STOP Framing "us"

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

Archive for the tag “frames”

It’s Time We Embrace An “Economy for Everyone”

Growing our economy has become a key focal point in political discussions in recent years, and has important public policy implications moving forward.  In the name of “economic growth” and the pursuit of “pro-growth” policies, we have implemented a series of austerity measures that have been devastating to the public at large, while protecting and further enriching the wealthy class in America.

The term “economic growth” is a frame designed to convince us that we all benefit when our economy grows, and that the best way to do this is to give wealthy people more tax breaks, or “tax relief”, which is another frame.  In other words, we are all expected to pay more in taxes, so the wealthy class can pay less!  A recent study by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) does a great job at exposing both right wing frames.

The CRS study specifically analyzed 65 years worth of data between top tax rates and economic growth.  Although the top tax rates wealthy people pay have never been lower during this time period, the study found no correlation between top tax rates and economic growth.  Another fascinating discovery was that a correlation was found between reducing the top tax rates and increased concentrations of wealth for this privileged class.  In other words, voting for “tax relief” in the past has led to a transfer of wealth over the past 65 years from millions of hard working Americans to a few affluent families.  It’s clear from these findings that providing “tax relief” in the name of pursuing “economic growth” is actually harming our economy by unnecessarily privileging the wealthy at the expense of everyone else.

Another interesting element of the “economic growth” frame involves the belief that with hard work anyone can become successful and achieve the American dream.  This is also known as social mobility, or equality of opportunity.  Unfortunately, America is no longer the land of opportunity it once was, and many people are coming to the realization that the American dream is now a myth.  Joseph Stiglitz, an award winning economist, wrote an article on this very issue recently called, “Equal Opportunity, Our National Myth

where he discusses how the U.S. has less equality of opportunity than nearly every other industrial country.  After pointing out that children of affluent families are inclined to experience better health care, education, and nutrition, Stiglitz noted, “in some cases it seems as if policy has actually been designed to reduce opportunity…”, particularly with respect to education.

This is what a focus on “pro-growth” policies has gotten us.  A lopsided economy where a few affluent families are able to send their kids to the best schools, receive the best health care, and live in enriching and non polluted environments, while the rest of us deal with the aftermath of austerity measures aimed at cutting funding for our children’s schools, losing our health care, and not having equal access to enriching environments.  The repetition of this frame by the modern day Republican Party, Fox news affiliates, and pundits on the right is used to gain public support for policies that prevent and outright reduce equality of opportunity for the majority of people, while convincing us to believe in the myth of the American dream.  This is what “pro-growth” policies mean.  They are intentionally designed to benefit the privileged at the expense of everyone else.

It appears as if some on the left have also started to adopt the economic growth frame.  In an effort to combat the utter failures of trickle-down economics and correct the deficiencies it has brought about, they too have adopted similar language arguing in favor of “middle-out” economics.  Unfortunately, being in favor of middle-out economics is still advocating for “economic growth”, and will continue to ensure we adopt more of the same “pro-growth” policies that are causing many of our social and economic problems.  Instead, we need to embrace an “Economy for Everyone”.

In their book The Spirit Level, epidemiologists’ Wilkinson and Pickett, brilliantly illustrate how we are currently experiencing material success, but social failure in the U.S.  This is largely a result of reaching the limits of what economic growth can provide to wealthy countries, as well as the undeniable contribution of inequality of income that exists within the U.S.  In fact, according to the authors, “economic growth, for so long the great engine of progress, has in the rich countries, largely finished its work.”  Today, we are witnessing an overall decrease in health, happiness, and wellbeing of millions of American families, among many other social ills as a result of one single factor; the difference in income levels between the have and have nots.  Such a discrepancy between material success and social failure suggests that, “if we are to gain further improvements in the real quality of life, we need to shift attention from material standards and economic growth to ways of improving the psychological and social wellbeing of whole societies.”

