Since at least 2009, there has been going around on social media this little set of sentences that seems like a simplistic bit of conservative wisdom, but is something to be called out as wrong, misleading, and illogical. Here I present the sentences along with my take on counter argument.
2. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. Antidote: As if there were just two people and one apple tree—with one apple. Both can receive. Our economy is strong enough to give to needy and still have plenty. And again, helping out those who can’t work can help the broader economy, as they turn around and buy groceries and clothes.
3. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. Antidote: We are the government. We have decided that it is in our best interests to provide for some people, on moral grounds and for our country’s future.
4. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it. Antidote: This is not true. Consider a headman and his workers. To gain the harvest, the rich headman must make sure his workers can work to bring in the harvest. And again, giving more people purchasing power is an economic engine which can work to raise the general wealth of the society.
5. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them; and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for - that is the beginning of the end of any nation! Antidote: As if half the people are going to decide to sit on the couch. People do things.
Be aware, be prepared. Review online lists of common illogical arguments. Don’ let these things pass unanswered.
You might be tempted to just call out the misleading title: Best sentences might be expected to include ones such as these:
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. (M.L. King, Jr. letter from Birmingham jail)
“You were right, dear.”
But maybe don’t. The purpose of the misleading title is to lead you unsuspecting into a barrage of bad argument.