5 Memes that Need to Die

Internet memes – what would social networks look like without them? We all “like” some, share, and laugh at the most clever ones (others…not so much). Memes are a simple way to communicate to your social network your opinion on various issues from issues as serious as war and peace to more innocuous issues like which way is the proper way to install a roll of toilet paper (I’m an anarchist on that question). Not everyone has the time to write lengthy blog posts about these issues but almost everyone has enough time to click “share.” Like blog posts do, sometimes, these memes open up great discussions or debates (but often devolve into childish nonsense…sadly).

There are a few memes that are so incredibly inane that you will wish there was a “dislike” or “this is so stupid” button option when it crosses your news feed. The following are 5 memes which deserve to die by way of a logical response. These are numbered but not intended to be in any particular order as they all just need to die.

1. Those Dastardly Koch Brothers
Koch

For some reason, people on the Left have a huge hate on for the Koch brothers. If we are to believe the above meme, the Koch brothers are so rich and powerful that they could single-handedly fire 17 or more congressmen. Apparently, its only a few wealthy individuals and/or multinational corporations which advocate Right-wing ideas who lobby in Washington or contribute to campaigns and form super PACs.

According to Opensecrets.org, Koch Industries ranked #14 in the 2014 election cycle and #50 all time. To put the remaining contributors into perspective in the 2014 election cycle, 29 of the top 50 corporations donated most or all their money to Democrat/liberal campaigns while 9 donated most or all their money to Republican/conservative campaigns (the remaining 12 donated more or less evenly to both though some certainly leaned more one way or the other).

Of course, dividing these campaigns into “liberal” and “conservative” is itself, problematic. David Koch is more of a libertarian (small “L” to be sure) than a conservative. He supports many of the same causes that progressives do such as cutting military spending, being anti-war, supporting gay rights, and ending the war on (some) drugs. Apparently being socially liberal isn’t good enough; being fiscally conservatives make the Koch brothers the spawn of Satan.

The underlying complaint here is that there is too much money in politics. I have a very simple and practical solution: if you don’t like money in politics, get politics out of money. If those in congress only did what they were constitutionally permitted to do there would be little or no reason to lobby at all.

2. Drug Test Everyone on Welfare
drug test
I have to admit that I was a little more sympathetic to the notion of drug testing people receiving welfare when I first heard it being proposed. After all, when you take money from taxpayers who are earning and paying for your basic necessities of life, do you not at least have the obligation to prove you aren’t blowing the money getting high instead of looking for work?

While this is a great idea as a principle, it turns out its a terrible idea in the real world. If the idea of drug testing is to save money, then the problem is – it doesn’t. Florida had this law (before it was struck down by a federal judge) and the results were quite interesting. Of 4,086 people who were tested for drugs, a whopping 108 tested positive. The costs of requiring the welfare recipients to take the drug tests cost more that what it saved from rejecting the 2.6% who failed. Other states which have tried this experiment had similar results.

I think its very important for those of us who dislike the welfare state remember that its not just the poor who receive it. There are parasites whose entire existence is made possible only through wealth redistribution but there is more than one class of parasite. If the true reason behind drug testing is to humiliate those receiving a government check (because we now understand that it isn’t to save money) then we should ask the board members and CEOs of all the major corporations receiving corporate welfare and bailouts to stand in line to fill the cup up to the line as well.

***UPDATE***
Brad has brought to my attention a post by Scott Alexander entitled: “Drug Testing Welfare Users is a Sham, But Not for the Reasons You Think.” This serves as an excellent counterpoint to the statistics I referred to above. Scott has taken a more critical look at these numbers and it seems that the MSM has been deceptive in the reporting. Why am I surprised that the same organizations which continue to spread the gender pay gap myth by telling only part of the story would do the same thing on a story like this? Shame on me for taking the bait and spreading misinformation.

All of that said, even if drug testing every welfare recipient would be a net cost savings to the taxpayer (I’m still not convinced it is), it doesn’t seem such tests will survive the court challenges that will follow. To survive court challenges, the law has to be written in such a way that leaves loopholes large enough to drive a truck through. What we are then left with is “feel good” legislation that isn’t good for much other than red meat for political campaigns.

3. Take the Walmart Family’s Money and Give it to Students!
Walmart family
I’ve seen quite a few memes suggesting wealth redistribution or raising taxes on the evil rich but I don’t think I’ve ever seen one quite this blatant. I haven’t verified if indeed the “Walmart family” is worth $144 billion or if they will get $6 billion in tax breaks this year; I’ll leave that for others to determine because its beside the point.

So…this Walmart family has a metric crapload of money and the person who created this meme thinks we should send men with guns to their homes and take that money to give to someone else? What s/he is advocating here is armed robbery!

There’s no additional explanation of why this idea is so morally wrong. If you agree with this meme, you are an immoral person.

4. Its Not Fair that Soldiers Make Less Money than Pro Football Players
HELMET
The above meme is probably the most persistent meme I come across. I probably see this one once every couple of months shared by the same people and receiving a dozen or so likes each time it’s posted. This is the sort of magical, social justice thinking I expect from progressives, not conservatives.

