I was so genuinely appalled by the Republican Response to the State of the Union that I was inspired to create a Daily Kos account to be able to release my frustration and ideas in someway other than just talking my mom's ear off about it. Sorry about the lateness, I know the Republican Response was quite a while ago but I still feel the need to at least say something. So follow me below the orange squiggle...
The Republican Response by Mitch Daniels was so horrifying to me. I cannot seriously understand how someone who obtained a Bachelor's Degree with Honors from Princeton, went on to earn a Juris Doctor with Honors from Georgetown and is currently the governor of Indiana could make so many logical, statistical and factual fallacies in only a 13 minute speech that I, as a 17 year old public high school student, could recognize and point out the first time I watched the Republican Response.
First off I will address the statistical fallacies.
"The federal government now spends one of every four dollars in the entire economy..."Since so much of what Mitch Daniels had to say was quite inaccurate, I decided to look up this quote and see if I could find anything to back this up. I did find from a few sources that the federal government does spend about 24% of our GDP. GDP does not equal economy. The GDP is by definition is the market value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period. This does not encompass the entire economy. He also claimed that our government has had an,
"Unprecedented explosion of spending.".
When actually the percentage of the GDP that has been spent by the government has fluctuated between 15% and 25% since the 1950s. It has been a slow and steady rise in these last 60 years, not an "explosion". In addition, between 1940 and 1950, the percentage of the GDP that was spent by the government went as high as 43%. So clearly, spending that is about 24% of the GDP, is not by any means some unprecedented amount of spending. And you know what? We survived. And because of the way in which the Great Depression was handled by the government, we quickly moved out of it.
In a far worse statistic he also stated,
"One in five men of prime working age, and nearly half of all persons under 30, did not go to work today."At a quick glance, anyone who doesn't put much thought into his words would probably think to themselves, "Wow! So many people are unemployed! How horrid!" When in fact this sentence says absolutely nothing of any sort of value. First of all, "one in five men" really bothers me. Men? So do women not count or do you still think that we are still in the pre-women's rights period in which the word men was synonymous with the word people? Second, "nearly half of all persons under 30 did not go to work today", this does indicate that he does recognize the fact that the word people indicates something separate than just men, I guess women just don't count. And, how much is nearly half? That sounds sketchy already. And "did not go to work today", isn't that interesting, because last time I checked the legal age to start working in the United States is 14. In 2000, the population of people under 30 was about 119,000,000 and of those 68,000,000 are 15 or under. I don't think that it takes a math expert to see that more than %50 of the population under 30 cannot legally work so I would sincerely hope that "nearly half of all persons under 30 did not go to work today". I do know that sometimes people make "mistakes" in how they word things and maybe he meant people of working age when he said that. But then why would he specify that one in five men were of prime working age if it were to be assumed for both parts of the "statistic". Aside from that, he claims that they "didn't go to work today". This does not say unemployed. This says did not go to work. Does this include vacation? Sick leave? A day off? The unemployed? Who knows. This is called, as I learned from my AP statistics teacher in the 10th grade, statistical bias. (If you can even call what he is trying to claim a statistic.) He is speaking in such a way that makes you think what he says means a certain thing when really, what actually says has no value.
So, moving on to logical fallacies.
"In word and deed, the President and his allies tell us that we just cannot handle ourselves in this complex, perilous world without their benevolent protection. Left to ourselves, we might pick the wrong health insurance, the wrong mortgage, the wrong school for our kids; why, unless they stop us, we might pick the wrong light bulb!"This is an excellent example of two main categories of logical fallacies. These are Straw Man fallacy and Hasty Generalization fallacy. To make this a little more clear, a Straw Man fallacy is a component of an argument based on misrepresentation of an opponents position. The reason that many people and politicians in our country want to have a national health care, aide in mortgages, and provide schools that are open to the public is not because the government is some huge entity that does not trust its people to make decisions for themselves. In fact, it has absolutely nothing to do with that in the slightest. The idea behind these programs is to help people so that they don't have to pay as much and have equal access to the fundamental rights to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" by making sure that income is not an exclusionary factor. In this sense, he misrepresents the opponents position an argues the misrepresentation, not the actual opponent's opinion. This makes his argument false. On top of that, he uses another fallacy in the same statement. A Hasty Generalization fallacy is basically reaching an inductive generalization based on insufficient evidence. Such as, "Since the government won't let me choose my health care, I also won't be able to choose other things that I buy, so that means I won't be able to choose what I buy from the store and so that means I won't be able to choose my own light bulbs! Oh the horror!" Doesn't this sound crazy to you? Well, some may call his statement hyperbole. However, the part of the population who are not educated on politics and policies and probably in this case do not know what hyperbole is, will take this sentence literally. That's what worries me.
