STOP Framing "us"

How a select few of "them" are Framing all of "us"

Archive for the category “Framing”

Scott Winship and Paul Ryan know better than you! Their “solution” to poverty…Voucherize it!

In order to change the growing awareness among the general population that the GOP is too extreme and doesn’t care about people, Paul Ryan is attempting to alter this perception and enhance the GOP’s image by pretending to “solve” the issue of poverty.  Naturally, his first step is to seek the assistance from right-wing think tanks.  In this case, Paul Ryan is recruiting the assistance of Scott Winship, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, who focuses on issues of income inequality and economic mobility.

In a recent interview, Scott Winship was asked how concerned he was with the disparity between the top 1% and everyone else.  Although he acknowledged that income inequality is real, he stated, “the evidence does not make me nervous that it’s a problem.”  He went on to say, “if you look at inequality between 1950 and today, it’s been not nearly so severe as between 1980 and today.”  This is correct, but he failed to explain why income inequality has been so severe since 1980.  In order to gain an accurate understanding of why income inequality (or lack of equality of opportunity) is a problem, it is essential to compare each of these time periods rather than lump them together in an attempt to distract people from realizing the truth.

There is a stark difference in how income gains in this country were distributed between those at the top and everyone else during these two time periods, which clearly impacted one’s ability to climb the economic ladder (ie., economic mobility).  As indicated in this interactive graph from the Economic Policy Institute, from 1950 to 1980 the bottom 90% of workers collectively shared two thirds of all income gains, while the top 10% took in the remaining third.  What about the period from 1980 to 2008?  As it turns out, the bottom 90% collectively shared only 2%, while the super rich, or top 1% took in two-thirds of all income gains!  This is the same percentage the bottom 90% previously shared when equality of opportunity was alive and well.

With so little income being available to the vast majority of workers in this country since 1980, no wonder the American dream is dead.  The rungs on the ladder of economic mobility have been deliberately broken over time to the point that most of the rungs are now completely missing!  Scott Winship even acknowledges as much by citing a statistic showing that if you happen to be born in the bottom fifth, there’s a 40% chance you will end up there as an adult, and only a 13% chance you can make it to the top two fifths.  Despite this admission, however, he stated, “contrary to what the left says, the evidence doesn’t clearly indicate that mobility has declined over time.”  Of course it has, especially since there is only a 5% chance this same poor person can make it to the top fifth.

Perhaps the reason he is in such denial has to do with the stated mission of his employer, rather than dealing with the reality of the devastating effects income inequality has on the vast majority of Americans.  The Manhattan Institute is a tax exempt, right-wing think tank with the stated mission of developing and disseminating ideas that enhance “economic choice” and “individual responsibility”.

These two “frames” conveniently allow Scott Winship, Paul Ryan, and other conservative politicians to focus their attention and our tax dollars on blaming the victim, and hence search for solutions that address this framed version of reality.  For instance, during the interview, Scott Winship was asked, “what policy ideas have you been considering with Paul Ryan?  His response was, “it’s really easy to reduce poverty if you just give cash to people but obviously, that causes people to work less.  It causes them to behave irresponsibly.”  That’s funny, because this is precisely what has happened in the opposite direction since Ronald Reagan took office in 1980 (e.g., welfare for the rich).

Scott Winship made it a point to mention that it’s necessary to raise taxes on the middle class in order to address poverty in this country, since he claims, “you can’t do what the left wants to do and continue to think that tax increases on the rich are going to get you there.” But, this is exactly how we got there in the past, as echoed by President Obama in a speech he gave recently, and is key to how we get there in the future.  It starts with reversing the devastating trend that has taken place since 1980, which involves giving cash to the super-rich (ie, tax cuts) at the expense of everyone else.  It’s important to point out that the main difference between the two periods mentioned earlier involves the tax rate on the top 1%.  In 1980, huge tax cuts were put in place by Ronald Reagan, dropping the tax rate on the top 1% from 70% to 28%, while doubling the tax rate on the vast majority of workers in order to pay for it.  This transfer of wealth has continued to the present day, such that in 2010, 93% of all income gains went to the top 1%.  This is truly startling and explains why the U.S. is no longer a country with equality of opportunity (ie., economic mobility), and instead is quickly becoming a third world country with escalating poverty rates, and accompanying social-ills.