In order to successfully increase the overall health, happiness and well being for all American families, we need to advocate for and spread the message of an “Economy for Everyone”.  An economy that works for everyone takes all of our needs into consideration, and reduces the level of inequality across income groups, which is the single largest contributor to our current economic and social failures.

In addition, the PEW research center recently found that 90% of Americans want the government to do everything it can to ensure equality of opportunity.  With equality of opportunity, we can overcome many of the hurdles that are artificially placed before us under the guise of “economic growth”, and once again ensure America’s standing in the world as the land of opportunity.  Therefore, spreading the message of an “Economy for Everyone” should be a no-brainer, and this language will hopefully replace any future discussion of “middle-out” economics.

The challenge facing the adoption of this new language comes from policy makers and political pundits, who (perhaps unknowingly) are keeping the “economic growth” frame alive.  Consequently, a focus on economic growth primarily benefits the affluent at the expense of everyone else, reduces equality of opportunity, and stands in the way to a achieving a happier and healthier society.

Why Occupy Wall Street? A former insider reveals the ‘game’ Wall Street is playing with our lives!

In her article, “Why I Had to Get Out: Confessions of a Wall Street Insider, Alexis Goldstein says, “before I occupied Wall Street, Wall Street occupied me.”  This insider writes about the ‘cultural indoctrination’ that occurs once a person is hired on Wall Street, stating that “Most of the message revolves around how hard everyone works, and how hard you are expected to work in return.” This type of messaging ties directly into the “frame” that the privileged folks on Wall Street somehow earn the money they make, and we shouldn’t “punish” their success.  She goes on to note, “This dueling masochism/machismo brings with it a tremendous superiority complex.  People on Wall Street truly believe they work harder than anyone else.”  “When you are wealthy and successful, you have a choice.  You can believe your success stems from luck and privilege, or you can believe it stems from hard work.”

This so called, “hard work” ethic on Wall Street is nothing more than getting ahead by selfishly manipulating and betraying others, including one’s own clients, and the very firm one works for.  “Wall street employees quickly learn that even their company is an enemy. To the firm, employees are a cost to be minimized, or a producer to be exploited.”  The secret to what we are framed to believe defines “success” is to become a knowing and willing participant in a culture of corruption that involves winning at any cost!  This winning at any cost attitude is pervasive and involves a ‘game’ being played on Wall Street where everyone seeks to enrich themselves at the expense of everyone else.   This is in line with the Ayn Rand philosophy being embraced by Paul Ryan and the rest of the modern day GOP.

“What this environment did to me is that I began to see everyone as a threat. From that idiot two cubicles down from me, to the moron on the other end of the phone (the client), to—more than anything—the faceless, imagined people on government assistance that I assumed (incorrectly) were causing such large percentages to disappear from my paycheck.”  Despite the insidious nature of this immoral view of reality that is detrimental to society at large, there is something we can learn from this insider’s courageous exposure of this sinister culture.  She is proof positive that people can walk away from this framed version of reality and join the rest of us that live in non-gated communities and actually care about one another. “The true key to getting out was taking off my blinders: meeting others who were outside Wall Street’s bubble.”

This Wall Street insider eloquently points out the distinction between what the culture of Wall Street believes in and how this differs from what the Occupy Wall street movement believes in.  She mentions that Wall Street believes in and embraces a culture of scarcity, which breeds hoarding, distrust and competition.   Occupy Wall Street on the other hand, seems to believe the opposite, she says, which breeds sharing, trust and cooperation.

“On Wall Street, everyone was my competitor.  They’d help me only if it helped them.”

“At Occupy Wall street, I am offered food, warmth and support because it’s the right thing to do, and because joy breeds joy.”

It appears that we all have a choice to make regarding the direction we want our country to go in.  We can vote for radical conservatives who embrace this psychopathic mentality of only being concerned with our immediate self-interest at the expense of everyone else, (as this former insider admitted doing) or we can Occupy Wall Street and help progressives change the rules of the game!

