Liberal Rhetoric 101: Fallacy of the Single Cause

One of the things Biblical Conservatism has focused on as a running theme is liberal rhetoric and talking points. Today, we're going to begin a series talking about the actual rhetorical tactics used by liberals to formulate their arguments.

Our first issue is the Fallacy of the Single Cause. Specifically, a Single Cause fallacy is one where the argument is that "We did X (small thing) and thus Y (huge, overreaching thing) occurred!"

Let me give you some examples. A classic one is the Clinton Argument. We're seeing this argument brought up frequently now. The claim is that "Clinton raised taxes, and we had a booming economy and a budget surplus."  The use of this fallacy is simple: We are to assume BECAUSE taxes went up the booming economy and budget surplus happened. Economic history proves otherwise. There were a host of other issues, including the end of the Cold War, the internet boom, cuts in spending forced on Clinton by Newt Gingrich and the Republican Congress, and tax cuts that happened later (also forced on Clinton by Newt Gingrich and the Republican Congress) that deserve the credit long before an increase in taxes deserves it. (Especially because actual tax revenue went down after Clinton raised taxes.) 

Yet we are pitched the lie that "taxes went up, so did revenue, which lead to a balanced budget and a booming economy."

Another example of this fallacy is one that a friend likes to present: "There are more people who live below the poverty line in red states than blue states, therefore conservative government doesn't lead to prosperity as conservatives claim."

So much is wrong with this argument. First and foremost, the poverty line is a poor statistic. It's based on a national average median income of $50,054 per year for a family of four (we'll round that to $50,000 per year for simplicity's sake). The poverty line for the same family of four is $23,021 per year (again for simplicity's sake we'll call that $23,000).

There are so very many questions that aren't asked or even considered in this false claim. For one, the poverty line and median income are not adjusted for Cost of Living. Blue states, as a whole, have much higher cost of living than red states. Of the top ten most expensive states to live in, nine are blue states. The tenth is Alaska (which is a very unique state in terms of cost of living, as is Hawaii). All ten of the top ten least expensive states to live in are red states.

A family of four making $22,000 per year in a state like Tennessee has the same buying power as a family of four living on nearly $38,000 per year in Rochester, NY (where I live.) A family of four can certainly live on that income. That family is not below the poverty line in blue New York. Let's call the family in Tennessee the Fletchers and the family in New York the Flynns. The Flynns and the Fletchers can buy the exact same things with their respective incomes. Yet the red-state dwelling Fletchers are considered "below the poverty line." The blue-state dwelling Flynns are considered "above the poverty line."

This is just one factor that points out the false logic in this argument. There are many others. Liberals don't point it out. They simply repeat their argument. Ditto for the Clinton Argument.

As always, the solution is simple. We must break down these factors and force the liberal with whom you are debating to present a Prima Facie case (that is, present that their claim is true at first blush). Until they do that, it's nothing more than a false debate.