What is Scott Winship’s advice to the GOP for resolving such issues?  Instead of increasing aid to those in desperate need as a result of this transfer of wealth, Scott Winship is embracing the Paul Ryan plan to drastically cut aid to the poor, voucherize medicare, cut social security benefits, increase the retirement age to 70, as well as cutting benefits to surviving spouses, and disabled children and veterans.  This key Scott Winship said, will be coming up with incentives “that are consistent with conservative values about personal responsibility and smaller government”.   Therefore, when viewed through the lens of these “frames”, it is impossible to see how immoral one’s actions have become.  Since Paul Ryan and Scott Winship are clearly operating under these frames, they are stuck trying to convince us that poor people are “irresponsible” and somehow to blame for their own poverty, rather than ‘seeing’ the reality that only 2% of income gains were available to share among 90% of the working population.  Unfortunately, this math makes it impossible for the average worker to make it to the top regardless of how hard one is willing to work, especially if they are born into poverty.

Rather than focusing their attention on increasing equality of opportunity for all, Scott Winship and Paul Ryan believe that providing people in desperate need with vouchers will not only magically “solve” our poverty epidemic, but it will make parents take “personal responsibility” by allowing them the “economic choice” of spending a limited sum (ie., voucher) that will run out in place of guaranteed assistance.  So, rather than rely on existing anti-poverty measures that are proven to be effective at reducing poverty, and leveling the playing field with progressive tax policies that will surely increase one’s chances of achieving the American dream, the GOP plan is to provide poor people with vouchers, since this approach fits the “frames” of the Manhattan Institute, and the GOP’s immoral approach to governing.

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Why Good People do Bad Things: The Power of Names, Frames and Personality Factors

A recent article in the Business Insider, 27 psychological reasons good people do bad things, illustrates many of the common unethical behaviors experienced by people in our society.  Most people are familiar with the acceptance of small theft (#6) in the workplace, for instance, or the pressure to conform (#27) whenever attempting to ‘fit in’ to an existing peer group.  Others, such as obedience to authority (#12), foot in the door (#16), and the blinding effect of power (#13) tell a somewhat different story.  These psychological characteristics appear to stem from something other than minor unethical hiccups, and may have their root in personality factors, as discussed below.

Knowing these psychological tendencies exist may be useful fun facts to discuss at parties or other social gatherings, but they don’t tell us what we really want to know.  What about deliberate attempts to influence people to (unknowingly) act in an unethical manor, or take an immoral stance on an issue?  Does this happen? If so, who is more susceptible and why?  The power of names (#2) provides some initial insight into answering these questions.

2.  The power of names.  When bribery becomes “greasing the wheels” or accounting fraud becomes “financial engineering,” unethical behavior can seem less bad. The use of nicknames and euphemisms for questionable practices can free them of their moral connotations, making
them seem more acceptable
.

The power of names reveals the use of language can literally change the meaning of something, thus leading one to an immoral choice in behavior.  Beyond nicknames and euphemisms is a more sophisticated technique, known as framing.  In a nutshell, framing involves the deceptive use of language to convince others to support immoral choices.  A “frame” has the ability to not only change the meaning of something, but to literally alter one’s perception of reality.  Unfortunately, far too many people fall victim to the powerful effects of framing, and end up taking stances on issues contrary to their own beliefs! Take the “clear skies” initiative, introduced by GOP politicians under the Bush administration.  The so called “clear skies” plan, “would loosen Clean Air Act standards for most of the nation’s power companies. And it has taken the pressure off companies that violate the law, cutting inspections staff and reducing Fines and criminal charges against polluters.”

Basically, this law allows more harmful and toxic chemicals to be dumped into the atmosphere, polluting our lungs and the air we breathe.  I’m confident no one would knowingly believe this is a good thing, much less openly support such a position when provided the chance to voice their opinion at the polls.  Hence, a frame is intentionally crafted that serves the purpose of convincing people to vote in favor of a policy position that is actually detrimental to their health and well being.  Those on the left side of the political spectrum refer to this phenomenon as “voting against one’s self-interest.”