Framing our unconscious: How language can be used to influence your thoughts, actions and beliefs beyond what you could ever expect (consciously)

Theoretical physicist, Leonard Mlodinow appeared on the Dylan Ratigan show today to discuss his new book Subliminal: how your unconscious mind rules your behavior.  Prior to introducing this guest, Dylan stated, “Revolutionary new neuroscience is proving that the way that our brain perceives so called facts in front of us dictates our emotional and overall experience in reality” Leonard Mlodinow discussed the implications current neuroscience research has on our very thoughts, actions and behaviors.  Since most of what we do is essentially determined unconsciously, the author notes, the brain is using whatever data it has available to inform your conscious mind about what decisions to make.  This readily available data, in the form of current topics in the news, for instance, combined with our previous experiences impacts the way we see the world, what we believe, and how we relate to others.

According to the author, the way you see the world isn’t the way the world actually is, it just so happens to be the way you feel about things based on your previous experiences, and the information you are exposed to.  Therefore, being able to tap into these feelings by controlling the information that is readily available for people to consume, according to current neuroscience research, has the ability to impact our entire belief system.  It just so happens that the radical right wing has spent billions of dollars in think tanks to figure out exactly how to tap into these feelings.  This is why they hire people like Frank “The Liar” Luntz to craft specific language that is purposely designed to influence us on an unconscious level, so that the “frame” becomes the reality we see.

To make matters worse, the media itself, from the newspapers we read, radio shows we listen to, and news stations we watch are almost entirely corporately owned and controlled.  Taken together, the influence of the “corporate media” combined with the “frames” Frank Luntz uses to manipulate us, is having a major detrimental impact on our culture.   Ironically, those in the “privileged sector” who are responsible for this pure and utter immoral manipulation are successfully using framing language to also convince us that we should blame “illegal immigrants”, “welfare recipients”, and “latte sipping liberals” for the problems they are responsible for creating.

When we accept the right wing “frames”, we tend to believe that those who are born ‘privileged’ in this country actually earned their money, and so we shouldn’t “punish the rich.”  We tend to believe that a healthcare system that would actually provide healthcare for all is somehow a “Government take-over of healthcare.” We tend to believe that asking people in the privileged class to contribute to our Democracy by helping to fund the very public services and resources that they utilize more than the rest of us is “class warfare.”  As an alternative, we tend to believe that giving more of our tax dollars to the privileged in this country is providing “tax relief” to those we tend to believe are “job-creators.”

Belief in these frames enables the status quo of income inequality to continue without objection.  The danger in not objecting is that more of us are sinking into poverty, losing our jobs, our homes, and experiencing higher levels of stress, anxiety and depression. It explains why were eating too much, smoking too much, drinking too much, and committing more crimes, all while those at the top are being showered with the wealth that we all help to create.  Despite all of this evidence, and the fact that the United States is still the richest nation on the planet, the frame “we’re broke” that is being used to perpetuate all of the immoral and devastating effects of income inequality persists.  Of equal importance is the fact that any attempt by progressives to reverse this disastrous trend is framed as a “Government intrusion into your life.”

This is why we all need to understand the power of language in shaping not only who we are, but who we are becoming as a nation. America works together, not in isolation from each other, where one privileged class prevails at the expense of everyone else.

Paul Ryan’s crusade to “Raid the Railroad” is being framed as an attempt to “save” taxpayers money. Where have we heard this language before?

Paul Ryan, Republican chair of the House Budget Committee, is attempting to Raid the Railroad Retirement fund by introducing a ‘poison pill’ that would effectively steal the hard earned money that Railroad workers have been putting aside for years. Many people may be familiar with Paul Ryan’s current budget plan for our nation, which he calls a “path to prosperity.”  What many people may not be aware of is that his plan for the nation is similar to his plan for local railroad workers, which is to create a “path to prosperity” for the top 1% that is being paved by a “path to poverty” for the rest of us.

