The Right is no stranger to logical fallacies; it almost couldn’t exist without them. One of the less considered, but most often invoked fallacies, is one known as a “false dilemma.” Also known as the “false dichotomy,” “and/or thinking” and “black and white thinking,” this fallacy rests on the notion that there can only be one of two possibilities. That only one of two extremes may exist. But logical people like Senator Elizabeth Warren beg to differ.
On December 2nd, the ever-objective Wall Street Journal published an op-ed by Jon Cowan and Jim Kessler. Both are of the Washington-based Third Way think tank, which has been described as a group of “oligarchy promoters pretending to be reasonable” (Which is actually an accurate description of The Wall Street Journal itself) The op-ed itself is filled with phrases like “left-wing populist fantasies,” and budget-cut suggestions that effectively say to anyone under 50: “Screw you, we got ours.” They also speak quite a bit about Senator Warren, who must be doing something right to have drawn these oligarchs’ black and white ire:
“Undeterred by this undebatable solvency crisis, Sen. Warren wants to increase benefits to all seniors, including billionaires, and to pay for them by increasing taxes on working people and their employers. Her approach requires a $750 billion tax hike over the next 10 years that hits mostly Millennials and Gen Xers, plus another $750 billion tax on the businesses that employ them.”
Note, again, that these are paid “thinkers,” whose educations apparently didn’t include instruction on logical fallacies like the False Dilemma. It’s hard to say whether they truly believe that shades of gray do not exist, or whether they’re paid to figure out ways of convincing us that they don’t. Equally amusing is the notion that they care, at all, about younger generations. But Warren isn’t about to slide down their Teflon-coated slope of “reason.“ She told the Huffington Post on December 5th:
“It’s just flatly wrong. We could make modest adjustments and make the system financially stable for a century, and we could make somewhat larger adjustments and make the system pay more for seniors who rely on it … The conversation for too long has been about whether to cut Social Security benefits a little bit or a lot. And that is flatly the wrong debate to have in mind.
The Social Security system is not adding to the debt at all. More importantly, if we made no changes at all, Social Security would pay out at its current level for about 20 years, at which point it would drop by about 25 percent and pay out forever into the future.”
As Warren asserts, the Social Security system is hardly in danger of sliding down the slope that bank-funded, non-think tanks like Third Way propose. Not that their proposal should come as any great shock: while the group claims to be centrist to Democratic, they draw a huge chunk of their funding from a D.C. consulting firm known as Peck, Madigan, Jones & Stewart. This group is a front for a corporate lobbying firm that represents, among many others, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Humana, New York Life Insurance, PhRMA and Mastercard. Humana alone donates $50,000 a year to Third Way as part of its yearly budget.
Bearing that all in mind, Third Way’s observation that Warren’s plan to raise both benefits and social security taxes would entitle Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan, to a higher social security payout, seems more than a little ironic. Warren replied:
“Oh please. I’m out there working for Jamie Dimon the same way Dick Cheney is out there trying to save the environment.”
A quick reply to a laughable premise — as though the CEO of JP Morgan were worried about his social security payments. Remember: “think tank.” But, just in case Mr. Dimon were worried about his social security, Elizabeth Warren isn’t shy about calling out Mr. Wall Street on his endgame agenda:
“It’s part of the larger issue about a rigged playing field. They don’t wanna pay more, they don’t wanna pay a fair share. I believe everybody should pay a fair share. That’s how we make sure people can retire with dignity. That’s not what Wall Street wants to do.“
I’ve had a theory for about 10 years that the Boomer and Silent generations as a whole have officially declared war on everyone younger. There are days when I’d swear that they’re doing their best to cling to relevance, live forever and kill their kids. It wouldn’t be without precedent; since the days of Kronos and Zeus, fathers have feared replacement by their offspring. And given Zeus’ later proclivities for using his power and everlasting fertility to seduce nubile youths, I’m pretty sure you could run this metaphor out long enough to thoroughly explain the existence of Viagra.
Like the McCarthian witch-hunters of yore, it seems that these people never really let go of the “Us vs. Them” mentality that defined their relevant era. They’ve been “all good” for so long, and thought of any opposition as “all bad,” that it truly wouldn’t surprise me to learn that they did, in fact, have a deep-seated hatred for and fear of those who will someday replace them.
Maybe enough fear to create a false dilemma, a black and white slippery slope of utter illogic that the rest of us will live to pay for — and that’s a very real dilemma, indeed.