Lead with the Godwin!

Thomas Sowell opens his article over at the American Spectator with a sentence that would make any fan of Godwin proud (see the know your meme bit on it!):

It was either Adolf Hitler or his propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, who said that the people will believe any lie, if it is big enough and told often enough, loud enough. Although the Nazis were defeated in World War II, this part of their philosophy survives triumphantly to this day among politicians, and nowhere more so than during election years.

What Sowell points out as the lie is that the gap between rich and poor has widened (because the rich are getting richer, not that the poor are that much poorer).  Whether it's a lie or not isn't the issue, but rather the analogy employed to describe the dialectical and political situation.  Or, perhaps, I was just reading a parody site of Thomas Sowell's essays (think Poe).

3 thoughts on “Lead with the Godwin!”

  1. I'm guessing that like Sowell, Goebbels never included links to the primary sources for the data he cited.
    It's also cute how Sowell mixes and matches different terms and concepts. We all know by now that for tax purposes, "income" is not just "income." Sowell claims that "income" fell by 36% for the top 1%. But he doen't define what he means by "income." Does it include/exclude interest, capital gains, dividends, etc?
    Oh well. Just a thought: What was the name of Hitler's accountant.

  2. Wow.  He really wrote that.  (Good find.)  I'd say both are issues.  Yes, the analogy is outrageous, and it's a worthy subject for focus, but it's all the more so because Sowell is outrageously cherry-picking to completely misrepresent the data.  Megan McArdle tried the same trick (same basic data to make the same basic point).  This is sort of a Karl Rove gambit – accuse your opponent of what you yourself are doing (lying) although of course Sowell is not a Nazi, just a hack.  I've normally only read Sowell when Sadly, No or other blogs have dissected him, and he's never come out looking good, but still, that's probably the most disingenuous piece I've seen him write.  Just two links for now (many, many more if needed) but the main point is that context really matters:

    Additionally, America has pretty lousy economic mobility compared to other developed nations, contrary to what Sowell suggests.  Paul Krugman and a few other writers have written some good pieces about "wealth inequity deniers" (akin to climate change deniers) and their various fallback positions.  Sad. 


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