Yes its true, pro football players make much more than soldiers (and most of the rest of us). The thing is one has nothing at all to do with the other. The NFL makes about $10 billion annually yet it is a non-profit corporation (what?). For the purposes of this discussion, I’ll put aside my objections with subsidized stadiums and its tax exempt status (the NFL is one example of the other classes of parasites I mentioned earlier). Even if the teams were rightly required to pay for their own stadiums and the league was a for profit entity, the NFL would still make a great deal of money and have plenty to spend on players, coaches, scouts, etc.

As of the 2014 season, the salary cap for each team was $133 million. Multiply that figure by 32 teams – that works out to about $4.3 billion to pay every single player in the league. This leaves about $5.7 billion for whatever else the NFL spends money on. One should expect that with this much money coming in, the players are definitely going to think they deserve their share of the cut. Without them, there are no games and no $10 billion annually.

Here are the average salaries of their athletes: NBA = $5.15 million, MLB = $3.2 million, NHL = $2.4 million, NFL = $1.9 million.

Interestingly, the sport that brings in the most money and does more damage to the athlete’s body pays the average player the least amount of money. So why does this meme single out pro football players?

What does this have to do with soldier pay? Again, nothing!

But why not see what the Pentagon has to work with? In FY 2013, the Pentagon had a budget of about $603 billion (more than 60 times what the NFL made that year). The average Army salaries can be found here at GoArmy.com. It does seem that the active duty soldier makes a fairly meager income. The Army does offer quite a few non-cash incentives and benefits such as housing, healthcare, and childcare among others. That’s not nothing.

If the idea is to help soldiers earn a higher salary, comparing their salary to that of professional athletes isn’t the most productive way to go about it. Instead, perhaps their salary should be compared to other government workers including members of congress. Perhaps a better meme would say something like: “I think a man wearing a helmet in the name of defending this country should make more money than the suit and tie wearing politician pretending to be tough who wants to send that soldier to defend another country.”

Maybe it needs a little work but its already an improvement.

5. Straight Pride
straight pride
Funny thing…once I got past 8th grade, none of my classmates made a big deal out of a straight couple holding hands or kissing in public. Funny thing…I have never heard of an instance where a straight person had to come out in front of his or her family terrified s/he would be disowned for being attracted to people of the opposite sex. Funny thing…I’ve never heard of an instance where a straight person decided to stay in the closet ashamed of who they were and suffered for doing so. Funny thing…I’ve never heard of a phenomenon called “straight bashing.” Funny thing…I’ve never heard of a straight couple having much difficulty acquiring a marriage license.

Do you really want to know why there’s something called a “gay pride” movement as opposed to “straight pride” movement or why there are gay pride parades but not straight pride parades? Its really simple: Its because for the longest time, being gay was something to be ashamed of. Homosexuality was once considered a mental disorder by the APA.

Now a number of gay people have come to the realization that they are not ashamed but are indeed proud. They do this not only for themselves but also to encourage others to get out of the closet and face the world. The more people who do, the better it is for all gay individuals.

A little tip for those who are so put off by the “homosexual agenda:” mind your own business and stop making a big deal out of people being gay. The parades and the pride movement itself will fall away after enough years have passed when someone’s sexuality is no longer considered a big deal. This may even take generations. But as long as there are people out there who are trying to make the lives of homosexuals as miserable as possible via legislation and other forms of harassment, there will be a gay pride movement complete with parades and demonstrations.

Now, I’m not “ashamed” nor necessarily “proud” of being straight…I never had to be. But I’m not being politically incorrect by not posting this to my Facebook wall.

  • Brad Warbiany

    On the “drug test welfare recipients” front, you need to read this:

    http://slatestarcodex.com/2015/02/14/drug-testing-welfare-users-is-a-sham-but-not-for-the-reasons-you-think/

    That’s not to say that I disagree with you on the point of the memes. The meme basically exists to shame welfare users and make their lives miserable. As if the life of subsisting on welfare checks isn’t already miserable enough. I can imagine why it might make someone want to smoke a joint.

    But the numbers quoted regarding 2.6% use is a statistical artifact of the fact that ~18.5% of welfare recipients refused testing, and the most logical reason to assume they did so is because at least a healthy portion of them knew they’d fail the test and lose their benefits anyway.

  • RavenNation

    I always love the money in politics idea. At this point in time, the criticism comes from the left (it’s been different in the past) and is directed at the Koch Brothers and groups like the NRA.

    I think the reasoning goes something like this: “everything we believe is true and is best for society. There are people who don’t agree with us. Many of the people who don’t agree with us and dumb and led astray
    by the big money in politics. Other people who don’t agree with us are smart, but they are being corrupted by the money. If you take the money out of politics, we will be able to gently explain to the dumb people why they are wrong. And the smart people who don’t agree with us will no longer be corrupted and will support our ideas.”

    There really is no ability on the part of today’s left to consider that there is a principled, intelligent reason to disagree with them.

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  • Jonathan

    You took the words from my mouth.

  • Porfirio Aguayo

    Homosexuality is still a mental disorder.