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Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc

11/19/2013 12:14 pm 12:14:11 | Updated Jan 25, 2014

Just because something happens after something else has happened does not mean that second thing had anything to do with the first thing. Things happen all the time. Constantly, all around us, things are happening and they may or may not have any cause and effect relationship.

Things may be linked, or said to be causal, when in fact they have no relationship at all. Like the invasion of Iraq after September 11th. If we were to review the rhetoric around that event we would say that the logical fallacy there was definitely of the "questionable cause" variety. Or this latest round of rhetoric about the Affordable Care Act, some insurance companies are canceling policies, so therefore our president must have lied. Nope. Not true. It is a handy talking point for the opposition, but it is in fact, just another logical fallacy.

Once you start listening for them, you'll find them everywhere. I can't help it now, from the news to sitcoms; I am listening for the rhetoric to separate the bias from the basis.

For example, if we look at tax policy and economic impacts, we can draw direct causation from policy decisions. That is after all the goal of policy decisions, to have economic impact. But, you will find many people trying to convince you otherwise. The minimum wage isn't the reason people are poor. Low wages which are not enough to live on causing people to go on food stamps and medical assistance are not the problem. Excessive compensation of executives is not the problem. The problem is people are poor and on food stamps. As if the effect, poverty, was there without cause, low wages.

Listen for it. You'll be fascinated. So when talking about economic impact of tax and labor policy we can definitely say "after this, therefore because of this." Because that is in fact the reason we have tax and labor policy. Do not let anyone convince you other this is not so.

If we look at economic data from the last 50 years or so, we can begin to develop some interesting conclusions. Post hoc ergo propter hoc. For example, executive wages have increased astronomically, but we are told a $2.00 per hour increase in the minimum wage will cause product prices to increase astronomically.

That is a logical fallacy.

We are told that the increase in welfare and food stamps is the problem, but this is a fallacy of omission, because the increase in the cost for welfare and food stamps is due to not increasing the minimum wage.

We are told that the problem with the economy is that taxes are too high when in fact the rich and corporations are proportionately paying much lower tax rates and actual taxes than they did in the past during strong economic returns.

We are told that our public schools are the problem when in fact our schools have better graduation rates and our students are improving, the problem is poor students are not gaining at the same rate.

We are told that teachers, police, and firefighters are costing us too much money while private companies are subcontracted at the same or a higher rate.

We are told that common good services are socialist, but corporate socialism is a common good.

We are told that only a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun, but, well, if that were true wouldn't the police have stopped all crime?

There are certain truths that are self-evident. The rest is rhetoric.

Funding public education, protecting our children, paying a living wage, and basic safety regulations are "good" things. They provide for our national well being, improve our economy and protect our future.

Funding private enterprise, protecting corporations, paying excessive compensation to executives and a free for all regulatory laissez faire attitude are not "good", they do nothing for our common good and actually hurt our economy.

We, as a society, have to make decisions on how we want the world to be. Do we want low wages and big social welfare programs, basically socialism to support capitalism, or do we want to do what is needed for our capitalistic system to work, which is have regulation of wages to provide for smaller social programs. It is one or the other. As I have said before, you can't have your cake and eat mine too.

So why are we here? Why are CEO's and executives making millions while the minimum wage is still under $10 per hour? Why are we discussing closing libraries, defunding schools and reducing public programs when we give trillions to corporations in subsidies? Why are we allowing our national resources and economic policy to be used to the detriment of citizens and to the benefit of legal fictions who are now considered protected by "free speech"? And yet those legal fictions are not held to the same standards when it comes to political contributions, why is that?

The problem is, too many people sit out elections. They think the system is broken.

It isn't. Something is broken, but it isn't our system.

What is broken? The people who sit out elections. They have been broken by misinformation, rhetoric and outright lies. They have been broken by campaigns to distract and distort the truth. And they have been disillusioned and disenfranchised by people who have a lot to gain by you staying home from the polls.

People have forgotten that this country was founded by a bunch of rabble-rousing community organizers. So if you don't like the world around you, get up and change it. Our system was built for dynamic action. The entire thing is predicated on participatory democracy.

And that means you.

So enjoy Thanksgiving. Be thankful. Eat, drink and be merry. And then, get up and do something.

For ideas on what you can do follow me on Facebook and Twitter. I'll be posting info, ideas and inspiration.