Paul Ryan added a little something extra this year to the conservative’s immoral budget proposal for America.  In addition to devastating our social safety net by gutting social programs that benefit the most vulnerable populations among us, including the working poor, sick, disabled and elderly populations, Paul Ryan is extending this destructive crusade to include middle class working Americans who contribute to the railroad pension fund.  It should be noted that the money saved from this crusade will be transfered up to the wealthiest among us, who believe they are entitled to it!

According to the Railroad Retirement Board “An accompanying report (House Report 112-421) to the House of Representatives’ version of the federal budget for fiscal year 2013 includes a list of reforms that could impact government income security programs.” According to this report, conservative politicians in Washington are actively trying to “conform Tier I so that its benefits would equal those of Social Security, with an estimated savings to taxpayers of $2 billion over 10 years.”  What this means is that workers will be forced to alter their existing pension plan, which has been working to benefit retired and disabled railroad employees for years.

What Paul Ryan is not telling the American people is that the railroad pension fund has absolutely nothing to do with taxpayers.  The Railroad pension fund is completely funded by railroad workers themselves.  Not one dime of taxpayer money is used to fund this pension plan.  So, why would a conservative politician in Washington say otherwise?  The short answer is that Paul Ryan is operating under a radical ideology that seeks to transfer wealth from average working Americans to upper class members of what Vice President Joe Biden referred to as the “privileged sector.”

Despite the fact that Railroad workers fund their own pension plans, NOT TAXPAYERS! it is important to point out that this language of “saving taxpayers $2 billion over 10 years” will soon be the focus of attention by the majority of conservative politicians in Washington, not to mention Fox news, and all of the radical right wing talk show hosts.  Soon, they will all be on the same page, so to speak, and join forces to endlessly repeat this talking point of saving taxpayers money.

When viewed through the lens, or “frame” of saving taxpayers money, Paul Ryan’s comments appear to make sense.  This is how framing works.  Specific language is used to create a “frame” that represents how people see an issue.  In this case, the endless repetition of “saving taxpayers money” that will shortly occur will start to make sense to viewers and listeners of this right wing echo chamber because of the sheer repetition of this nonsensical frame.  This strategy works in a similar fashion to advertising.   The more a message is heard or seen, the more readily available it becomes once this topic is brought up.

With that being said, the sad, but ugly truth is that some of us will begin to view the Railroad Retirement pension fund through the lens of this frame, and believe that this issue is primarily about saving taxpayers money, and not about the fact that it really involves stealing money from working Americans.

The great thing about framing, (for conservatives who seek to manipulate us), is that any fact that doesn’t fit the frame is rejected, and only misinformed opinions that reinforce the frame are accepted.  They’re pretty slick aren’t they!

Since the ‘poison pill’ language above has not yet been used to amend the Railroad Retirement Act, the Railroad Retirement Board, who oversees the fund is not able to comment on what changes to tier I benefits will actually take place for current railroad employees.  I guess now would be the time for people who work on the railroad, as well as concerned citizens who care about threats to our current social safety net, should begin to take action by calling their local and state representatives to protest this immoral theft taking place by radical conservatives politicians.

Why Mitt Romney is ‘out of touch’ with the rest of us: His role in keeping the Legacy of Trust Fund babies going!

Mitt Romney is a classic example of a trust fund baby.  He began life with everything handed to him on a silver platter, including a million dollar (or more) trust that he was able to use to get ahead in his adult life.   Similarly, Mitt Romney is dusting off that silver platter his daddy gave him in order to put $100 million on it, which he will then hand to his children, (while avoiding his tax obligation, of course).  Talk about an un-level playing field, but then again, this is what life is like for members who are born ‘privileged’ in America.

These spoiled brats use daddy’s money to make more money and then use daddy’s influence and connections in Washington to rig the tax code in their favor so they don’t have to join the ranks of the working folk.  Instead, their days are filled by sitting around the pool with other trust fund babies waiting for the next dividend check to arrive.  This is how the top 0.1% makes their money.  They are nothing more than a collection of trust fund babies, who are catapulted into positions of leadership and power, all while attempting to convince the rest of us that they actually worked hard for it!