Update: I honestly had no idea that the light bulb reference wasn't completely random. I had a few commenters point out that this did refer to some actual controversy right now of "Lightbulb freedom" so my argument of claiming this as a slippery slope fallacy isn't entirely accurate. So thank you to Mr Raymond Luxury and EthrDemon
Beyond all of the literal fallacies, there were so many things that just do not make sense to me in his statement. However, this will move more into my personal opinion rather than just pointing out the lack of logic in his speech.
A few examples are as follows;
"The President did not cause the economic and fiscal crises that continue in America tonight. But he was elected on a promise to fix them, and he cannot claim that the last three years have made things anything but worse."Maybe this one is my personal opinion but Obama definitely can do more than "claim" he didn't just make things worse. I know for a fact that there countless examples of how his policies have actually stimulated and helped our economy.
Update: Thanks to a few of the people who have responded to my diary I'd also like to add to what they had to say on this matter; "No, he was not elected to fix the crises because the crises came very close to the end of the election. He was elected for change not to fix the mess and he has still done a good job with that." from liberalconservative -- Thank you for that, so very true. I think we tend to forget that since so many conservative politicians love to claim it. I feel almost brainwashed by them when I've tried so hard to stay away from that :( And another great addition from a comment, here are a few specific examples of what Obama had done: "1. the economic stimulus act: proposed/passed within months of his inauguration, it pumped approx. 800 billion into the economy, creating/saving roughly 1 million jobs directly/indirectly. per the CBO, it kept the unemployment rate from increasing by a full percentage point. 2. the auto manufacturer bailout: started by pres. bush, and continued by pres. obama, over the objections of congressional republicans. it provided funds (unavailable from banks and other private sources) enabling the country's 3 major car manufacturers to restructure, and become profitable again, without eliminating 1,000's of jobs in the process. GM posted its largest profits in its history in 2011. this bailout was firmly opposed by mitt romney, currently one of the leading republican candidates for president." Thank you cpinva !!
"The only way up for those suffering tonight, and the only way out of the dead end of debt into which we have driven, is a private economy that begins to grow and create jobs, real jobs, at a much faster rate than today."Well, isn't that funny? Last time I checked, this style of privatized economy has NEVER worked. In fact, when the economy is most privatized, it suffers the most. I feel as though so many people like to forget the Gilded Age. At the boom of industrialization, almost everything was privatized and laissez-faire policy for businesses was in full power. The businesses did great, industries prospered, and the richest man in world history lived in this era. However, what also came out of this era was the worst wage-worker and child labor abuse our country has ever seen. The food industry was filled with factories in which festering meat would have bleach pored on it before being put into the processor along with dead rats and occasionally the unlucky worker who slipped in. Since there wasn't any protection or safety in the work place measures taken, deaths and work related injuries were common. Instead of helping those injured on the job, they would be fired. This was all for the purpose of saving money, of course. And aside from what history has shown us, major economic research groups in our Ivy League schools including Yale and Brown have been proving and strongly urging that the government needs to spend more to help our economy and that privatizing will put the entire country at a stand still economically.
So, as Mitch Daniels claims,
"The problems are simply mathematical, and the answers are purely practical.".
Think to yourself about what this he is truly claiming here. Does any sort of math really seem to support what he's saying? Does anything practical seem to support any of his response to the State of the Union? I guess that's for you to decide but from what I've seen, I would say that's a "No!" loud and clear.
Update: So, I have done a little bit of updating but there are a few more things I'd like to do so don't worry if something I responded to at the bottom that I said I would look into has not been changed.
And seriously thank you so much to everyone who commented, shared and recommended my post. I was not expecting even a tenth of the response I got and I feel so honored to have somehow made the recommended list on my first post. I look forward to reading more responses and writing more blogs in the very near future!!