Now that we know framing occurs, who is responsible, and what motivates an individual or group of people to manipulate others in such a fashion?  The obvious answer is money, but in this case it’s much scarier than that.  The use of framing (ie, deceptive language) has been used recently in politics to advance an ideology that is consistent with the special interests of the ruling elite in this country.  This immoral behavior is being carried out by unethical pollsters and politicians in Washington, who happen to share a similar disposition, known as the authoritarian personality.

Shortly after the atrocities that took place in Nazi Germany, researchers in the field of psychology attempted to understand what led people to openly display such hideous behavior under fascist rule, including increased levels of anti-Semitism and prejudice against the “other.”  The result of this endeavor was a personality syndrome labeled, the authoritarian personality, which was later turned into a book under the same title, written by Adorno, et al. (1950).   Adorno and colleagues discovered that this personality syndrome was characterized by pro-fascist, antidemocratic attitudes, coupled with complete submission to authority figures.

Modern day polls can also be traced to this time period.  Due to the stranglehold widespread propaganda had on certain elements of the population, and the ease at which the repetition of lies led to blind submission to fascist authority, Gallup and others developed polling techniques to assess public perception.  Today, these techniques are being used by unethical pollsters like Frank Luntz, who craft frames, poll test the language, and focus group approve the final product for use by right wing authoritarian (RWA) politicians, and other true believers to manipulate public perception in favor of this authoritarian ideology.

Right wing authoritarian (RWA) is a personality and ideological variable studied in political, social, and personality psychology. Right-wing authoritarians are people who have a degree of willingness to submit to authorities they perceive as established and legitimate, who adhere to social conventions and norms, and who are hostile and punitive in their attitudes towards people who don’t adhere to them.  They value uniformity and are in favour of using group authority, including coercion, to achieve it.”

“Authoritarians are generally more favorable to punishment and control than personal freedom and diversity…they are more likely to advocate strict, punitive sentences for criminals, and report that punishing such people is satisfying for them.  They tend to be ethnocentric and prejudiced against racial and ethnic minorities and homosexuals.

History has already proven what is capable of happening when RWA’s are in positions of power, but what many people may not be aware of is that the modern day GOP are right-wing authoritarians!  Simply take a look at the 2012 GOP party platform.  Many of the personality characteristics mentioned above can be seen in the actions taken by GOP lawmakers.  For a glimpse of how this ideological agenda is being carried out, let’s take a look at a couple of examples.

Radical right wing governors across the country are actively implementing laws to discriminate against minority groups by suppressing their right to vote in the upcoming presidential election.  To get people on board with this radical agenda, the frame “voter fraud” was created.

GOP politicians are passing laws to ship our jobs overseas.  The frame used in this case is “illegal immigrants” are taking our jobs.

GOP politicians are passing laws that force us to work for less, and take away our rights to fight back when our wages and pensions are raided by vulture capitalists like Mitt Romney.  This is being framed as “right to work.”

GOP politicians are implementing laws to control women’s reproductive health, framed as “religious freedom.”

GOP politicians are spending taxpayer money to enrich the super wealthy elite, framed as “tax relief.”  Coincidentally, the funneling of taxpayer money to the richest among us is being framed as using taxpayer money to give to “welfare recipients.”

Perhaps even scarier than the GOP taking total control of our government and convincing people with clever framing to vote against their own interests and well being, is the very future of our planet if these RWA’s continue to gain momentum and firmly implement their dangerous ideology.

“In roleplaying situations, authoritarians tend to seek dominance over others by being competitive and destructive instead of cooperative. In a study by Altemeyer, 68 authoritarians played a three hour simulation of the Earth’s future entitled the Global change game. Unlike a comparison game played by individuals with low RWA scores, which resulted in world peace and widespread international cooperation, the simulation by authoritarians became highly militarized and eventually entered the stage of nuclear war. By the end of the high RWA game, the entire population of the earth was declared dead.[15]

The George Orwell Party (GOP) is Stripping Away Our Right to Vote, While Pretending to Solve a Make Believe Problem!

Voting is fundamental to our democracy.  It enables each citizen to have a say in how our nation should be governed. We have faith in this process, and expect those we elect to represent us to stand up for our interests on a variety of issues that directly impact our lives.  We all want to be happy and healthy.  We all want clean air to breathe, safe food to eat, and non-contaminated water to drink.  We all want a proper education for our children, someone to keep us safe from harm, and an equal opportunity to prosper in life.