Their definition of working hard is hiring people with daddy’s trust fund money to come up with creative ways to feed off of the living wages of those who actually work hard for a living.   This is how Mitt Romney made his money, by firing people and stealing their pension funds.  It’s ironic how one group of people (bottom 99.9%) earns their money the hard way, and another group (top 0.1%) comes along and finds ways to steal it from them because they believe they are entitled to it!  We shouldn’t be surprised, however, since they are spoiled brats!

Where have we heard this language before?

“sense of entitlement” = “welfare recipients” = “no work ethic” = “feeding off the system” = “entitlement programs” = “European style Socialism”

This group of ‘privileged’ members of the lucky sperm club, who collect un-earned income checks have the audacity to turn around and “frame” the millions of people who actually work hard in this country for low wages as being “welfare recipients”, who they claim are sitting around and collecting a free (ie, un-earned) check.

This is amazing! Members of the “privileged sector” are literally “framing” the working poor in this country for their actions!

What’s interesting about this phenomenon, besides the fact that it has largely gone unnoticed, is that everyone basically agrees that sitting around doing nothing and collecting a check, while others must work for their money is not right.  This is what makes this frame so effective, and it is working to convince millions of people that the victims of the immoral acts being committed by the “privileged sector” are somehow responsible for their own low wages, raided pension funds, less time off, and mandatory un-paid overtime hours worked.  How else can we explain the steady rise in productivity of our workforce, while wages are actually declining, or remaining flat, at best?

What people are missing is that the only reason why so many millions have to work for minimum wage and barely scrape by is because those at the top want more!  In order to keep those dividend checks flowing to the top 0.1%, as illustrated by Mitt Romney, who doesn’t even have a job, but yet deposited millions worth of dividend checks last year, ordinary workers must earn less.  This is characteristic of what has become known as the race to the bottom in terms of wages being paid to workers, so the difference can be paid to the top in the form of dividends.

In order to continue this bonanza for the next generation of trust fund babies, it becomes necessary to misinform the public with the help of their ‘pool buddies’ in the corporately owned media by using Orwellian language to convince the rest of us that the opposite of reality is true.  That somehow those at the bottom do not work hard and are feeding off of the system, so they can keep people looking down instead of up when casting blame for what’s wrong with our society.

Another prime example is “framing” Mitt Romney’s actions of cashing enormous dividend checks, for instance, as being the result of creating jobs.  Hence the “job creator” frame is readily applied to his behavior.

In reality he and other trust fund babies are sponging off of the rest of us by shipping our jobs overseas, and dismantling entire companies in order to continue the flow of dividend checks to fellow members of the “privileged sector.”  In this sense, Mitt Romney is actually a “job cremator”, who gets to live the rest of his life off of the pension money other people should be receiving for their hard work over the years.

The top 1% took in 93% of all income gains in 2010. What does this transfer of wealth mean for our country?

The most critical issue affecting the majority of American citizens that is rarely discussed by political pundits, including those on the left, is the fact that in order for the top 1% to rake in 93% of all income gains in 2010, as illustrated in the chart below, a transfer of wealth must take place from all of “us” to a select few of “them.”  This is how it becomes possible for the top 1% to pile up such massive amounts of wealth to the point where just 400 households, (those at the peak of the pyramid scheme they have turned America into) can possess more wealth than 154 million people combined (half the U.S. population).

Startling figures like this is what makes radical right wing initiatives, such as Paul Ryan’s budget plan so extremely important, since the implementation of our budget and tax policy not only determines the moral values we set for our nation, but also who benefits in our society.  Should everyone share in the success we all help to create, as reflected in the past when we implemented moral budget priorities and a progressive vision for our future?  Or, should we continue to adopt radical pieces of legislation that further widen the gap between those in the top 1% and everyone else, as seen in the fat cat illustration above?

