STOP Framing "us"

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

Archive for the tag “corporate greed”

The Ricketts use of Taxpayer Money to Enrich Themselves and Attack President Obama in the Process: Priceless!

The headline from the Washington Post on Thursday read Rahm “livid” at Ricketts.  Rahm Emanuel, mayor of Chicago, is supposedly not returning calls from the Ricketts family after he discovered Joe Ricketts intention to launch a multi-million dollar attack ad campaign against President Obama.

The issue surrounding the Ricketts family demonstrates the need to shift our priorities from protecting and enriching a few privileged Americans, to protecting the most vulnerable among us, as well as provide an equal playing field for everyone to become prosperous.  As it stands, our political system is set up so that members of the privileged class like the Ricketts are able to use our taxpayer money to launch attack ads against those who seek to put an end to their number one priority, which is paving the path to prosperity for the top 1%, at the expense of the rest of us.

In the case of the Ricketts family, they plan to use taxpayer dollars to fund their smear campaign against our current President.  How do they plan on doing this? Simple. They are legally able to lobby our elected officials for taxpayer money to the tune of $100 million to make so called “renovations” to their privately owned stadium, Wrigley Field.  The planned attack ad campaign is expected to cost $10 million dollars, a mere 10% of the people’s money that will be transferred to the Ricketts family, courtesy of GOP members holding positions in public office.  According to the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, David Cay Johnston, this form of corporate welfare is nothing new.  He claims that taxpayers are spending $2 billion dollars per year to subsidies the four major sports leagues (baseball, basketball, football, and hockey).

In an interview with Democracy now, David Cay Johnston reveals how the super-rich are getting away with transferring wealth from all of us to a select few at the top. He notes, “We have created in the United States, largely in the last 30 years, a whole series of programs, a few of them explicit, many of them deeply hidden to take money from the pockets of the middle class and working poor and funnel it to the wealthiest people in America.”  This interview was conducted shortly after the release of his new book Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and stick you with the bill). As described in this interview, one of the key ways of doing this is to use taxpayer’s money to build sports stadiums so the super wealthy in the privileged class can profit from them.

David Cay Johnston describes how George Steinbrenner, owner of the New York Yankees, received over $600 million in taxpayer funding to build the new Yankee stadium.  The owners of the New York Mets also received over $600 million in taxpayer money, as well as an additional $50 million dollars in taxpayer money courtesy of Mayor Rudy Giuliani, so these wealthy owners could lobby our elected representative for more “free” money.

He also reported that the new owners of the Washington Nationals baseball team paid $450 million dollars for the team, but actually got the team for free!  We actually paid these people to buy the team, and gave them a bonus of over $161 million in the process.  He points out that taxpayer funding is the key to what makes these sports teams profitable.  That’s right, without taxpayer-funded money, also known as corporate welfare, the privileged folks like the Ricketts family would not be able to turn a profit! At the same time we are doing this, David Cay Johnston says that we are starving our public parks for money.  Due to the lack of organized activities in local communities, he says, we are seeing a rise in urban, and now suburban gangs, as well as an increase in violence.  This is what happens when we focus our priorities on transferring wealth to the privileged in this country, as opposed to ensuring prosperity for all.

As it turns out, we are literally taking money from everyone who is physically able to contribute to our common wealth and giving it to the privileged class, who believe they are entitled to it! To make matters worse, families like the Ricketts, who benefit from our tax dollars are also using the power of our Government to prevent anyone else from being able to own sports teams, such as other competitors, non-profit groups, etc.  The so-called “free market” is really nothing more than what David Cay Johnston describes as Corporate Socialism for the super wealthy, and true market capitalism for everyone else.

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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).

A closer look at Governor Scott Walker’s budget shortfall frame: Dennis Kucinich pulls back the curtain on the so called “debt crisis” affecting Wisconsin and other states around the nation.

Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin is in the process of being recalled after he used a fake “deficit crisis” to justify his actions of stripping workers of their rights to fight back when corporations decide to lower their wages, reduce their benefits and eliminate their pension plans.  This is known as the right to collectively bargain, and has been long established in unions across the country because of actions taken in the past by large corporations to purposely drive down the cost of labor in order to further enrich the super-wealthy elite who own the majority share in these companies.  So, clearly Scott Walker is not on the side of workers in Wisconsin. 

The average voter may not be aware of this judging by the influx of out of state money pouring into Wisconsin by the very folks who stand the most to gain if Scott Walker is successful in remaining in office.  These special interests groups, such as the Koch brothers, and ALEC, for instance are using poll tested, focus group approved language to frame Scott Walker as some type of hero for working class Americans.  

We have become so accustomed to believe the “framing” language, courtesy of unethical folks like Frank “The Liar” Luntz, who gets paid manipulate public opinion, that we are actually holding congressional hearings that support the radical ideology from which this language stems.  A perfect illustration of this can be seen in the congressional hearing framed as “choice or necessity” that was held recently regarding the alleged budget shortfall and the necessity or choice to eliminate the established rights of union members. 

As can be seen in the clip below, Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) asks Scott Walker simple questions about how stripping away collective bargaining rights from union members can possibly save the state of Wisconsin money.  These types of questions were directly relevant since the congressional hearing in which they took place was focused on the fictitious “debt crisis” Scott Walker claimed his state was facing that necessitated taking away workers rights.     

In response to this line of questioning, Scott Walker immediately began to regurgitate his pre-rehearsed frame of providing workers with the freedom to choose whether or not they want to join a union.  After all this language of having the ‘freedom to choose’ is intended to trigger the emotional response Frank Luntz discovered works to piss people off by making them think that Government and ‘big union bosses’ are taking away your freedoms.  This language is also being used in the ‘Right to Work’ legislation promoted by ALEC, who stands to gain enormous amounts of wealth at the expense of stripping away worker rights, eliminating pensions, and reducing the wages and benefits paid to workers.   In this sense, stripping worker rights to collectively bargain is only the first step in the process of transferring wealth from working Americans to the super-wealthy elite, who believe they are entitled to it!

Thanks to Dennis Kucinich we now know that the entire purpose of this congressional hearing involving Scott Walker was complete nonsense, since stripping the bargaining rights of union workers has absolutely nothing to do with the fiscal issues facing the state of Wisconsin.  In other words, the fake “debt crisis” that Scott Walker deliberately created was meant to serve as a distraction to convince people to vote against their own interests and well being.

Dennis Kucinich further pulled back the curtain on Scott Walker’s fake “debt crisis” by pointing out that the real budget issues facing the state of Wisconsin results from Scott Walker’s actions of helping corporations dodge their tax obligations.  This corporate tax dodging has led to a $2.5 billion dollar revenue shortfall in the past year alone that must be made up somewhere else.  That somewhere else is on the backs of working Americans.  In addition, Dennis Kucinich notes that under Scott Walkers watch, an overwhelming number of corporations are not paying any taxes at all!  (2/3 of all corporations).  This exemplifies how Scott Walker and other radical right wing Governors are able to continue transferring wealth up!  They must force ‘austerity’ on the rest of us in order to continue to protect and enrich the ‘privileged’ in America.

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