparations work in a similar manner. Ta-Nehisi Coates argued for reparations some time ago in The Atlantic. And again, no cost figure is given, only vague references to a lot, and interest accrued over the years (as if this were a debt, from one individual to another). What Coates wants, and what many Black Lives Matter folks want, is a blank check to draw upon forever. Or, put more simply, they want more. Coates compares slavery reparations to German reparations to the Jews, but without the realization that many victims of Nazi depredations, and their immediate relatives, were still alive. So were many perpetrators. No slaves or slave owners live today.
Even so, Germany should not be expected to pay reparations forever, in some indeterminate amount. Rather, an amount was settled upon, paid, and the thing was done. “How much?” Asked Germany. “This much,” replied the actual victims.
One gets the sense that Black Lives Matter wants money and preferential treatment in perpetuity.
One amusing example is the cost of cars in Denmark. They suffer a 180% car tax. Did you buy a $10,000 car? Be prepared to spent $28,000 on it. A 180% tax, apparently, might be enough for somebody. Here in the United States, liberals salivate over the time when they can do likewise in America. Back when I lived in California for a while in the early 2000s, I remember when the sitting governor was ousted by Arnold “the governator” Schwarzenegger, partly because of rolling blackouts and a demand for higher energy prices, along with a proposed car registration tax that would hit $1,000 or more for some models. That, apparently, was too much even for liberal California at the time, and Gray Davis got the boot. Jerry Brown’s proposals are much more modest by comparison, though still obviously heading in that direction.
But make no mistake, the love of northern European Socialism among contemporary liberals means they would like to do the same. It is merely a case of too many folks in America asking how much. So they can’t get away with it just yet. Still, if you ask them to provide a number of what is ideal for them, they never do. Always, the answer is more.
Let’s look at it from a more fundamental angle. We are told that we have it too good. Maybe it’s our white privilege showing, or perhaps male privilege, or straight privilege. Whatever. So we need to give up some portion of our wealth, our careers, and some of the benefits we’ve accrued in life.
Okay. I disagree with all that. But, even supposing I were to agree, what’s the bill? How much do you require?
I’ve never received a satisfactory answer to that question. What percentage of my income is demanded? More. How much of my assets must I forfeit? More. How much should I give up from my business and my career? More. I even ask Leftists, on occasion, to just give me an ideal average tax rate. How much should American citizens, as a whole, and on average, give up to the government? More. Never have I once received a reply that says “this is the tax rate that we want, then we’ll leave you alone.”
Thing is, the more argument is remarkably persuasive to many, because it eliminates the need for the Marxist to conduct a cost benefit analysis. We don’t need to know how many poor people were helped by a welfare program, nor do we need to know much it cost. All we need to know is whether more people were helped by it. And even the most wasteful and ludicrous of government programs will help someone, somewhere, who can be trotted out as a sad story. You hear this argument from the political Left all the time. “If it only helps one person…” Sure. I could go distribute millions from the treasury to random people in the street, and it would meet that minimal standard. But is this smart from a cost benefit standpoint? Probably not…
Weaponized Empathy comes into play here. If you oppose said welfare program, you must want the people involved to die, or to starve, or whatever. If you say no more, you’re a greedy, self-centered Capitalist asshole.
“You said no to helping poor people with more of your money? Wow. I just can’t even… how could you hate poor people that much? White privilege strikes again.”
There is a classification of human that doesn’t understand price, and always demands more. Yes, that’s right: the toddler. And toddlers are gifted at using empathy against you. When I say no, my son will pout, and sniffle, and try to make me feel bad for denying him. Of course, it doesn’t work on me. I just let him cry all he wants in the corner until the noise gets unbearable, in which case he gets a timeout or a spanking, depending on the severity of the tantrum. My wife is somewhat more susceptible to his charms, however. But even her tolerance is limited, and when it is exceeded, her punishments are probably a grade worse than mine.
Just because he wants some $100 toy, doesn’t mean he’ll get it. Just because he wants more cake (no amount of cake is enough for a toddler, as far as I can tell), doesn’t mean he’ll get it. And to be fair to him, the lessons are starting to take. The tantrums are growing fewer, and he’s starting to get it. But Marxists never really get it. Maybe they just weren’t spanked enough as kids, I don’t know.
But like the parent who says “time out” when the demands grow overly emotional, perhaps we need to start treating any attempt to use the more argument as the childish demand that it truly is. If a man can’t even be bothered to do a proper cost benefit analysis and present a bill, in other words if he can’t say this much is needed, then that man is not presenting a serious argument, no matter how many appeals he makes to morality, emotions, or helping the poor, oppressed people of wherever.
Instead, he’s making a toddler argument, and if it is illegal to spank him until he screams, then the least we can do as American voters is give that political toddler a proper timeout. Go sit in the corner, liberals, until you can learn that policies have costs, more is not a valid price, and “it’s not fair” is not a useful argument.
After all, even my two year old is starting to figure out that much.