Responding to attacks from admitted ‘numbed minds’ ? or, Roy, you ignorant slut!

I’ve come to the studied conclusion that “Reality Check” is NC Policy Watch code for “Goodness, we don’t have a substantive counter for that!”

Consider their reaction to Roy Cordato’s recent Macon report on N.C.’s price-control laws. It’s mere fulmination. They bring no substantial argument against Roy’s report. Instead, they offer:

? More ex terrori descriptions: “Radical right ? market fundamentalist ? pro-price gouging, pro-usury spiel ? rehashed, far-right, ‘ivory towerisms.'” [Oh, Margaret! Hide the children!]

? Straw man combined with argument ad novitam: “we followed the ideological breadcrumbs from a John Locke Foundation missive known as the ‘Free Market Minute’ all the way back to the 25 year-old musings of an obscure, California college professor.”

? Reductio ad abstinentis: “Here are some zingers from the report” (followed by said “zingers” to which no counterargument is even offered, as if to imply that those comments are wrong on their face and no counterargument is needed).

? Petitio principii (begging the question) combined with argument ab ignoramus: Rather than acknowledging the many areas where Roy points out the failure in practice of the price-control laws, NCPW ignores all those points and vehemently reiterates the intent behind those laws as if that is refutation.

It is akin to the famous scene in “A Few Good Men” in which the character Jo issues an objection in court, is overruled, and replies, “Sir, the defense strenuously objects ?” (not only is she overruled again, she’s later mocked by co-counsel: “Objection. Overruled. No, no, no, no, I strenuously object. Oh, well, if you strenuously object, let me take a moment to reconsider!”).

Here are NCPW’s strenuous objections, pleading that the premise be accepted and ignoring Roy’s many arguments against the laws in practice:

? “The point of anti-price gouging laws, of course, is not to undermine the market but to preserve it. By placing limited restraints on price gouging during disasters, the public is requiring sellers to play by the rules ? something that is essential to all successful markets.”

? “The same can be said for our century-old antitrust laws which came about in response to the kinds of monopolies (does Standard Oil ring any bells?) that the report seems to deny ever existed.” (I’ll let Roy have fun with the Standard Oil example; that ball is perfectly teed up.)

? “For the real scoop on predatory ‘payday lending,’ one need only look at the latest report from the Center for Responsible Lending ?,” which is question-begging by proxy, since that “report finds that across the nation payday borrowers are paying more in interest, at annual rates of 400 percent, than the amount of the loan they originally borrowed.”

? Red herring plus argument ad misericordiam: “As for the minimum wage, it will no doubt come as a relief to the thousands of workers struggling to survive below the poverty line that their poverty has nothing to do with their income.”


It’s a tribute to Roy, apparently, that his critics cannot dismantle his argument but instead have to rely of personal potshots and disingenuous, fallacious retorts.

A personal favorite:

Though it goes on for a mind-numbing 44 pages, North Carolina Price Controls adds nothing new to the debate over the proper role of public institutions in regulating the market economy.

It’s not as if Roy needed to reinvent the wheel. Especially since NCPW still demonstrably has no counter to what the “free-market fundamentalist” crowd has had to say.

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