When the Rhetoric Rolls Over the Facts

Judging by my social media feeds, Neil Cavuto’s interview with Million Student March organizer Keely Mullen has… ummm… captured the imaginations of many conservatives.  Frankly, a whole ‘nother post could take up the question of fairness.  On the one hand, adults should hesitate to mock the poor kid, who at least had the gumption to go on television — the much-vilified Fox News, no less — and express her views.  On the other hand, these kids are doing real harm to real people’s lives, so we kinda have to take them seriously.

Suffice to say that revolution is grown-up stuff, and we can’t let kids tromp through our society just because they don’t know any better.

The obvious observation that many have made is the economic illiteracy at play in Mullen’s talking points.  “The 1% will always exist,” she says, noting that “there’s a ruling class in every country,” and the government should take from them “until we have a system where not one in two American families are threatened with poverty.”  As Cavuto attempts to teach the youngster, there’s a question of math, here, even before we get to incentives.

Progressives who think the wealth of the rich is stolen from the poor aren’t exempt from doing the math to figure out whether redistributing the it back to them will really make a difference.  I mean, if every third person in the United States gave me a penny, I’d have around a million dollars, making me rich, but if you took it all away and distributed it among the bottom two-thirds, they’d each get a penny.  Woo-hoo.

As Cavuto points out, taking the whole trillion dollars from the top 1% wouldn’t pay for even one of the Million Students’ three demands, and contrary to the beliefs of the economically illiterate, that money doesn’t just magically reappear in the accounts of “the rich” the next year.

The fascinating commentary that hasn’t gained as much attention, though, came when Cavuto asked if Mullen, her friends, and her family would be happy to pay a little bit more to make her demands happen, to which she responded:

I come from an incredibly working class family, and my family is already on numerous forms of government assistance, and is basically scraping by, you know, in order to get me through college.  I live in a world, and I see a system around me, where there’s a population that’s doing nothing to contribute to the progression of society.

So, here’s a girl — central to whose philosophy is the premise that the rich do “nothing to contribute to the progression of society,” despite a progressive tax structure — whose family is already drinking deeply at the well of wealth redistribution, for whom that is simply not enough, and who has no idea how much money the rich actually have.  All of that would have to be addressed before it’s even possible to discuss what effect it would have on our society to attempt such dramatic redistribution as the whining college kids are currently demanding.  That is, after you do the math around taking my pennies away from me, you have to then consider whether other people will do the sorts of things I did to get those pennies and whether there’s value to having people do such things.

Progressives aren’t serious people.  They’re dangerous, but not serious.

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