What Ignorance Looks Like

What Ignorance Looks Like

Following up on my article on a woman with dangerous ideas, today's post is about a man with ignorant ideas.

Tucker Carlson may get a great deal right, but this recent anti-capitalism bender he's been on is terrible.

One of the biggest mistakes Tucker makes is a common one I've heard countless times by those who are willfully ignorant or by those who have an agenda: Amazon and large corporations that underpay their employees (single mothers are almost always the poster children for this) such that those employees need to receive public assistance (most commonly SNAP) to survive are having the cost of their labor subsidized by taxpayers. Therefore Amazon and other big corporations owe taxpayers a great thanks.

Let's use some logic

On the surface it sounds reasonable, but once you think about it for more than 5 seconds it becomes immediately clear how weak this argument is.

Why is it just the employer that's benefiting from this arrangement? Are the landlords and utility companies not also benefiting from the taxpayer assistance? Do those companies owe taxpayers gratitude?

What about grocery stores? When it comes to SNAP benefits they gain more than any other kind of business. If grocers simply lowered their prices then struggling mothers would be better able to make ends meet. So instead of blaming the employer for paying too little for labor why not slam the grocery store for charging too much?

The opposite effect?

It's clear the grocery business is already very competitive and prices are generally as low as can be afforded by the merchants. But what if Federal assistance had the opposite effect and actually increased wages? Think about it this way: Taxpayer assistance provides negotiating power for the employee such that they're more willing to walk away from a job knowing they have this assistance still coming. This would generally reduce the relevant supply of labor, which would normally cause the price of labor to rise.

Obviously it's not quite that simple because there are other parts and pieces involved including the drop in benefit assistance that comes with an increase in pay and all that but the general point remains that it's possible that instead of allowing these corporations to underpay employees as they claim, it's quite possible this assistance causes wages to be higher than they otherwise would. If that's true then those on Federal Assistance, not the businesses, owe the taxpayers a thank you.

Capitalism and capitalists are not the enemy

I don't know where this is coming from for Carlson but he's falling into the trap set by the likes of Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, among many others, and he should be smarter than that. Capitalism is not the problem. Being rich is not the natural state of humanity – being poor is. Capitalism, which is little more than a system of voluntary exchange, has allowed more people to raise themselves out of poverty than all the government programs have accomplished in all of human history. Critics will argue that businesses like Amazon exploit workers and earn billions in profit off their labor but the reality is workers work there voluntarily, and politicians are no more interested in the welfare of the citizens than the business owner is; politicians are interested in only in power and re-election. If that wasn't the case then capitalism would never have been created because it wouldn't have been necessary.