Coffee and Conservative Misinformation

I was sitting at Starbucks and overheard two conservatives talking politics. It took all my strength to keep myself from going over and correcting the misinformation that one of them was sharing.

But I couldn’t keep myself from making sure my readers do not fall prey to the same misinformation. So here are the three main points I want to clear up.

President Richard Nixon was never elected president when he resigned. He was elected as Vice President and assumed presidency.

False. Richard Nixon ran for president in 1968 and won the election, carrying 32 states in a horse race against Hubert Humphrey and George Wallace. He served a full term, and was re-elected in 1972 in a landslide, carrying 49 states.

Also, the president before Nixon was Lyndon B. Johnson (D), whose Vice President was Hubert Humphrey (D), not Nixon.

Richard Nixon resigned because he was using his money to bribe people to vote the way he wanted them to, and people caught on to him.

That would be scandalous, whether for paying voters or statesmen, but that is not what happened. Nixon sent men to spy and wiretap the Democratic Party’s headquarters, and they were caught and charged for breaking and entering.

I originally thought money wasn’t at all involved, but I have since learned that Nixon’s campaign paid the men. This is how the investigation led back to Nixon, and eventually led to his resignation.

So, there was money involved, but the money was not used to bribe anyone to vote a certain way.

There are many people who could work, but instead they hire an attorney and find all the loopholes so they can be dependent on the government.

While there are many people with legitimate reasons for their inability to work, I agree that we have a problem with too many people that are dependent on the government. My issue with this statement is that I don’t think they hire an attorney or can even afford one. If I am wrong, and they are using the government’s money to take the government’s money, that would be appalling.

When they report there are 5% unemployed, there are another 5% that are living off of money from the government.

My biggest issue with this statement is that it oversimplifies the issues. I’m not going to state the latest statistics, because they change too often and vary by source. But here are the issues in play:

  • There is a large number of people dependent on the government. Some are employed, many are not. Either way, this needs to change.
  • The unemployment rate doesn’t tell the whole story; we have the worst labor participation rate in a while. This also needs to get better.
  • The unemployment rate is the number of people reporting they are unemployed divided by the number of people reporting they are employed. Many people aren’t reporting (see the previous bullet point). Those who are reporting, are likely receiving money from the government for unemployment. I don’t suggest we get rid of this benefit, but they are in the “dependent on government” category as well.

Have you heard any misinformation that you are unsure about or would like to clear up? Do you have something to say about my points above? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

3 thoughts on “Coffee and Conservative Misinformation

  1. Can you elaborate on the “uninvolvement rate” and how it differs from unemployment rate?

    1. Sarah,

      The labor participation rate is defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as all persons classified as employed or unemployed as a percent of the persons 16 years of age and older residing in the 50 States and the District of Columbia who are not inmates of institutions (for example, penal and mental facilities, homes for the aged), and who are not on active duty in the Armed Forces. Last month’s rate was 62.6%, which is a 38-year low.

  2. The comment about “hiring an attorney to get more money from the government” may be related to this scenario: Anyone can apply for disability and a board reviews the application, accepts, or rejects it. Most are rejected. A person can then appeal that decision and they often hire an attorney to help with the appeal. Most of these attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. When/if the appeal is successful, the attorney submits a bill for legal fees to the disability board. When the disabled person receives his/her first payment, the social security office (this is SSDI) takes the attorney’s fees out of the payment and sends it directly to the attorney. If the appeal is successful, there is a lump-sum of back payments dating back to the date of the original rejection, so it tends to be fairly large, as the appeals process takes about a year. So, in a sense, the disabled person is using the government’s money to hire an attorney to get the government’s money.

    And the president who was never actually elected for office was President Ford, Nixon’s Vice President. When Nixon was elected, Spiro Agnew was his running mate. About a year before Watergate, Agnew was convicted of charges of tax evasion and had to step down from the Vice Presidency in disgrace. Ford was a senior Republican Senator and was selected by Nixon to be his new Vice President. When Nixon resigned under the disgrace of Watergate, Ford then became President of the United States. He has the dubious honor of being the only man to ever hold the offices of Vice President and President without ever being elected to either position. A little trivia for you.

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