Damn It Grandma!

A conversation tool and guide for people struggling to deal with obstinate friends and family members

A Note On Bias

Bias appears everywhere; it is inherently human to process new information through past experience to help interpret it. It's also a fact of life that the truth is often difficult to find, whether due to purposeful obfuscation or the chaotic nature of the universe. The best tools we have to understand the world around us are, after all, just observation. The best science of the 17th century said that mercury could probably turn lead into gold, but Isaac Newton died very poor, with outrageous amounts of deadly lead in his system. However, science, economics, and society at large are systems in progress. They are constantly evolving yada yada yada


But the stock market has never been better!

Trickle down economics! A rising tide lifts all boats! As long as the stock market is cooking, everything else will fall in place. This is the gov't's most important job.

There are a couple common misconceptions about the economy that can lead people to bad conclusions.

First, the stock market is not the economy. The major measurements of the stock market that are always bandied about are usually the Dow and NASDEQ, right? Well, both of these are simply indices (or averaged measurements) on a group of stocks. In the case of the NASDEQ, it follows almost all of the stocks listed on the NASDEQ stock exchange. In the case of the Dow, it measures just 30 large companies. So this raises the obvious question: Can we really say the economy is healthy just because the stock of 30 large companies is doing well?

Surely that depends on who you are. If you're a major stockholder in those companies, then you might feel like it is. But the vast majority of people don't have money invested in the stock market. Instead, we could look at the real buying power of the average family. Since 2001, the median household income for renters rose 0.5%, while rent prices rose 13%. At the same time, US wealth has become increasingly monopolized by a smaller and smaller percentage of people.

As the Pew Research Center or the Brooking Center will show you, the top 1% of people now have more wealth than than the entire middle class here in America, and that gap is always increasing. Since 1995, the share of wealth held by the lower and middle income groups have decreased while the rich have gotten richer.

As you can see here , Trump did worse with the stock market than Obama over the same span of time in their respective presidencies. This actually follows an established trend reported by Forbes , where the stock market tends to do better under Democratic presidents than under Republicans.

Global warming? When hell freezes over

The climate is always changing! Volcanoes generate more carbon than humans! Environmental protections get in the way of the economy!

The basic mechanism of global climate change is very easy to understand. Much like a greenhouse, our atmosphere lets in more solar energy than it lets out. This is the mechanism that allows life on Earth. Without it, solar energy would just bounce away, and like other planets in our atmosphere our environment would be unlivable. As the concentration of gases in the atmosphere grows, this basic effect becomes more pronounced. To keep with the greenhouse metaphor, adding more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere is like adding more and thicker glass to your greenhouse.
As these changes progress, the world changes in some subtle but very important ways. Places that used to receive a lot of rainfall will quickly start to see decreased annual precipitation, meaning global food stocks will be affected. And these changes are happening already. Even here in the US, where people so often feel that they are protected from the calamities of the wider world, the effects of climate change can already be felt in some tremendous, visceral ways.

All lives matter!

Riots aren't the way to get what you want! Black on black crime is the real problem!

Read Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me
Our justice and social systems are built to prop up white Americans at the expense of people of color.

I'm not sick, I shouldn't have to pay!

I pay for insurance, I shouldn't have to pay extra just to help someone who's too lazy to pay for their own insurance!

Americans already pay 4 times more per person for healthcare. And that's for a medical system that lags well behind the rest of the developed world in patient outcomes. Our rate of infant mortality, death in childbirth, and death due to lack of care is many times higher than the rest of the developed world.

A great deal of that goes to pharmaceutical and insurance companies - third parties whose only vested interest is in keeping their stock prices high and their costs low. Their bottom line costs you money but never lends anything to your health.

Life Begins at Conception!

Every life is precious! Abortion is murder!

Abortion is one of the mostly fiercely debated topics in American politics, and for many people it is the deciding factor in the way they vote. The traditional wisdom is that the GOP is the pro-life party, and for that reason most single-issue abortion voters are reliable Republicans.

However, study after study show that this traditional wisdom is mistaken.

The abstinence-only sex education policies, combined with decreaed access to birth control and abortion, that are the centerpieces of Republican policy on abortion actually drive abortion rates higher. When women are given better access to knowledge and resources, specifically safer sex practices, birth control, and knowledge of how to use it properly, abortion rates drop. While Republican officials like to tout themselves as the pro-life party, the truth is that Democratic leaders and policies are much more effective at decreasing abortion rates.

This means that a voter truly concerned with the proliferation of abortion should step back from the party line, remember what is really at stake, and vote for officials pushing for increased access to reproductive health care, more freedom for women to plan their families as they wish, and increased funding to organizations like Planned Parenthood that offer a wide array of services designed to improve women and children's health.