The new discussion I encountered today was whether the minimum wage should be abolished and, sure enough, out the Usual Suspects trotted with their analyses to prove how much better everything would be if only such a change were to be implemented.
What gets me about all this is the way these propositions are treated as if they’re blue-skies thinking, a venture into Terra Incognita, as if the world has always had minimum wage legislation and no one has ever considered what may happen were we to get rid of it. It’s always what would the world be like if, (better, apparently), instead of looking at history books to discover what was the world like when, (clearly worse).
Just as these (predominantly American, though the nonsense is catching on with the far economic right elsewhere) pundits appear unable to look back, so too they seem unable to look from side to side. All the terrible things that could happen if the USA were to tighten its gun laws are theorised as if discussing the possibility of life on Mars when, in reality, America stands alone when compared with other nations at a similar level of development for being so lax and has a dramatically higher murder rate. Likewise healthcare reforms. “Heyre be Dragyns”, apparently, up to and including one person who informed me the idea was socialist, socialism leads to tens of millions dying of starvation, ergo if Obama has his way then tens of millions will die of starvation. All I could say as a Brit was I never noticed, but perhaps I had other things on my mind at the time.
Discuss it for long enough, and up pops a new argument. ‘America is different’. Apparently, this difference works such that Americans have to keep shooting each other and sick people must live in a state of considerable financial anxiety from now until hell freezes over because America is special.
So much for ‘The American Way’. If that were ‘The British Way’, I’d find another nationality. (Indeed, with Cameron at the helm, I may end up doing just that).
We can assume, I suppose, that these people put forward their arguments in the hope of winning them. What makes these arguments so unspeakably dumb is their proponents would be better off losing them. Were they to convince people that banks should not be regulated, the welfare state should be dismantled, the minimum wage should be abolished and all the rest of it because that’s the only way capitalism can function, then the vast majority would suffer under that system and would be better off looking to overthrow it altogether. They will have ‘proved’ Marx right. As for gun laws and healthcare, all it proves – if they’re right – is America is indeed a special case. And it sucks.
Given – one assumes – that it would be better for them if they lost the argument, why can’t they just learn to shut the fuck up? Is it all some elaborate Marxist conspiracy?
Update: This post, originally written on September 28, 2014, pre-dated the Sanders campaign for the Presidential nominee of the Democratic party in which, (at first, anyway), he was selling himself as a ‘socialist’.
Point proven. Plaudits, please.