STOP Framing "us"

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

Archive for the tag “class warfare”

The “Slush fund” frame: Cover for the GOP efforts to raid the Public health and cancer prevention fund in order to transfer it up to the ‘privileged’ in America.

What John Boehner and the rest of the GOP are calling a “Slush fund” is the Public health and prevention fund that provides critical health services that all Americans depend on, especially women. The GOP is actively trying to convince the rest of us that we should be in favor of supporting an immoral bill that would eliminate 600,000 cancer prevention screenings for women across the country in order to prevent the student loan interest rates from doubling for college students. This stands in direct contrast to what Democrats are proposing, which is to simply end the taxpayer funded subsidies the oil industry receives. As it stands, the student loan interest rates are scheduled to double from 3.4% to 6.8% on July 1, 2012, and so our elected representatives are faced with a moral choice.

This issue is fundamentally about the priorities we hold as a nation, and involves the choices our elected leaders make about what we value in America.  Do we value the health of women in this country?  If given the chance, would we choose to prevent our wives, mothers and daughters from getting cancer?  Or, do we value profit over people?  Do we value protecting the privileged in this country by placing a higher priority on oil subsidies for billionaires like the Koch brothers rather than preventing women from getting cancer?

Unfortunately, the choice that an overwhelming majority of conservatives in the House of Representatives made when faced with this choice was to continue protecting oil subsidies for people like the Koch brothers.  After all, the Koch brothers were born privileged, and believe they are ‘entitled’ to free money from all of us, so their children can be born privileged too.

Why did the GOP pass this bill?  The obvious reason is so they can continue protecting and enriching the ‘privileged’ members in society, who fund their re-election campaigns.  More importantly, however, the GOP passed this bill because it is in line with their ideological vision for America.  This vision involves the pursuit of one’s self-interest to the dismay of everyone and everything else, including the destruction of the environment.  To make matters worse, conservatives are making sure we continue to use taxpayer dollars to rely on dirty, unsafe fuels of the past, even at the expense of preventing women from getting cancer!

It’s obvious that no one would be in favor of denying potentially life saving screenings for women to prevent cancer.  This is morally wrong, and goes against the values we hold dear in this country.  This is exactly why the GOP created the “Slush fund” frame to make it appear that Democrats are being selfish and are engaging in corruptive practices in order to line the pockets of special interests.  When viewed through the lense of this frame, who is going to support the use of a “slush fund” for private gain?

The incredible irony here is that this is exactly what members of the GOP are guilty of doing.  The GOP is literally “framing” Democrats for their actions, since they are completely selfish and are engaging in corruptive practices in order to line the pockets of special interests.  The GOP “Slush fund” is enormous in scope and was set up to purposely transfer wealth from all of “us” to a select few of “them.”  This and other frames are being used to justify inflicting draconian budget cuts on all of us, while they laugh all the way to the banks that they own with their latest tax cut.

For a visual of what this transfer of wealth into the GOP “Slush fund” looks like, take a look below.

This is the what happens when we vote for conservative politicians in Washington. Our choice to vote for the GOP leads to a “path to prosperity” for the top 1% that is being paved by a path to poverty for the rest of us.

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Paul Ryan’s “Path to prosperity” for the upper class is being paved by a “path to poverty” for the rest of us.

Paul Ryan and members of the GOP recently released their budget plan for America.  They are referring to this plan as a “path to prosperity.”  What they really mean is a “path to poverty” for everyone who is not in the top 1%.  After all, in the land of George Orwell, the “path to prosperity” can only mean one thing, it’s opposite, or a “path to poverty.”

This “path to poverty”, or GOP inflected austerity, is destructive to the working poor and middle class in this country, since it transfers wealth from all of “us” to a select few of “them” primarily by eliminating our social safety net.   This is accomplished by taking away guaranteed benefits currently being provided to protect the most vulnerable among us, including the poor, sick, disabled, and elderly populations, in order to give guaranteed benefits to the wealthiest among us, by permanently extending the Bush tax cuts for instance, which will add trillions more to a deficit “they” continue to pile on the backs of everyone else.

The irony is that the George Orwell Party has already “framed” the issue of taking from one group to give to another in their often-repeated “transfer of wealth” frame.  The radical right wing constantly repeats this Orwellian frame to convince the rest of us that Liberal Democrats are somehow taking from the rich to give to the poor.  In reality, the Paul Ryan budget plan and the rest of the GOP is in favor of what you would call Robin Hood in reverse, since their agenda is all about taking from the poor and middle class in order to protect and enrich the upper class.

