Usually, when you encounter an item with no definitive price tag, it is because the item is absurdly expensive.
When a potential customer is forced to ask for the price, the salesman might gauge his wealth, his gullibility, his willingness to part with his money, and a myriad of other things before settling on what he believes he can get out of the unwitting sap. It also provides an opportunity to sell the customer on the object, rather than merely counting on the item and its price to convince the potential buyer.
Socialists have a habit of doing this for most political issues. They rarely provide definitive costs, and if they do, you can be reasonably assured they are either blatant lies, or terribly inaccurate. President Obama assured us that the Affordable Care Act would lower premiums. It didn’t, of course, save for those who were subsidized. And, in essence, those were not cost decreases so much as a wealth transfer. Obfuscating costs and exaggerating benefits is, after all, a very ancient sales tactic.
That socialists are ignorant in matters of finance should surprise exactly nobody. But we on the Right are often guilty of underestimating their salesmanship ability. It is easy to get trapped into endless what-if theoretical arguments about edge cases.
Back during the Republican primaries before the 2012 presidential election, Wolf Blitzer decided to drop a rhetorical bomb on Ron Paul. Wolf spun a hypothetical, asking Ron the following question:
“A healthy 30-year-old young man has a good job, makes a good living, but decides, you know what? I’m not going to spend $200 or $300 a month for health insurance because I’m healthy, I don’t need it. But something terrible happens, all of a sudden he needs it. Who’s going to pay if he goes into a coma, for example? Who pays for that?”
Being a doctor who actually delivered pro-bono care for patients, on occasion, Ron answered the question effectively, stating that his practice never turned away patients. After all, he personally cared for many hard cases. It was a rather embarrassing moment for Wolf Blitzer.
In a way, however, Ron Paul’s reply was dodging the underlying fallacy. Wolf was positing a theoretical healthy man with a good job, who somehow had no insurance (most people with good jobs are insured). Furthermore, he apparently had no significant savings, no friends and family to assist him, and could obtain no charitable aid – something that has become much easier in the days of GoFundMe pages. Does such an individual actually exist in America? How many of them are there?
Should we accept socialized healthcare because of this one theoretical edge case? The socialist will spout absurdities like “if it saves just one life” or “if one child dies, then…” assuming such edge cases should determine national policy, because to do otherwise would be immoral. Put simply, they expect a 100% success rate for all Rightist policies and ideas, or else they are deemed immoral and the socialist policy must be chosen. The socialist policy, of course, is rarely put through such intellectual rigor.
This is when rightists must deploy their own rhetorical weapon. It is garlic to the socialist vampire. It wards away the beady-eyed tyrants with angry hisses and puffs of smoke.
“How much does it cost?”
If every single person in America is, under any and every circumstance, no matter how rare or unusual, supposed to be provided with perfect medical care, how much is that going to cost? If the government is to guarantee every single person food, shelter, transportation, energy, and other essentials, how much is that going to cost?
The socialist will almost invariably attempt to steer the argument to the moral level. “You just want to push granny off a cliff,” they might say. But even the socialist system must make decisions based on cost. So long as we live in a society where resources have scarcity, their allocation will always incur costs.
Socialists merely obfuscate the costs behind layers of bureaucracy. Nobody really knows how much that medication costs, or how much it cost to produce your food. That the socialists don’t know the cost, and are ill-prepared to discuss costs does not mean costs don’t exist.
Should any of my readers encounter a Wolf Blitzer-like ‘gotcha’ question, consider asking him what his preferred policy will cost. How much is he prepared to pay to achieve his goal? The vampire will attempt to retreat into a moral imperative argument, how we are fundamentally evil for even asking this question. Why, everybody needs care, right? So how can we be so heartless as to discuss cost? Clearly, however much is required to do the job must be spent, right?
Some of the smarter socialists will attempt to escape by obfuscating costs. Try to think of your real tax rate. Oh, when your do your taxes, you will see the income tax, Social Security, Medicare, etc… and will likely enter figures for other taxes like property taxes, sales taxes, etc… But even this fails to paint a complete picture. Everything from car registration fees to hidden taxes, like the payroll tax, are everywhere. The corporate taxes find their way into your pocket too, with passed-through higher prices. State and local tax enters into it, along with various sin taxes on everything from cigarettes to sugary drinks.
I submit that nobody knows what he really pays in taxes, and that is deliberate. And if you don’t even know what you’re paying, how can the average layman hope to pick apart the spending of various Federal agencies and programs? It is easy to move money around on paper, and the level of complexity serves as an additional layer of obfuscation itself.
But the fact that nobody really understands the cost does not mean the cost magically vanished. It’s still there. It is merely that the socialist has made it so that nobody (not even himself) can see it or understand it.
And if you do not know the cost of a thing, how can you weigh it against the benefits, and determine what direction is best? You can’t. With cost removed from the table, the Socialists are free to only talk about benefits. They are the salesmen telling buyers they can’t tell the price. Or if a price is quoted, it’s like a 4-square worksheet designed to deliberately confuse the poor mark and fleece him of more money.
Socialists have a lot in common with salesmen – probably more than either would like. The only difference is, occasionally the salesman is still selling a good product. With socialism, misery is the only end product.
When you encounter a socialist, deploy the garlic. What does it cost? Only the most persistent of socialists will be able to weather that question. And those are what helicopters were invented for.
Thales is a DJ, Byzantinist, sad puppy, and another defender of the West woken up by social justice idiocy.