However, since our founding, the very voting rights that enable us to have a say in how we are governed were not always a given. Voting rights in the United States were strictly limited to the privileged class when this country was founded.

“In most states, only white men with property were permitted to vote (freed African Americans could vote in four states). White working men, almost all women, and all other people of color were denied the franchise. At the time of the American Civil War, most white men were allowed to vote, whether or not they owned property, but literacy tests, poll taxes, and even religious tests were used in various places, and most white women, people of color, and Native Americans still could not vote.”

Ever since these voting rights were successfully won for poor whites, blacks and women, the Republican Party has adamantly fought to disenfranchise and suppress these voters, who tend to vote Democratic.

Instead of encouraging the right to vote for all citizens in this country, as seen in other nations like Australia, where the voter turn-out is greater than 90%, our Republican politicians are busy devising strategies to take away the right to vote for certain populations.  Today, those populations are the poor, minorities, the elderly, and the younger generation.

I’m afraid that this is what the GOP means when they say they want to “take this country back.”  They want to take it back to an era where only a select few privileged folks get to determine what happens to the rest of us.  Perhaps, if we encouraged active participation in our democracy by modeling nations with a proven track record in near full voter participation in the democratic process, then we wouldn’t need to waste time focusing on make believe attempts of people trying to vote more than once at the polls.

There is absolutely no evidence supporting the GOP claim that individuals are engaging in some type of purposeful act of misrepresenting who they are come election time. In fact, according to an article in think progress, “In the wake of the 2010 elections, numerous GOPcontrolled states have adopted so-called “voter ID” laws to target the entirely fabricated problem of in-person voter fraud. Such voter fraud is so uncommon that a voter is 39 times more likely to be struck by lightning than to actually commit fraud at the polls.”

Despite reality, this does not stop Republican politicians from pretending there is a problem.  This is what the GOP, or the new party of the pretenders does.  They hire unethical pollsters and language manipulators like Frank Luntz, who poll tests and focus group approves language that is proven to resonate with those on the left, right and most importantly, independent voters.  Let’s face it.  No one likes “voter fraud.”  No one likes “illegal immigrants.”  Everyone likes “fair elections.”  This is the type of language Frank Luntz consistently arms the party of the pretenders with to manipulate public opinion in favor of supporting an ideological agenda that serves to do the very opposite of what they pretend to be in favor of.

One such pretender went as far as writing a letter to the attorney general, Eric Holder taking this make believe idea to a whole new level by insisting that this type of behavior is occurring.  In his letter, Congressman Rooney (R-Fl) stated, “Florida has uncovered a widespread problem of illegal and erroneous voter registration, exposing as many as 182,000 registered voters as non-U.S. citizens.”

This outright blatant distortion of reality goes hand in hand with the attempts of the radical right wing governor Rick Scott to suppress the vote of 182,000 poor folks, elderly and young-adult citizens, who are inclined to vote Democratic.

Part of the GOP strategy to advance their ideological agenda is to evoke the appropriate language that resonates with the left, right and center every time they are faced with a question on an issue central to their vision for America.  In this particular case of voter suppression, that language is voter fraud, and fair elections.  As reported by the Miami Herald, when questioned about his decision to engage in voter suppression, Rick Scott not only tried to place blame on the Obama administration for his decision (GOP strategy 101), but consistently evoked the frames mentioned above by saying, “We need to have fair elections. When you vote, you want to make sure that the other individuals that are voting have a right to vote. That’s what I care about.”

This is the party of the pretenders in action.  They pretend to want fair elections and protect our right to vote, among other rights and freedoms, when all they are really concerned with is doing the opposite by taking them away from us.  Pretending to be in favor of what matters to us is an effective strategy of advancing an agenda that actually requires the denial of our rights, freedoms and protections under the law.

The Solyndra Frame Exposed! How Mitt Romney and the GOP are Framing reality.

