An Amusing(?) Anecdote

I am sure I am not the only person in the world that gets these emails. You know the ones that I mean. They are usually about some family relation, and are supposed to teach us some uber-valuable lesson that would have been impossible for us to learn unless we got that very email. I have put a copy of a story from an email forward from an old mission buddy of mine.

A young woman was about to finish her first year of college. Like so many others her age, she considered herself to be a very liberal Democrat, and among other liberal ideals, was very much in favor of higher taxes to support more government programs, in other words redistribution of wealth.

She was deeply ashamed that her father was a rather staunch Republican, a feeling she openly expressed. Based on the lectures that she had participated in, and the occasional chat with a professor, she felt that her father had for years harbored an evil, selfish desire to keep what he thought should be his.

One day she was challenging her father on his opposition to higher taxes on the rich and the need for more government programs. The self-professed objectivity proclaimed by her professors had to be the truth and she indicated so to her father.

He responded by asking how she was doing in school. Taken aback, she answered rather haughtily that she had a 4.0 GPA, and let him know that it was tough to maintain, insisting that she was taking a very difficult course load and was constantly studying, which left her no time to go out and party like other people she knew. She didn’t even have time for a boyfriend, and
didn’t really have many college friends because she spent all her time studying.

Her father listened and then asked, ‘How is your friend Audrey doing?’

She replied, ‘Audrey is barely getting by. All she takes are easy classes, she never studies, and she barely has a 2.0 GPA. She is so popular on campus; college for her is a blast. She’s always invited to all the parties and lots of times she doesn’t even show up for classes because she’s too hung over.’

Her wise father asked his daughter, ‘Why don’t you go to the Dean’s office and ask him to deduct 1.0 off your GPA and give it to your friend who only has a 2.0. That way you will both have a 3.0 GPA and certainly that would be a fair and equal distribution of GPA.’

The daughter, visibly shocked by her father’s suggestion, angrily fired back, ‘That’s a crazy idea, how would that be fair! I’ve worked really hard for my grades! I’ve invested a lot of time, and a lot of hard work! Audrey has done next to nothing toward her degree. She played while I worked my tail off!’

The father slowly smiled, winked and said gently, ‘Welcome to the Republican party.’

If anyone has a better explanation of the difference between Republican and Democrat – I’m all ears.

So there are several reasons that I take issue with this kind of story. First, it is very obvious that this story is about as factual as Battlefield Earth. This whole thing probably never actually happened. The story was made up to simply prove a point. I am all about learning from personal experiences, and I will readily admit that well-written literature can be very convincing, but this kind of email forward is neither well-written, or true, and so it loses all persuasive ability for me.

The second issue that I have with this type of argument is that it takes a complex issue, in this case the difference between democratic and republican parties, and makes it into something where there is only one choice. I don’t know much about politics, but I am sure that the democratic party is not all about the redistribution of wealth through higher taxes, and I am sure that the republican party stands for more than just letting people hold onto their wealth. If the parties were different in only one regard, then there would be no need for political or presidential debates to discuss different standpoints on issues. You can be a democrat that supports lower taxes, and you can be a republican that supports government aid programs. Isn’t it our responsibility to make sure that everybody has a chance to get an education? I think that programs that support people that are making an honest effort are to be commended, not deplored.

Third, the story makes extreme assumptions. Not only does the author ignore important issues to simplify a complicated argument, but the analogy drawn between the hard working student and the party girl is very polarizing. You read the story and are left with only one option, to agree. You are made to think, “Well, she deserves those grades because she worked hard!” But there are flaws with the underlying assumptions for the argument. The argument assumes that everybody that works hard gets good grades, and that everybody with good grades works hard. It then equates grades to wealth. If everybody that worked hard was wealthy, then we would not having the term “working poor,” and if everybody that was wealthy worked hard, then Paris Hilton wouldn’t be wealthy.

I could go on about this for days (just ask Roni), but I think you get where I am going here. This email doesn’t make me want to run out and join the GOP, it makes me glad I am associated with no particular party. Then again, maybe that is just my college education polluting my way of thinking.

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