A slippery slope towards justice

Bryce Covert has a piece about a poor person finally being allowed to testify at Paul Ryan’s very serious and earnest inquiries into the War on Poverty. Apparently, Republican Todd Rokita (who?) thought he’d be a real dick to the person, and the result was pure genius:

He gave a “theoretical example” in which the government would increase spending on government programs like food stamps and welfare by 500 percent and asked, “They [people on the programs] would be out of poverty and that would be a good thing?” to which Gaines-Turner responded, “Yes, the programs work, yes it would be good to move them out of poverty.”

File this under Great Moments in Failed Slippery Slope Arguments. I can see the Congressman in my mind speaking to his staffers: “I am going to hit her hard and be like ‘if welfare is so great, then why don’t we just give out like 5 times as much to everyone.’ She won’t know what to say about that.” But then, of course, she did know what to say, which is: sounds good, sign me up.

Later on in the piece, Covert describes another bit of genius that came out of the poor woman. The Congressman was trying to pester her on the whole “government dependence” bore, which is stupid because everyone is dependent on the government for their particular distribution of resources (see property law). In response to the pestering, she says that she isn’t “dependent on the program,” but in fact “independent on the program.” This is an impressively clever retort that deserves to be popularized.

The failure of Rokita’s effort at a slippery slope argument reminds me of a line my constitutional law professor (of the Critical Race Theory persuasion) enjoyed utilizing. When students were asked whether the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment should invalidate economic policies that disproportionately impacted the poor, many would say “we can’t do that because every single economic policy could be implicated under that interpretation.” In response to this suggested slippery slope consequence, the professor pushed back “so the problem would be too much justice?”