In a speech given last Thursday, Mitt Romney broke out the GOP Solyndra frame once again, but this time while standing in front of the now vacant plant in Freemont, California.  His of way of giving people a visual image to go with the framing, perhaps.  In a nutshell, the Solyndra frame involves the literal framing of President Obama for actions that both former President Bush and the ‘wannabe’ president Mitt Romney are guilty of committing, such as giving taxpayer money to wealthy donor friends (ie, Bush tax cuts) and engaging in ‘crony capitalism’ or Mitt Romney’s specialty (ie, vulture capitalism). This type of immoral behavior regularly practiced under the Bush administration and characteristic of Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital days were projected onto President Obama during this brief speech.

The very first question asked after three solid minutes of misinforming the public was, “In 2005, President Bush signed the energy policy act that created the government loan guarantee (ie, putting taxpayers on the hook when companies fail) doesn’t he get the blame for this?”

Instead of answering the question, which is based on facts, Mitt Romney continued framing this issue by deflecting attention away from who is truly responsible by making it appear as if President Obama was to blame for the failure of this single company. The untold reality is that the circumstances that led to the use of $535 million dollars of taxpayer money (a mere 1.3% of all loan guarantee amounts) was implemented by former President Bush, hurried along by GOP politicians, and backed by the super-wealthy Walton family, who have donated millions to GOP politicians over the years.

As reported by Stephen Lacey and Richard Caperton, It’s often claimed that the Solyndra loan guarantee was “rushed through” by the Obama administration for political reasons” In fact, the Solyndra loan guarantee was a multi-year process that the Bush administration launched in 2007.”  They go on to note that “Rather than “pushing funds out the door too quickly,” the Obama administration restructured the original loan when it came into office to further protect the taxpayers’ investment.”

This reporting is backed up by Politifact, who noted, “The Energy Department’s loan guarantee program was created as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, passed by a Republican-controlled Congress and signed by Bush.”
 To make matters worse, President Bush touted the bill as a success at the time, while using many positive sounding words to provide the illusion of responsible governing.

President Bush: “This bill will strengthen our economy and it will improve our environment, and it’s going to make this country more secure. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 is going to help every American who drives to work, every family that pays a power bill, and every small business owner hoping to expand.” What President Bush failed to tell the American people is that this positive sounding language is an intentional act of deception that conceals the GOP’s true intentions of minimizing the risk made by wealthy investors who donate to his campaign, while maximizing the risk to unsuspecting taxpayers. This two-faced political strategy of the GOP involves taking credit for initiatives they frame as strengthening our economy and helping Americans, while blaming the opposition for any market failures that occur as a result of gambling with our tax dollars.

This win-win strategy is a product of the memo Frank “The Liar” Luntz crafted with the former speaker of the House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich, in the mid 1990’s, called Language: A Key Mechanism of Control.  Ever since then, the GOP began using positive sounding language when describing any social, economic or political position advocated by the GOP, regardless of any immoral or devastating consequences to the public, while simultaneously using negative sounding language when describing any social, economic or political position in opposition to their ideological agenda.

So, when Mitt Romney breaks out the Solyndra frame and says that “It’s a symbol not of success but of failure, and that “the president was taking money from the taxpayer to give freely to his friends”, he is partially correct.  It just so happens the serious conflict of interest and the decision to line the pockets of wealthy donors was a result of the immoral actions committed by Bush, not President Obama. This is what the modern day George Orwell Party (GOP) does.  They literally frame the opposition for actions they are guilty of committing.

When the market fails, or when the immoral and reckless behavior of a select few causes catastrophic conditions for the rest of us, people like Mitt Romney and other corrupt politicians step in and use it to their political advantage by framing the issue, and focus media attention and blame on the very people who are trying to protect the public from the abuses of crony capitalism.

Scott Walker and his Billionaire Buddies are Framing us!

Thanks to a loophole in Wisconsin state law, Governor Scott Walker is able to raise unlimited amounts of money from out of state donors in order to bombard Wisconsin voters with a massive misinformation campaign.  Billionaires like the Koch brothers and other special interest groups, such as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) have contributed to over two-thirds of the $25 million dollars Scott Walker has raised in order to spread misinformation about the Governor’s plan to inflict austerity on Wisconsin workers.

