Chris Dillow: When bad arguments work

Chris Dillow finds When bad arguments work.

It’s often said that many people oppose higher taxes on top earners because they hope (mostly wrongly) to become one themselves. But this is only part of the story. We sympathize with the rich not (just) because we hope to become rich ourselves, but because we hear so damned much from them.

There’s a nasty flipside to this. If we don’t hear from people, we tend not to sympathize with them. Separate experiments by Agne Kajackaite has shown this. She got people to work where the rewards went not just to them but to a bad cause (the NRA). She found that when people chose not to know whether the money was donated to that cause, they behaved more selfishly; they worked harder to make money for themselves. “Ignorant agents behave in a more selfish way” she concludes.

Thigh might well have political effects. WBecause the worst-off have less voice, we are relatively ignorant of their suffering and so less sympathetic to them. Support for benefit cuts isn’t based solely upon outright untruths, but upon a lack of sympathy for them caused by their relative lack of voice.

Most of us, I guess, can name far more people who are in the top 5% of the income distribution than in the bottom 5%. This introduces a bias towards the rich.

My point here is that the media’s bias isn’t merely conscious and deliberate. There are more subtle ways in which it serves the interests of the well-off.

Emphasis Mine

The workers need to continually raise their voices through protests, strikes, and their own media. We cannot be silent. Our voices matter. We should rely on celebrities to promote our causess. This we must do ourselves.

Also, this is the reason that the state keeps restricting those actions through laws and regulations. A quiet population is easier to suppress.

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