To the editor:
Tom Shewmon’s letter (Journal-World, Sept. 3) asks if we are enjoying the new direction of the current administration. He attempts to illustrate that direction with one case: the EPA hobbling the coal industry with new rules and regulations without specifying what those rules are and the impact they might have. From this, he concludes that this administration would like to rule and regulate everything we do. This is nothing more than the fallacy of hasty generalization, which is, “Someone wishes to pass regulations and therefore they wish to control our lives completely.” Signs forbidding us to spit on the sidewalk are not from some administrative beast breathing down our necks, unless you have a paranoid view of politics.
The other element of his letter is juvenile name-calling: extreme left, radical, far-left zealots. He’s setting up a straw man to tag with sins, real or imagined, that he can then associate with the administration. It is the fallacy of guilt by association.
America needed railroads and the robber barons did, among other things, manage to provide them. Is this the capitalist model Shewmon proposes? It sounds more like a schoolboy’s wild West of cowboys and Indians or the world of hard-boiled detective novelists where man is wolf to man. Those are devastating models of total exploitation that are shockingly ill-informed. These models sometimes create fabulous wealth for a few but more often they create conflicts that avoid convincing insight and difficult analysis. Perhaps that works for Shewmon.