The Daughter's Friend
People are the common denominator of progress. So... no improvement is possible with unimproved people, and advance is certain when people are liberated and educated. It would be wrong to dismiss the importance of roads, railroads, power plants, mills, and the other familiar furniture of economic development.... But we are coming to realize... that there is a certain sterility in economic monuments that stand alone in a sea of illiteracy. Conquest of illiteracy comes first.
John Kenneth Galbraith
WE'VE BEEN WORKING through another email from propagandists who call themselves "conservatives".
I'm using quotes there, to differentiate the propagandists from the true conservatives.
It involves a discussion between a father and a daughter about "redistribution of wealth".
The daughter thinks that extremely wealthy Americans ought to be taxed at higher rates—the way they were during the Eisenhower, Nixon, and Reagan administrations.
The father, a "conservative", doesn't think this is a good idea.
As the story continues, he makes his case...
One day she was challenging her father on his opposition to higher taxes on the rich and the need for more government programs.
The self-professed objectivity proclaimed by her professors had to be the truth and she indicated so to her father. He responded by asking how she was doing in school.
Taken aback, she answered rather haughtily that she had a 4.0 GPA, and let him know that it was tough to maintain, insisting that she was taking a very difficult course load and was constantly studying, which left her no time to go out and party like other people she knew. She didn't even have time for a boyfriend, and didn't really have many college friends because she spent all her time studying.
(I'll make a minor point here, and a major one:
- The minor point: notice how the game of knocking college professors continues.
This is intended to play upon the theme of anti-intellectualism the "conservative" propagandist believes the audience shares.
He thinks the average citizen is not only stupid, but proud of it, and rejects all educated views.
- The major point: notice that the girl is working very hard to earn her grades herself.
This is of great significance.
She isn't paying someone else to take her tests or do her homework for her—that is to say, she isn't cheating.
She's doing the work herself, and getting the rewards herself, for the work she has done.
That's a principle that both real conservatives and real liberals (no quotes, in either case) both approve of.
Her father builds on this point...)
Her father listened and then asked, "How is your friend Audrey doing?"
She replied, "Audrey is barely getting by. All she takes are easy classes, she never studies and she barely has a 2.0 GPA. She is so popular on campus; college for her is a blast. She's always invited to all the parties and lots of times she doesn't even show up for classes because she's too hung over"
Her wise father asked his daughter, "Why don't you go to the Dean's office and ask him to deduct 1.0 off your GPA and give it to your friend who only has a 2.0. That way you will both have a 3.0 GPA and certainly that would be a fair and equal distribution of GPA."
The daughter, visibly shocked by her father's suggestion, angrily fired back, "That's a crazy idea, how would that be fair! I've worked really hard for my grades! I've invested a lot of time, and a lot of hard work!
Audrey has done next to nothing toward her degree. She played while I worked my tail off!"
(Do you see the shell game here?
- The subject was the redistribution of wealth—an idea based on three facts, and a conclusion:
- Fact: The middle class and the working poor do almost all of the real work in this country.
- Fact: Those same people are constantly falling behind economically, in spite of the fact that they are the ones producing whatever economic prosperity we have.
- Fact: Meanwhile the Paris Hiltons (the super-wealthy of various stripes, including Wall Street) are in a position to skim off half the wealth, for reasons that have nothing at all to do with how hard they work or what they produce—when, in fact, their poor performance has actually thrown us into a recession which the poor and middle class are paying for while they prosper.
- Conclusion: It might be a good idea to actually find a way to make them pay some taxes, and help to fund a better life for the middle class and the working poor, including this girl's father.
So the question is: Who's Audrey in this scenario?
- The hard-working middle and lower class, who are earning the "grades", or
- The partying, under-performing, super wealthy who are getting the "grades"?
In other words, the daughter's reaction was completely in line with her "liberal" political position.
Just as it would be unfair for Audrey to get grades that the daughter had earned, it is unfair that the super wealthy get the prosperity that the rest of us have earned.
Redistribution of income is simply the idea that those who actually do the work ought to be the ones to reap the benefits—not the people who have managed, through luck or skill, to be in a position to steal that wealth.
But of course the father doesn't realize any of this...)
The father slowly smiled, winked and said gently, "Welcome to the conservative side of the fence."
(The "conservative" side of the fence being the one which believes that those who inherited wealth, got it by cheating or stealing, or at the very best by skimming it off of the hard work of others, ought to be allowed to keep it while those who earned it go without.
Doesn't sound all that conservative, does it?
But the email now continues to part 2—the list of propositions about the nature of "conservatives" and "liberals"...)
Next: Liberals vs. Conservatives...