It’s that simple

Hey all. Coming back from a hiatus and hopefully creating a little more content and making more regular posts. The title of this post is a reference to one of my favorite clichés from people on…the internet. Usually it follows a meme or a statement like “if you don’t support X you are literally killing all women, it’s that simple.” You see it used by both the left and the right and usually it’s on facebook or tumblr, coming from people who have carefully curated a social echo chamber for themselves. In instances like that you’re really faced with the challenging decision of being petty and arguing on facebook (people don’t realize a lot of the time your argument is out in public for everyone to read and form their opinions about you based on) or just letting it go and agreeing that it is okay for misinformation, unreasonable arguments, and the disparaging attitude toward people who disagree with your opinion to be perpetuated. (By saying it’s “simple” you imply that anyone should be able to get it or understand it, so you’re already coming from a place of “I know the truth, you obviously don’t, I need to educate you.” rather than a place of “Here’s the facts I know, here’s my argument and why I’m convinced that this is the right stance.” The latter yields much more fruitful results.

But what to do? What to do about posts like this? If I’m being honest, about 50% of the time if a post is pretty egregious, I’ll engage the poster with a simple question that highlights something they might not have thought about if they really think that any big political issue can be reduced safely to something “that simple”. This also helps because it can expose me to any facts they might know which I didn’t about this topic. If you come out with guns blazing you’re going to make an ass of yourself a lot. Questions can often take the form of “how do they know that X caused that problem?” or “Great post, X. I’ve heard others say _______, where do you stand on that?”. At the same time, sometimes there are people who will just get very aggressive or unfriend you or whatever if you bring up counterpoints to their post or comment and as I mentioned before, the argument is out in the open for future employers or really anyone to see. Of course, you should make a strong and well-reasoned argument and not be ashamed of it being displayed, but things can easily be taken out of context. There’s a reason you’re not supposed to talk about religion or politics at dinner or in the workplace. Tensions can run high and people can get emotional about these two things especially, and when the goal is sometimes just to maintain a pleasant friendship or working relationship it is probably better not to be out there constantly butting heads on every issue. The same is true on facebook. Sometimes I just want to see your vacation pictures or check up on where you’re working now, or see your pictures of your new dog (this is the biggest draw tbh), and I can just scroll past if you’ve made a brazen, irrational, bigoted post. One person can’t engage everyone he disagrees with and honestly if you do this you’re a troll or a dick. Or a troll dick.

Instead, I have been toying with the idea of taking political cartoons or posts from my social sphere and removing all identifying information from who posted it, then discussing it here. I know I have a problem of being rather long-winded so these “it’s that simple” segments would aim to be themselves rather succinct and offer a few counter-points to the post in question. Often I’ll end up doing this with posts I agree with the sentiment of. When someone who holds an opinion I disagree with makes a stupid argument I can usually just scroll past because, whatever, the more people who are, for example: anti-GMO, who are out there sounding like raving lunatics, the better for me. This gives their argument more of a reputation for being conspiratorial and not really founded in reality. The worst, though, is when someone makes a pro-gun post (I am pretty pro-gun myself) like “we need all them ak-47s to kill the tarrorists muslamss ya’ll”. Now my position is the one being painted by some idiot on facebook.

To begin I just chose something that came up while I was scrolling facebook a day or two ago. It’s not special in that it’s the most awful argument I’ve heard or I feel really strongly about it, etc. It’s just what’s first.

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This post features what the artist believes is hypocrisy in a common political stance. For those of ya’ll who haven’t heard about this topic, a common manufacturer of epinephrine injectables (EpiPens, used to treat severe allergic reactions in an emergency) recently increased the price of their product astronomically. Issues with the image?

  1. You’re essentially arguing that because someone believes the law should prevent a company from selling a drug at whatever price they want, it’s crazy for them also to not want the government to entirely take over the healthcare system. That is ridiculous.
  2. Most people who are making a “no socialized healthcare” argument but who also want something to be done about the EpiPen aren’t usually saying “there should be laws” they are usually saying “there should be something done about this”. Clearly the author agrees with that opinion. So do I. We’re all in agreement here woooo. What some people might disagree with is the idea that the solution is to regulate the industry more, rather than making it possible for more competition to enter the market, thereby driving down the price of the EpiPen naturally. By circumventing the nuance of the argument, the author deliberately misrepresents two sides of an argument. I’m assuming here that the author is an intelligent person who is capable of doing a little research on a topic they are going to make a bold political statement on. Therefore, they could easily have made the argument that deregulation of the industry might not work any better than increased regulation. But who knows, maybe there really is someone out there making this specific argument that the author portrays. It just isn’t the most common opposing stance.
  3. It’s lazy. This is more of a stylistic point and opinion-based. It doesn’t portray a witty or intelligent commentary, it literally just has some fat angry white dude (that’s what everyone against socialized health care looks like! That’s a group we’re allowed to ignore the arguments of based on their skin color, sex, and appearance! Hurahhh!) wearing a shirt with one argument which he apparently supports so much he got it on a shirt and then a speech bubble with a different argument, and then the giant billboard with the EpiPen on it. I get it, I know political cartoons have to simplify things and usually don’t make a huge nuanced argument, but usually there’s some imagery in there or symbolism or wit.

My opinion on all this was initially “well, yes it sucks that they can do this but I don’t know if I’m ready to say yes the government should hold companies at gunpoint and dictate what price they can offer their product for. That’s a bit of a leap. One voice in the media who I tend to trust is Jim Cramer. Cramer graduated magna cum laude from Harvard with a B.A. in government, and received his Juris Doctor degree from Harvard Law. He is a talented journalist who was chief editor of Harvard’s newspaper The Crimson, is widely published, and hosts several shows on CNBC. If being a brilliant student of government and law as well as a talented journalist isn’t enough, he is also a successful investor. At one point he worked for Goldman Sachs’ Private Wealth Management division. He now runs a charitable trust which benefits charities with the money its portfolio makes. (Okay, now getting off Jim Cramer’s dick). He has said that something needs to be done and offered the two basic directions which we’ve already mentioned in this post “regulate it” or “let more competition come in”. I tend to trust Jim on issues related to the economy and law, and his perspective was pretty important in helping me form my opinion about the topic. He mentions how he has to take a medication which costs him thousands of dollars a month because his insurance won’t cover it and how he’s lucky that he can afford it, but there are others who can’t. This is where the “amoral” comment comes in. If you’re curious, this was the 8-25-16 or the 8-26-16 episode of Mad Money. Obviously I can’t link to it, but try to hear some other perspectives ya’ll. Peace.

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