Dragging people down instead of trying to make things better

Perhaps I’ve blogged about this before. The tendency has existed long before social media, but social media makes it even easier to broadcast one’s ressentiment. Today this one popped up in my newsfeed, edited because Facebook and Twitter will use it as the image for this post:

Epipen Ressentiment

See what I did there? The original post suggests that because children’s parents are being charged nefarious costs, drug users should also be charged nefarious costs. That’s, of course, either idiotic (in most cases) or evil (if you’re selling epipens). By crossing out the second sentence, I changed the message. That people are being gouged of their limited resources because they or their children need epinephrine to not die is screwed up.

One might object that they think children are blameless and that drug users deserve worse. Even thinking that, to try to drag the conditions of drug users down instead of to raise the conditions of children up is at best an expression of bitter ressentiment.

And this is, of course, just one form. This shoddy rhetoric also comes up with the minimum wage. Some people will say that, for example, nurses only make $13 an hour, so clearly people working cash registers should make less than $13 an hour. Thinking and speaking that way only drags everyone down. If you want to hold onto that nurses should make more than cashiers, then instead reason that since everyone working should make at least, say, $15 an hour, nurses should make at least $20 an hour. And instead of saying we should make drug users pay up or die, instead say nobody should be forced into such a bad situation.

2 responses to “Dragging people down instead of trying to make things better”

  1. Levelling down objection! These people want to create equality with policies that make no one better off and some people worse off. #DerekParfit https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1467-9329.00041


    1. Thank you for sharing that article — it’s extremely excellent.

      I think the problem with the statements these people are making is slightly different. (Or, the one I’m addressing is different. The levelling-down objection also applies here.) Given a situation in which half have 100 and half have 200, before any alternatives are presented, they first propose a change in which all have 100. Whether that’s better or worse than the status quo aside, it’s definitely better for all to have 200, and I’m saying that that is the more appropriate change to propose.


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