The consequences of Scott Walkers’ proposed austerity plan are already being felt, and have led to an overwhelming pushback from those who realize the harm he is trying to inflict on workers in Wisconsin.  Fortunately, a recall effort has been launched with the goal of removing this radical Governor from his position of authority and to to prevent the forced austerity measures that have already contributed to the worst jobs record in the nation.  Since taking office, Governor Scott Walker’s failed austerity plan, currently being embraced on a national scale by Paul Ryan and the rest of the GOP, has led to the most job losses anywhere in the country.  Under Scott Walker’s watch, over 30,000 jobs have been lost in Wisconsin.

This is where the misinformation and framing comes into play.  Scott Walker’s abysmal record of 30,000 job losses is being spun by countless television ads, Fox news appearances, and backing by billionaires to conceal this reality in favor of misinformation that frames Scott Walker as a job-creator, as opposed to a job-cremator.  In this fictional framed version of reality created by billionaires like the Koch brothers, Scott Walker is portrayed as protecting working Americans, and somehow having added the same amount of jobs he actually destroyed.

Another tried and true method used in the billionaire-backed war on workers is to “frame” harmful legislation that will strip away people’s rights as laws that will supposedly protect people from abuses of power.  This “right to work” law being advocated by radical right-wing Governors across the country is purposely designed to fit that frame. In reality, this law will force people to work-for-less and strip away their rights to fight back (ie, collectively bargain) once this occurs.

The National Right to Work Committee, another right wing group backed by ALEC, recently cited a single question from an 18-page survey conducted by Frank “The Liar” Luntz as proof that union workers support “right to work” legislation.  For those who are unaware, Frank Luntz is the consultant/pollster who specializes in the creation and use of deceptive language to convince the general public to vote against their well being by supporting bad legislation.  “Here is the question Luntz’ pollsters asked union members across the country…”

Please tell me whether you strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree or strongly disagree with the following statement: “Workers should have the right to decide whether to join a union. They should never be forced or coerced to join or pay dues to a union as a condition of employment.”  Responses to this single survey question was offered as proof that 80% of union members agree that right-to-work is the best policy.

Wait a minute.  Notice the obvious deception in trying to convince us that “right to work” literally means forcing someone to join a union.  This question is framed in such a way as to practically guarantee the desired response.  Responses are then used to justify implementation of radical legislation that destroys the very rights and freedoms the GOP claims to be protecting.  It is important to note that this survey by Frank “The Liar” Luntz was commissioned by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, whose motto is “Defending America’s workers from the abuses of compulsory unionism since 1968.” With a slogan like this, no wonder they commissioned a professional liar to make sure their biased “facts” fit the frame.

This “right to work” frame will be endlessly repeated via the right wing echo chamber, just like Scott Walker’s abysmal jobs record, to ensure that as many people in Wisconsin as possible hear this distorted version of reality which suits the needs of special interests and billionaires.  If repeated often enough, neuroscience research tells us that many Wisconsin voters will likely reject the facts in favor of the frame, since this is how framing works! For a glimpse of the disastrous effects that work-for-less laws actually have in states where framing efforts were successful, take a look at the research conducted by the Economic Policy Institute.

What priorities are being set for our nation? Are they the same priorities you would choose?

The GOP constantly cries over the debt limit and evokes the “spending problem” in Washington “frame” every time our Democratic representatives seek to place a priority on human needs. Paying for human needs with the common wealth we all contribute to helps sustain an America that works together.  Unfortunately, some of us are unable to contribute to the common wealth due to disease or an unfortunate disability, as well as those who have retired after working their entire lives, who become eligible to receive the earned benefits they contributed to during their most productive years.

We show empathy and care for these individuals by coming together as one nation to provide the essential services necessary to support their needs. Without the common wealth these people would not be protected, much like the millions of Americans currently living in poverty and the many Americans who die each year as a result of not being able to afford health coverage for their families.  Paying for human needs is essential for our nation to continue to be strong, along with investments in education, science and technology, and caring for our veteran population that bravely serve our country.  These priorities are reflected in the budget and tax policies our elected representatives advocate for and pass.

What are our national priorities?

Take a look at this chart from the National Priorities Project and consider what priorities you think we should adopt for our nation, and compare that to what our nations priorities actually are at this moment.

