How Not to Argue with me; The Pathology of Ignorance

I imagine most people who spend the time to visit this place find it friendly to their politics. If you’ve ever wondered what I have to deal with when people disagree with me, you’ll be pleased to know that from time to time I’ll share some of those emails. I will never reveal the names of those folks because a) I have no idea if the name they use is real and b) I don’t have, nor can I imagine getting their permission to attach their name publicly to stuff they write.

Today’s gem comes as a result of my column on October 16 regarding my speculation that racism plays a role in some people’s disdain of President Obama. You can read that article here. Notice that I never say “everyone” or “most” or any other quantifier. I simply conclude that if you cannot offer any legitimate criticism of the President’s policies (beyond calling them communist, or Muslim, etc.) then it might be time to consider that your hate is motivated by race. I don’t argue that I know that for sure. I call it a suspicion in my column.

Well here comes the following letter:

Mr. Pontoni. My guess is you are now a teacher because you failed as a businessman. So now you can pontificate your socialist garbage rhetoric to young easily influenced kids.
It is disgraceful that you accuse anyone that disagrees with Obama as being a racist.  For most including myself his race has not one thing to do with his failures. Many were actual hopeful a black president could bring our country closer together racially. He has done exactly the opposite. He and people like you have no other defense of what this administration has done to this country but pull the race card whenever someone disagrees. What were you calling people like me when we had the same issues with Jimmy Carter?
This President has made making a profit a negative yet taking a risk for a chance of a better future is what made this country great. Giving people free everything including a cell phone has taken away all incentive to work hard. Welfare used to be a hand up until you get on your feet, now it is a right with no embarrassment associated with it.
The people you refer to that don’t know the difference between  Obamacare and the ACA are  unknowledgable about most things in government. Have you ever watched people on the street with Leno? These people can’t identify a picture of Biden. That is there mission, keep interviewing until you find clueless people.
We had so many options in lieu of the ACA that would not bankrupt this country. It will implode under its own weight and cause further reductions in full time employment and business risk taking. Keep in mind small business drives this country.
I don’t know what school you teach in but I feel sorry for kids that are subjected to your biased, racist, socialist rantings.

Let’s take a look at this rant. Like many people who can’t really put an argument together, our friend starts with a personal and professional attack. I failed as a businessman so I became a teacher. Well, he’s right. My business did fail. And I did become a teacher. But I’m pretty sure it wasn’t causal. He then goes on to immediately presume he knows how I conduct myself as a teacher. I imagine he was quite proud to be able to string “socialist garbage rhetoric” together, but I’m struggling with using “garbage” as an adjective. I think he could have left out “rhetoric” and still made his point. But I guess I’m quibbling.

Next comes the typical whopper. The complete misstatement of the premise of my column. I didn’t realize that I ever accused “anyone that (sic) disagrees with Obama as being a racist.” First off, I’d be calling myself a racist and that’s unlikely to be something I’d do in public. I don’t agree with the President on a number of issues. And, as I said earlier, I only “accused” those who could find no legitimate reason for disliking the President to consider racism as a possible explanation.

My friend then presents an interesting claim: I have no defense for what the President has done to our country. Well, again he may be right. Of course, I don’t know what horrible things the President has done and my friend didn’t bother to tell me. I’ve never tried to defend him for something I didn’t know was his fault. I’ll try harder.

He asks me what I was calling people like him when they ripped Jimmy Carter. That’s one of those open ended questions that leaves him wide open to the best (or worst) of my wit, but I will pass in deference to a guy who apparently loses his mind every time a Democrat takes office. (Being pissed off for 40 years about Jimmy Carter seems like a tremendous emotion burden.)

He then wanders into the minefield of economics. A journey for which he is woefully unprepared. He pulls out the “Obama is a communist” argument indicating that our President is an enemy of capitalism. Some enemy. Stock market, corporate profits, income disparity at all time highs. I’d hate to see what would be going on if Obama liked capitalism. He pulls out the “Obama gave everyone a cellphone” argument and that Obama has institutionalized welfare in this country. Hmmm…Bad President….Bad President….oh wait! It’s not true? Even the most rudimentary research will show that President Obama has never given people a cellphone. (Ok, well maybe his daughters.) This was a rumor started by Fox News during the last election cycle and it has been shown to be false countless times.

Next, our friend and I agree that the Kimmel video which showed people liking the ACA and hating Obamacare was biased. We don’t know how many people they interviewed to find that group of people, but my point was only to show an example of the type of people who might actually be caught up in the racism problem. If the only reason you hate “Obamacare” is because the President’s name is on it, you might have a race problem. I was not using the Kimmel video as “data”, only as an example.

Our friend then tosses out the doom and gloom prediction (based on no data) that the ACA will bankrupt the country, blah, blah, blah. As with most people who rip the ACA, they have almost no idea what it is. The ACA is NOT healthcare. It’s NOT a government health program. It’s a mandate for every person to carry health insurance (most of it private) or face a penalty; it’s the very same concept behind car insurance. True, the government intends to subsidize costs for low income families. There will be costs, but with less than 10% of the people involved in the insurance marketplace, it’s hard to imagine these subsidies destroying the country. I can see trillion dollar wars bankrupting the country, but a system of private health insurance? Nah.

Finally our friend expresses his sadness for my poor students. Like other ignorant people, he presumes to know what happens in my classroom. He doesn’t. I’m a professional and I can easily draw the line between what I think and how I teach. My students are fine. We’re just finishing the Communist Manifesto this week, and in our craft class, we’ve got some great clay busts of Lenin to put up around the school. We also recently held our annual “Ayn Rand Book Burning Festival.”  I’m proud of them all.

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2 Comments on “How Not to Argue with me; The Pathology of Ignorance”

  1. So October 23, 2013 at 11:53 am #

    “It’s a mandate for every person to carry health insurance (most of it private) or face a penalty; it’s the very same concept behind car insurance.”

    If you don’t own a car, the government doesn’t require you to buy health insurance. Poor analogy.

    • Mark Pontoni October 23, 2013 at 12:44 pm #

      I assume you mean “the government doesn’t require you to buy car insurance.”

      You’re right…the health insurance and car insurance analogy isn’t perfect.

      But the government also doesn’t pay for you to get rides (bus subsidies aside). In the end, however, when you get injured and can’t afford it, all of us are left holding the bag. So while the analogy isn’t perfect, it demonstrates the idea behind spreading risk among the largest pool of people affected by a potential risk. Rates will come down and fewer people will lose everything because they were unlucky enough to get sick. Win-win-win.

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