This chart from the Economic Policy Institute reflects how the growth in income was shared between those at the top and everyone else during what was known as the ‘Golden Age of Capitalism’ (1945-1975).  During this time period, our political leaders recognized that higher tax rates on the super-rich were advantageous to our economy and nation as a whole.  This ‘Golden age of Capitalism’ led to the creation of a thriving middle class, where the majority of people (including those at the top) benefitted, as opposed to only a tiny minority reaping all of the income gains.

Contrast the ‘Golden age of Capitalism’ with the time period immediately following it when Ronald Reagan came into office in 1980, and ending when George W. Bush  left office in 2008.  During this period, our conservative leaders decided to drop the progressive vision for America that was working to benefit us all in favor of a radical right wing ideology that focuses strictly on what benefits those at the very top.  It’s no surprise, given the shift in priorities that an unconscionable amount of profits were captured by those at the top, while a mere pittance of 2% of all income gain during this time period was made available for the rest of the people (90%) to share.

The problem we face today is that the tiny minority in the top 1% has been very successful thus far at implementing this radical vision for America and getting what they want.   This is largely accomplished by consolidating and controlling the media (ie, corporate media) in order to develop a well functioning ‘echo chamber’ to spread misinformation and “frame” the public to believe conservative politicians are actually trying to “save” and “strengthen” Social Security and Medicare, and help create a path to prosperity for all.

If we continue to believe this nonsense, then the GOP’s “path to prosperity” for the top 1% will continue to be paved, which means the rest of us will be faced with drastic cuts to vital services that will initially affect the most vulnerable populations among us, (the working poor, sick, and disabled) but will eventually affect us all every time they seek to re-pave the “path to prosperity” in the future.  We must understand that this is the conservative version of morality, and their tax and budget policies will naturally follow from their moral principles, which are first and foremost to protect and enrich fellow members of the upper class at the expense of everyone else.

 

H.R. 5: The GOP plan to protect the “privileged sector” from prosecution, otherwise framed as a plan to “save” Medicare.

Paul Ryan admitted on C-span that the George Orwell Party’s (GOP) plan to “save” Medicare involves one of the top 5 priorities of the Republican Party since taking control of the House of Representatives.  The 5th bill introduced by GOP members of the House (H.R. 5) as soon as John Boehner took over as speaker, is designed to protect the “privileged sector” from prosecution, which has absolutely nothing to do with Medicare.  Many people getting their news from the corporately controlled media, especially Fox news or some radical right wing talk show host, however, will not be aware of this reality.  Instead, they are likely to believe that this bill will “save” Medicare because the plan to “save” Medicare is the latest “frame” being endlessly repeated by members of the GOP in order to convince people of this Orwellian lie!  In reality, the GOP wants to end Medicare, not “save” it.

As can be seen in the details of this bill, H.R.5 is designed to shield the “privileged sector” from any liability or accountability for their actions.

What this means is that any future act of wrongdoing on the part of callous corporations to knowingly and willingly put people’s lives in danger amount to nothing more than a slap on the wrist.  By limiting the liability of damages caused by corrupt and willfully negligent corporations, H.R. 5 actually encourages immoral behaviors, and encourages the cost cutting measures that put people’s lives at risk, since the only punishment the “privileged sector” will receive is a measly fine of $250,000.  In short, this bill protects the “privileged sector” from prosecution.

Successfully holding corporations accountable for their immoral actions by awarding large sums of money (ie, class actions lawsuits) to the victims of such egregious violations of the law sends a message that these actions are not tolerated in a civilized society.  However, rather than discouraging the reckless and callous behavior of corporations by increasing the penalty and holding corporations accountable for their actions, the “privileged sector” and their advocates in the GOP have a different message they want to send.  A message that encourages this sort of immoral behavior due to the impact it has on the bottom line, not to mention limiting the amount of damages they have to pay, once their cost cutting measures inevitably fail, and we the people pay the price!