When our elected representatives decide to place a priority on spending the common wealth as can be seen in the chart above, we are sending the message to our friends, family members, and neighbors alike that we don’t care about the suffering of others.  We don’t care about education for our children.  We don’t care about investing in science and technology.  We don’t care about providing for those who are unable to provide for themselves.  We don’t care about our wounded soldiers who return from war.  When we enact immoral budget and tax policies that exclude the needs of the people, and ignore making crucial investments in our future, we not only increase the burden being placed on our families and communities, but we also send the message to other nations that we don’t care about each other.  It appears the one thing we do care about is increased military spending.  As indicated in this chart, we are spending the lion’s share of our tax dollars on military spending, at the expense of other social programs that provide for the needs of our citizens.

Even if we were to accept the frame put out there by pollsters working for the GOP regarding our “spending problem” in Washington, then we should at least be curious as to how that money is being spent.  If it is acceptable to spend nearly 60% of our discretionary spending on the military, then why not shift our priorities, and start focusing on the needs of our citizens, instead of using our tax dollars (ie, the common wealth) to build an empire around the globe, bomb and destroy communities abroad, and create more enemies in the process. We didn’t always spend this much on our military.  Even at the height of World War II, we spent a fraction of the cost we are spending today. The increase in military spending has more than doubled under former President George W. Bush’s watch to the point that we are now spending more money on our military than the rest of the world combined!

For the most part, the increased spending on the military was used to enrich shareholders of Haliburton and it’s subsidiaries (Dick Cheney’s former company) who received no bid contracts courtesy of Dick Cheney and former President Bush’s effective use of our Government to suppress competition. Rather than being used to keep us safe and protect us, which is the language the GOP repeatedly runs with when discussing increased military spending, Bush and Co. effectively used the power of the federal government to suppress competition and enrich fellow members of the privileged sector. This by the way is a textbook example of what the GOP’s frame of “picking winners and losers” is all about.  Just like the “spending problem” in Washington frame, also referred to as the fictitious “tax and spend” Liberal, the “picking winners and losers” frame was purposely crafted to be repeated endlessly when facing any opposition to the GOP’s efforts to place a priority on corporate greed over human needs.

The National priorities project is an excellent resource for showing us what we could experience in this country if we simply shift our priorities.  For example, instead of spending $22,000 per second to create enemies abroad, we could hire thousands of teachers, firefighters, and police officers, not to mention jump-start this economy by getting ahead of our national competitors in the development of clean, safe, fuels of the future like wind and solar power that will never run out, as opposed to focusing on dirty, unsafe fuels of the past that are polluting our planet and lungs, not to mention the devastating effects it will have on our economy when they do run out. This will finally eliminate (not just reduce) our dependence on foreign oil, increase our national security, and provide the desperately needed economic stimulus to get us back on track and working together as one nation.

Ultimately, the spending issue frame boils down to placing a priority on protecting and enriching the privileged in this country, (GOP led priorities) or protecting human needs and providing an equal opportunity for every citizen to pursue life, liberty and happiness by coming together in support of human needs over corporate greed (Democratic priorities).

Paul Krugman on why President Obama may lose the election! It’s all about firmly communicating their values.

Nobel-prize winning economist, Paul Krugman recently criticized the communication strategy of President Obama’s team in a recent TPM article.   According to Paul Krugman, “There may not be much President Obama can do to improve the economy between now and the election, but telling a clear story about why it remains weak could mean the difference between victory and defeat this November.”

The moral of this story, and Krugman’s take on this issue is that we should not be afraid to speak out about the value and role of our Government to help us out of the economic disaster the Republican Party created for all of us by their strict focus on enriching those in the ‘privileged sector’.

Perhaps, the President’s communication strategy should revolve around the fact that the public protection policies, and other Democratic tax and budget proposals serve to protect all Americans and prevent those in the right wing from harming the rest of us with their immoral vision for America.  As noted by Paul Krugman, “What they should be saying is, ‘We have the right ideas and we’re pursuing them as far as we can given the opposition from Republicans,’ which would be more or less the true narrative.”

Therefore, Democratic legislators, political pundits, and the President’s team should join together in reminding people daily that the ‘Great Depression’ was a result of Wall Street greed, much like it this culture of corruption on Wall Street was responsible for the near global financial meltdown that sparked the current depression we are now in.

