Rich and Poor

The arguments from wealth and from poverty are two subspecies of the argument from authority. Special weight can be given to the word of the wealthy — because wealthy, as well as to that of the poor — because poor. The Rich and the Poor are then believed on their word, and their words are exploited as an argument from authority by a speaker, who validates a position by putting it in the mouth of a rich or a poor man, S. Authority; Common place. Both arguments are extremely common and equally formidable.

Argument of wealth, or “top people” argument

The argument from wealth is the substrate of a family of discourses elaborating upon the key topic:

She is rich, therefore what she says is true; I consider her advice to be authoritative; she made the best financial decision; she has an extraordinary artistic taste, as proved by the value of her collections — I vote for her!

This argument easily extends from the rich to the upper classes and the ruling class, the most glamorous and lucrative professions, etc. It could be called “the top people” argument.

Argument of poverty: appeal to “people down there”

The argument of poverty is symmetrical to the argument of wealth. It validates a speech by the authority derived from poverty, “the poor are right”:

The poor are good, because they who have no money, and who has no money has no vice; they are not corrupt; what they say is authentic; they are the repositories of common sense; their opinions are basically sound.

As the argument of wealth, the argument of poverty extends beyond the poor to all “the people down there”, that is the exploited proletariat, the dominated, the lower 10%… as well as to country people, who live close to nature (naturalistic argument), or to the tramp as a wise philosopher … Truth comes out from their mouths, as it comes from the children’s mouth.

The adage vox populi vox dei, “the voice of the people is the voice of God”, which underlies the ad populum argument, is grounded in the argument of poverty and in that of number.

These arguments are different from the appeal to money, or the wallet argument, attached to the argumentation by punishment and reward, S. Threat and Promise.