All slopes are slippery

When the topic of change comes up, a common argument against potentially reasonable change is, “Well, that’s a slippery slope.”

One example of this is income sharing agreements offered by companies like Lambda School. You pay no tuition upfront, then you pay the school back with 17% of your income if you make over $50,000, for a maximum of 24 months or $30,000 (see the link above for more details). “Well,” some people say, “that’s a slippery slope to indentured servitude.” But… isn’t it better than $30,000 of traditional debt?

Another example might be the wealth tax proposed by Elizabeth Warren. It’s a tax of 2% per year on wealth over $50 million. Again, many people invoke the specter of a “slippery slope”, calling the wealth tax theft and suggesting that it may eventually lead to much greater confiscations of assets (e.g., higher percentages or a lower starting point). I’m actually quite resistant to the idea of a wealth tax, and I’m pretty sure it’s the best way to deal with economic inequality, but it’s a reasonable topic to discuss, and the fact that the parameters could change in the future doesn’t mean the idea shouldn’t be discussed on its merits.

There are many, many other areas where the slippery slope argument comes up. Maybe it’s an effective political tactic to bring up the possibility of slippery slopes, but it seems intellectually (and maybe even morally?) lazy.

Just because you think something is bad when taken to the extreme doesn’t mean that there isn’t a point on the slope that is reasonable.

If we stay away from any slope that looks slippery, we’ll end up like this.

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