Mallard Fillmore’s critique by reportage?

Here's a recent Mallard Fillmore cartoon.  It portrays president Obama making two inferences.  First, there is the argument by projected increase:

P1: The rate of entitlements in 1962 was 6%

P2: The rate of entitlements in 2012 is 35%

C1: Entitlements are increasing at a rate of .58% a year.

The second inference is the regular conservative culture of dependency argument:

P3: If one depends on entitlements, one is dependent on the state.

P4: If one is dependent on the state, then one will vote for the welfare state

P5: If one votes for the welfare state, then one will vote for liberals.

C2: Those dependent on entitlements will vote for liberals.

Putting C1 and C2 together yield the final conclusion:

C3: The proportional voting block for liberals is increasing at .58% a year.

There are other features of the presentation in the background, too, namely, that it's implied that Obama already knows about the culture of dependency argument, and that because of that, he's arranged to make P2 true.  That is, it's a politically motivated move to make people dependent so as to make them Democrats. 

Now, I think it's clear that Fillmore is displaying the inferences here critically.  So what's the critical edge to it?  Here's my best try to reconstruct it:  the implication is that Obama is intentionally making people dependent on government assistance to make them more liberal.  That will make them more inclined to vote for him and his party in this and upcoming elections. 

But two questions here.  First, I don't think it's appropriate to attribute the first argument to Obama.  Few people would think that rates of increase like this are projectable.  There was a story circulating a few years back that given the rate of dropoff of jobs in philosophy in the last year, we're only three years away from having NO jobs. Of course, few precipitous dropoffs are projectable, as there are natural bottoms and tops to markets.  So even after the precipitious dropoff in PHIL jobs, it hit a bottom.  The same, presumably, is the case with dependency, at least in the sense of entitlement deployed here.

The second is whether the second argument is right, too.  England has a conservative party.  They win elections. Shouldn't that be enough to show that government assistance doesn't guarantee political affiliation? 

Regardless, the weird thing is that the Fillmore cartoon presents the very bad inferences as not just intellectual moves, but as plans

3 thoughts on “Mallard Fillmore’s critique by reportage?”

  1. Interesting.  I think your analysis of cartoonist Bruce Tinsley's argument is correct.  It's a pretty common charge among right-wingers, though, that Democrats are basically bribing people (specifically, ethnic minorities) to vote for them, and this is destroying America, and sapping our freedoms, etc. etc.  (Roy Edroso at Alicublog winds up covering this sort of thing quite a bit, as he did in his Village Voice piece this week on rightbloggers' reactions to Biden's "chains" remarks.)  
    I don't know if his 6% and 35% numbers are accurate, but it's not an accident that he picked 1962, before Medicare and Medicaid came into existence.  There was a big jump, not a gradual increase.  And, speaking of logic, Ronald Reagan, made a slippery slope argument that creating Medicare and Medicaid would lead to "Socialized Medicine" (very similar to Hayek's dire warnings about the Road to Serfdom).  Of course, America has not become socialist (and Hayek was wrong, too).  Alternatively, since Medicare has proved to be very popular, one could argue that Americans like socialism (as long as it's not called that).  In a sense, Tinsley is just carrying on a conservative tradition of slippery slope arguments about social services.  (The re-evaluation after defeat never seems to happen, though, just retrenchment.)  

  2. Hi Batoccio,  A really nice observation about this being a form of slippery slope argument — one that works on the level of conservative worries about a culture of dependence and also works on the level of electoral politics. 
    And your point about the numbers is really worth underlining, that the jump in numbers after 1962 was because of Medicare, which, surely, he's not saying should be elimiated (nor does it guarantee people voting Democrat, either).

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