Interestingly, the GOP’s plan for the money that will be generated by making drastic cuts to vital services affecting the working poor and middle class, such as ending Medicare, and handing over the Social Security trust fund ($2.6 Trillion) to the Wall Street Casino, will not be used to pay down the deficit, but rather to further pave the “path to prosperity” for a select few.  In this sense, Paul Ryan and members of the GOP are not necessarily lying when they say their budget will create a “path to prosperity”, they just left out the part about who will prosper and at who’s expense.

In order to get people on board with taking away guaranteed benefits that have been enormously popular ever since they were first enacted to protect the people from the abuses of the “privileged sector” in the past, the GOP must hide their true intentions by using positive sounding language when describing their budget plan and vision for America, and negative sounding language when describing anything that conflicts with their agenda.  It really is that simple!

In line with the memo Newt Gingrich crafted with the help of Frank Luntz, the GOP is using language such as “save” and “strengthen” in relation to Social Security and Medicare to present the illusion of being in favor of these programs.  In reality, the GOP is adamantly opposed to our social safety net, and regularly refers to such programs that benefit disabled children, the elderly, and the working poor, as “entitlement programs” that should be eliminated.  So, why should we believe Paul Ryan or any other Republican politician in Washington who claim they are in favor of helping our senior citizens, disabled children, and those who are trying to survive on non-livable wages?  The short answer is that we shouldn’t.

 

The consequences of not having an equal distribution of wealth in the U.S., and what the Occupy Wall Street movement can do about it.

The level of income equality in this country has been in a reversing trend since Ronald Reagan’s presidency.  However, many people will not know this by listening to Fox news, or some other radical right-wing talk show host, including Glenn Beck, who had this to say on his blog.

This is Glenn Beck’s attempt to create further division among us by perpetuating the latest right-wing “frame”, which states that 47% of Americans pay no income taxes.  This of course, is another Orwellian frame designed to convince all of us to take out our anger and frustration on the poorest and most disabled among us.  After all, these are the people who make up the 47% Glenn Beck is referring to.

Instead of looking up at the upper class who are truly responsible for our economic hardship, this frame ensures we look down at the very victims of income inequality, and ignore the fact that we are currently experiencing the largest transfer of wealth in the history of this country from the working poor and middle class (all of “us”) to a select few in the upper class (“them”).

David Cay Johnston does a beautiful job of summing up what is really happening in this country, being led by those in the upper class, or the top .1%.

Although each of the 9 things David Cay Johnston discusses are enlightening, I would like to focus on #5, which states, “And (surprise!) since Reagan, only the wealthy have gained significant income”  This disheartening reality ties into what the Occupy Wall Street movement is all about, and why it is critical to understand there is a class war being waged against all of “us” (99%) by a select few of “them” (top .1%)

Now, why do I say the top .1% instead of the top 1%?  Well, this chart from the Economic Policy Institute says it all!

Between 1979 and 2005, households at the bottom fifth of the income scale have seen an average, inflation-adjusted income growth of just $200. Importantly, that does not represent an average annual increase in income of $200, but rather, an increase of $200 over the entire 26-year period. By contrast, a small number of households at the top 0.1% of the income scale saw average income growth of almost $6 million over that same period

Why is this important? Well, because the 26 year period prior to 1979 paints an entirely different picture.

“These latest patterns of extremely uneven income growth stand in stark contrast to the period between 1947 and 1973, when income growth was distributed roughly equally across income classes, with the poorest 20% of families seeing income growth at least as fast as the richest 20%.”

So, what does this mean to the average citizen?  Why should anyone care about the income inequality that is illustrated in this article, or by what David Cay Johnston has to say?

Here’s why –  Prior to the current trend that has taken place ever since Ronald Reagan took office, a significant portion of our citizens (1 in 3) held a high paying union job.  Everyone was doing well, including those at the very bottom.  During this time period, those in the bottom 20%, in terms of income distribution, saw their incomes grow at a pace equal to those in the top 20%.  As a result, 1 parent could work and earn enough to support the entire family.  People could afford to purchase a home, save for their children’s college fund, and retire with the comfort of knowing they were secure in their old age due to the pensions they were receiving.

Of equal importance, there was less poverty, crime, alcohol and drug abuse, imprisonment, obesity, teenage pregnancies, etc.  Why?  Because the more equal the distribution of income is in a society, the less social-ills seen in that society.  (See the about section of this blog).  Notice there is no Occupy Sweden movement taking place.

As a result of the increasing income inequality trend that has taken place over the past 30 years, our political system continues to favor the top .1% at the expense of the rest of us, not only in terms of our wages, benefits and pensions, but also in terms of the social-ills mentioned above.

