Thursday, May 06, 2010
Why I 'Suspicion' the Obvious
UNINTENDED OBVIOUSNESS. I hate fisking conservatives and deep-down political allies. But sometimes it's necessary. I have to fisk this post, which is hard to do because I don't want to and he uses every format trick from italics to boldface to bolster his arguments. I need to highlight certain parts of his post and differentiate my added fisking text. Here's how I'll do it. When I highlight his text, I'll jump up the font size. When it's me commenting, I'll go old school: Courier type. Fair enough? He read the conversation between me and Doc Zero about the obvious. He's pretty sure the Doc holds all the cards.
Consciousness. And what it's NOT.
Arguing Against Attitudes
Arguments about arguments are being dissected in an Interesting debate between Instapunk, who submits this provocative list of things he believes to be obvious. I wish, because it's a good list and I find nothing there with which I disagree. The premise however, I can't abide. I only wish they were that obvious. They ARE that obvious.
Doc Zero weighs in on item the first: "Corporate taxes are paid by individual taxpayers". His argument is not that this isn't true but that it isn't obvious.
...it’s important to realize the average voter just doesn’t think about politics or economics in precise terms. Those who don’t study these matters as professionals, or enthusiasts, find them repellent and dull. However, they don’t want to come off as uninformed in polite conversation, especially when elections draw near. They construct a set of attitudes, instead of concrete arguments.
And MY argument, made in response to DocZero's somewhat fey take is that it really is obvious. To wit (what I said in my UPDATE after reading the DOc's piece):
A company posts a profit for the year and pays taxes on that profit. They still have money left over after they pay their taxes, which is called net profit after taxes. The income out of which they paid their taxes came from sales of their products to consumers like you. Who paid their taxes? Consumers like you. Does that make sense? Or am I getting into Occam trouble again? uh, I don't think so. If corporate income taxes suddenly went away, what would happen to their prices, do you think? Someone in their market would seize the opportunity of lowering prices to increase demand and market share. Others would have to follow suit. How markets work. Who was paying their taxes before the income tax went away? Three guesses and the first two don't count.
DocZero, 1,000 words. Me, 136 words. Some simple truths are indeed simple.
From here the essay evolves into an argument about how and what to argue, which counters Instapunk's introductory assertion that belaboring basic concepts is not the best use of conservative's intellectual firepower..
Instapunk's introductory assertion was this: "I was persuaded by Doctor Zero's argument that there is merit in applying advanced firepower to prove the obvious." Huh? The exact opposite of what is being averred here. This will show its relevance later.
I side with Doc on that point, although I have a quibble with another point where he says:
Too many essential truths have become “obvious” enough to turn invisible, because nobody thinks about them any longer.
What I think he is saying here is that essential truths are so prevalent they are taken for granted. I believe they have been taken for granted for so long that they are no longer either prevalent or obvious. I also believe that too many essential truths have been, are being, sacrificed on the alters of political correctness under the guise of pseudo compassion, though I did not make that point in my comments there.
Speaking of which... my comment:
Not sure I would agree with Instapunks list as being all that obvious.Now if he were to quantify his assertion that the list "should" be obvious to "those who think" we might get somewhere. If they were so obvious would we be in this mess?
If I reference this point in my opening paragraph, does it not suggest that I'm thinking about what this fellow is thinking about? Here's what I said in Paragraph One: "But I ask, in all humility, how many obvious things do we have to prove and is it possible, in the end, to prove them to people who no longer reason, read, or ruminate?" What is he saying that I haven't already said?
It seems so much of what was assumed to be obvious, that free enterprize and success based on merit is a morally superior economic system for example, no longer gets the institutional reinforcement it once enjoyed, and has been replaced by the counter argument. Commenters here tend to substantiate that observation in mentioning the gaps in their public education. Doc Zero's dedication to repopularizing first principles helps fill that gap and I applaud and share it. The filling of those gaps is the role being filled by the alternative media and it is having a positive affect. Notice I didn't say it was pretty, quite the contrary.
The success of the left came from a heretofore prolonged monopolistic control of the narrative. Corporate taxes, aren't on the average voters radar precisely because the left has successfully posited, incorrectly, that corporate taxes do not affect the average consumer. (How they can justify taxing corporations to kingdom come while trying to limit their freedom of expression via political donations is one of myriad left/liberal incoherencies that somehow remain largely unchallenged in the public debate. But that is a whole different issue) To me, because I think, the incoherency is obvious with a capital O.
debate therefore, should not
be about getting liberals to think, as that labyrinth of aforementioned
incoherencies has metastasized into a groupthink impenetrable by
logic. So I agree attempts at said penetration are indeed a waste
time and effort.
I'm pretty sure I said THIS in my initial post: "People on the left do not think. They pose, they preen, they presume, they polemicize, they piss on their putative enemies, but they do not ponder anything of import anymore. Since the last new progressive idea occurred to them a long human lifetime ago, they are, as a procreative power, suffering peripatetically from an enlarged pseudo-populist prostate gland. Their peeing is urgent, precise as a petunia watering can, and it pulverizes their peace of mind by keeping their little pee-pees problematic all night. Not to mention impotent. Like every pompous popinjay at the Puffington Post."
said, a strong consistent effort should be aimed
at self proclaimed moderates, focusing primarily at getting them to
think, period. The effort spent there, I believe, would be
fruitful than preaching to the hopelessly nonconvertible. That
will facilitate an open debate where truth and logic are allowed as
opposed to the fringy lib/left screed where those elements, though
never really explained, are foregone conclusions. Instapunk's
"obviousness" captures it perfectly.
So why didn't you understand it?
tried reasoning with a
liberal. I've tried reasoning with a brick wall. The latter
more sense every time. You are on the right track Doc, no pun
intended, arguing to assuage an attitude is very different than arguing
against a set of attitudes. The open re-examination of
principles, debateable on their own merits, has been an untapped
product in the marketplace of ideas for far too long. I'm not
Gore was counting on this when he invented the internets, but bless his
carbon trading billionaire heart for accidently providing the forum.
assuage an attitude is very different than arguing against a set of
attitudes." What does that even mean? Nothing. None of this post means
anything. The writer can't read. He doesn't understand what he presumes
to analyze. He misunderstood my essay from its first sentence. I wrote
about this not long ago. The syndrome is called "the purely
prudential use of language":
not because he knows what he means by them, but because he knows how
they are ordinarily used, and does with them what he has heard other
people do with them before. He strings them together in suitable
sequences, maneuvers them aptly enough, produces with them pretty well
the effects he intends, yet meanwhile he may have not much more inkling
of what he is really (or should be) doing with them than a telephone
girl need have of the inner wiring of the switchboard she operates so
It's the reason
why laboring the obvious no longer works. People who are assumed to
understand logic and rhetoric do not. They're just faking it. Their
hearts may be in the right place, but they're idiots with big
vocabularies and gnat-like attention spans.
Keep up the good work.
Sorry I had to do this. But I had to.
At heart InstaPunk is a nice guy. Well, no, not really.
So often, they make it impossible not to.