The intellectually weak tricks continue with the suggestion that the appeal of an idea is somehow indicative of it’s merit. I first noticed this in the introduction, alongside a clip of some hip teens picketing for an issue they don’t understand. It’s done again at the 18 minute mark, in reference to the Bernie Sanders campaign. If we attempt to convert this into a logical argument, it’s easy to see the holes.
Premise 1: Idea X is popular.
Conclusion: Idea X will produce desired outcomes if implemented.
There is nothing about the popularity of an idea that guarantees it’s value. If anything, the approval of the reliably misguided masses should trigger doubt in our minds. As Mark Twain once said; “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”
Eventually, Wolff acknowledges the criticism that the problems America is experiencing today are attributable to a perversion of capitalism. However, he quickly dismisses this view as driven by fear and a reluctance to accept the need for change. He says that, if we were to go back to ideal capitalism, history would repeat itself and we would wind up in this position once again. But what is this position that we find ourselves in? It’s socialism. This mess is the very system that Wolff and his ilk are advocating for. The United states has been on a centralized fiat currency for a century. This has lead to economic downturns and the squeezing of the working class. Enormous spending on social welfare has been the norm since the New Deal. The truth is; the history of America’s long decline is a socialist history. Furthermore, Wolff’s assertion that capitalists want to turn back time is a complete straw man. Sure, in many respects capitalists see current policies as worse than some previous policies. This could be said of anyone’s position unless they are completely satisfied with the status quo. Complete straw man. Ridiculous.
Next, Wolff tells us that capitalism amounts to a tiny handful of bourgeois fat cats owning the means of production and therefore controlling society. It’s worth pointing out that productive enterprises do not have to be owned by a single person. Nike, for instance, is owned by countless millions of individuals through an innovative arrangement called sharing. In fact, Nike has more owners than laborers! Nike isn’t unique either. This arrangement is commonplace, with pricately held businesses like WaWa and New Balance being exceptional. However, for the sake of argument, lets imagine a factory which produces widgets and is entirely owned by a single individual. What power does that one man have over society?
Both laborers and employers must compete on a market. Laborers advertise their skills and effort to employers. Companies compete against one another with wages, working conditions, and other benefits. At the end of the day, a laborer goes to work only when the arrangement is fair.
A graphic from Wolff’s documentary misrepresents the relative gains between employer and employee. It would have you believe that businesses regularly pocket 90% of the wealth created by labor. In fact, the average US worker is paid closer to $25/hour and creates a mere $105 in wealth.But there is more to the equation. Businesses are also required to pay taxes, hire lawyers, obtain raw materials, cover energy costs, shipping, and more. At the end of the day, manufacturers like Nike have net profits of about 10%.