We should remind people that Government led the way out of the depression through stimulus spending, and more stimulus spending, not less is needed to get us out of this one.  Paul Krugman agrees, and unfortunately, he points out that the President’s team “never conceded that that first stimulus was too small, or that there really should have been a second round of stimulus.

As a remedy to this, we should remind people that Roosevelt’s New Deal enabled the birth of the middle class in this country, which led to the ‘golden age of capitalism’ where everyone essentially shared in the wealth that we all helped to create.  Similarly, Krugman notes that we should reverse the “state layoffs of teachers, firefighters and other employees, and then ideally with a New Deal-style public works push to rebuild American infrastructure by putting the unemployed to work.”

These are sound policy decisions that were once made and openly communicated to the public.  Everyone at the time understood the value and place of Government in their lives.  It was understood that Government was highly capable of, and directly responsible for vastly improving the living conditions for individuals, families and communities alike.

It was this focus on America working together and sharing in the prosperity we all helped to create that made this nation the beacon of the world.  We shouldn’t be afraid to tell this story, and we certainly shouldn’t be fooled by attempts to paint Government as a failure, when clearly Government once led the way!

Most importantly, we should remind people that all of the progress that was made over the years, such as the expansion of real freedoms, such as civil rights and voting rights for both African Americans and women, along with environmental protections of the air we breathe and water we drink are now being systematically replaced with immoral budget policies that amount to a war on women and the middle class, so a few at the top can continue to stroll down a path to prosperity that is paved by a path to poverty for the rest of us.

The public protection laws, along with the progressive taxation and budget policies that led to the greatest time period in our nations history were based on the principle of the common good, where we all have a stake in what we help to create, and we all pay into this system to ensure the freedom of opportunity and prosperity for all that comes with it.  This vision was based on the values of fairness, equality of  opportunity, and freedom for all!

Why are we shying away from the policies that once worked?  It’s time to start communicating the value and role of Government in being able to re-create these circumstances today, and let the people know that if we work together, we can all help to create the golden age of capitalism part II.

How the American Spring is being “framed” by the true radicals on the right! A glimpse into what is really happening as opposed to how this issue is being framed.

Today marks the beginning of the American Spring.  The well needed continuation of the Occupy Wall Street movement that is alive and well!  As can be seen in the clip below, legal, non-violent occupy protests are being thwarted by police officers (following orders) to crush dissent, and hamper our ability to speak out against those at the top, who are literally tearing our social fabric apart with policies that perpetuate the status quo of income inequality.

As pointed out in this clip, our elected officials are currently enacting laws with broad language that enables the arrest and prosecution of protesters easier, not to mention blatant violations of our civil liberties and right to free speech.

“Only 3 elected officials voted against expanding federal restrictions on protests.  While U.S. leader can’t resolve issues like national debt and homelessness, they are all on the same page when it comes to how to handle all those citizens flooding the streets to demand change and accountability.”

So, as things get worse for all of “us”, our elected officials continue to bow down to a select few of “them” by enacting laws that effectively silence any dissent by ‘we the people’ who are trying to speak out against the status quo of income inequality that is dividing this country.  America works together!  Perhaps, we should remind our elected officials of this simple truth.

The clear violation of our first amendment rights, combined with the fact that our elected leaders are enacting legislation to silence any form of dissent, provides more than enough evidence of the need to continue occupying until our voices are not only heard, but valued in such a way as to lead to more meaningful change and greater equality for everyone now!

Here is another short clip summarizing the need for an American Spring in this country.  It hardly resembles the framed version of reality Glenn Beck is trying to convince his viewers of with his fear based rhetoric. (see below)

For a glimpse of how Glenn Beck is framing this issue, take a look at the clip below.  His strategy is very simple, SCARE PEOPLE!

Here are some of the more interesting fear based quotes from this video clip.

“The best case scenario at an occupy event is vandalism.  There’s rapes, there’s assaults, there’s murders, there’s threats, there’s death’s, there’s thefts, there’s calls for anarchy and overthrowing the government and revolution.”

“The people flaming these fires are evil, and they don’t think like you and me.  They are trying to start a fight, and the worst thing we can do is swing back. DO NOT swing back”

“Most people don’t even know what the occupy Wall Street movement really is because the media is ignorant, lazy or compliant”

“You haven’t seen anything.  Please understand this is going to get very violent in the end.”

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