The only chance we have to reverse this devastating trend is if the Occupy Wall Street movement is successful, and we go back to a time when all segments of the population grow at an equal rate.  After all, an equal distribution of income is what enabled the creation of the ‘middle class’, which is now being systematically destroyed.

Bottom line:  Income inequality is the problem, and income equality is the solution.  In my opinion, income equality ought to be the primary focus of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Jon Stewart shows how Fox news “Frames” Class Warfare

Jon Stewart pointed out the other night on the Daily show how Fox news contributors and guests are actively ‘framing’ class warfare.

According to billionaire Warren Buffet, “While most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks, we have been coddled long enough.”

Coddling the rich, ironically, is what Fox news, and other advocates for the top .01 want us to believe about the poor in this country.  Here is just a sample of the framing attempts being made by a host of contributors from Ann Coulter to John Stossel (of all people).

“It is all out war on the productivity class in our society for the benefit of the moocher class”

“The makers and the takers”

“They want to take it from someone else”

“Parasites we have out there depending on Government”

AND my personal favorite from Ann Coulter, “Welfare will create generations of utterly irresponsible animals”

The goal of framing is to constantly repeat the same or a similar message (eg, demonizing the poor) as indicated above, and then, in true Orwellian fashion, take the opposite of this reality (eg, demonize the rich) and attempt to convince people that this frame represents reality.  In other words, “frame” your opposition for your actions, both linguistically and literally.  Thus, demonizing the poor becomes, demonizing the rich!   Watch this clip to see how Fox attempts to frame us.

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-august-18-2011/world-of-class-warfare—the-poor-s-free-ride-is-over?xrs=share_copy

Basically, these frames are used to distract all of “us” from the real moochers, takers, and parasites, who have rigged the system to “their” advantage, via manipulating the tax code, corporate welfare for transnational companies, welfare for corporate jets, paying poverty wages, outsourcing jobs, taxpayer-funded bailouts for big banks and austerity measures for all of “us”, and last but not least the 37,000 lobbyists in Washington who help make all this happen.

The bottom line: The ruling class find it necessary to say these things and frame reality in order to distract us from the devastating effects of income inequality that is literally destroying our very way of life.  (see the about section for more on this)

In order for a select few of “them” to buy a corporate jet, a third yacht, and second vacation home in the Hampton’s, all of “us” must suffer.  We end up taking a hit on our salaries, wages, benefits, pensions, extended work hours (unpaid, of course), loss of vacation time.  Some even lose our jobs, our homes, become bankrupt due to rising medical costs, and may find ourselves joining the 1 in 7 Americans who are below the poverty line.   The remaining jobs available are from wal-mart or some other transnational corporation paying poverty wages, which of course necessitate the need for food stamps.  If the select few who own the corporations decided to pay descent union wages, then there would be no need for people to become dependent on food stamps and other government programs that “they” (and those they have convinced with their frames) so eagerly point out as being a moocher or taker dependent on government.

Ironically, the same ruling class who rigs the system to their advantage use their political and economic power that they derive from exploiting all of “us” (particularly our labor) and use it against us via the right-wing echo chamber (fox news and others) to convince us that the very people that are exploited by these practices deserve to be poor because they are inherently lazy and do not wish to work hard.   They are quick to point out the end result of a chain of systemic causes (manipulating the tax code, election rigging, the 37,000 lobbyists in Washington buying off politicians, etc) without ever references how this process began, and why millions of people are joining the ranks of the poor, all thanks to income inequality.

When in reality, the simple truth is that “they” are only extraordinarily wealthy (top .01) because of shady practices, and exploitation of others, seemingly with no empathy whatsoever for the lives they destroy in the process.  To put it in perspective, the top 400 households in this country own more wealth than the bottom 50% of the population, or 154 million people combined!

As Jon Stewart pointed out on his show, the bottom 50% have a combined wealth of 1.45 trillion dollars, and would have to give up half of what they own (which is not much considering most are earning less than 22,350 per year for a family of 4) in order to raise revenue to the tune of 700 billion.

This truly is class warfare when fox news and other advocates of the top .01 are actively supporting the idea that the bottom 50% should pay more rather than close a few loopholes that the real parasites created to siphon off more of “our” tax dollars to “them” in the form of corporate jet subsidies, and other forms of corporate welfare the ruling class enjoy at our expense.  What?

Obviously this is another attempt to frame the public and convince “us” that we should be angry at those who are truly being punished, the poor in this country.

But then again, as Warren Buffet commented, his class is winning the war!

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