A clear cut example of attempting to protect the “privileged sector” can be seen in the recent BP oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.  Instead of demanding answers from the CEO of BP at a House congressional hearing on this matter, a GOP member of Congress, Joe Barton, R-Texas, apologized when we attempted to hold BP accountable for their actions.  Joe Barton had this to say, “I’m ashamed at what happened in the Whitehouse yesterday, I think it is A tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown.”  This of course, was in reference to the restitution payments BP was being required to pay for the damage they were responsible for causing.

Amazingly, as seen in this short video clip, Joe Barton’s top priority and concern was not for the people who died as a result of BP’s willful disregard of safety standards, nor was he concerned about the catastrophic damage these callous actions caused to the environment.  Instead, this ranking member of the Energy & Commerce Committee’s primary concern was apologizing to the CEO of BP.  This example clearly shows what members of the GOP really care about, protecting the “privileged sector.”

In the end, the GOP’s plan to “save” Medicare is nothing more than a frame designed to divert our attention away from their real agenda of protecting the “privileged sector” from prosecution. Unfortunately, GOP members in both the House and the Senate are not only helping the “privileged sector” get away with profiting at the expense of the people, but they too are actively receiving a piece of the action!

The Republican Jobs Act: Nothing more than a repackaging of old bills with the added twist of “Framing” ‘Big Government’ for the actions of the ‘Big Banks’

Almost immediately after taking office President Obama launched an initiative to help jump-start our economy by making it easier for small businesses to gain access to the capital they need in order to start up or expand their businesses and add jobs.

“Small businesses are the heart of the American economy,” said in announcing the measures. “They’re responsible for half of all private-sector jobs, and they created roughly 70 percent of all new jobs in the past decade. . . . But today, too many entrepreneurs can’t access the capital to start, operate or grow their business. Too many dreams are being deferred or denied by a form letter canceling a line of credit.”

The simple, but ugly truth is that the big banks are not lending small businesses the money they need.  This is in spite of sitting on trillions of dollars, some of which was the result of the massive Government funded bailout, or ‘transfer of wealth’ from the average American taxpayer to Wall Street banks, compliments of former President George W. Bush.

As pointed out by staff writers from the Washington Post, Treasury Secretary Timothy Gitner, “admonished the nation’s largest banks for withholding loans to many small businesses, telling the banks that they helped create the current mess and “bear a special responsibility for helping America get out of it” by increasing the flow of credit, especially since they have benefited from massive federal bailouts.

As a result of the big banks failure to help small businesses get access to the capital they need, President Obama stepped in and attempted to jump-start small businesses in this country by providing financial stimulus to the tune of $15 billion dollars in order to encourage the big banks to lend us our own money back! (with interest)

What this means is that the Government must intervene in order to coddle the big banks into lending small business owners money in this country.

This is truly unbelievable!!!

So, what are the Conservatives saying about all this?

Well, naturally, they are using “frames” to argue their point.  Conservative politicians also point out that small businesses are being denied access to the capital they need.  However, they must misinform the public by claiming that Government regulations, red tape and bureaucracy are to blame instead of the real culprit, which is the ‘Big Banks on Wall Street’.

Here are just a couple of illustrations of the “frames” being used by Conservative politicians in relation to the repackaged House bills that form the basis of the Republican Jobs Act.

This is just a snap shot of what it looks like when Republican politicians literally “frame” ‘Big Government’ for the actions being committed by the ‘Big Banks.’

As pointed out in the Washington Post article, “some critics said the government is relying on a broken program that may end up benefiting big banks and lenders more than small businesses. Through the SBA, lenders would see larger profits and take fewer risks than they would through ordinary loan programs. As a result, lenders could steer borrowers into the SBA program even when they qualify for ordinary loans, said Veronique de Rugy, a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. “This is a system that rewards banks,” she said.”

In the end, should we be more upset with the fact that we are all being “framed” to believe that ‘Big Government’ is to blame instead of ‘Big Banks’ for restricting access to capital for small business owners, or the fact that Conservative politicians in Washington are abusing their power by allowing ‘Big Banks’ to take advantage of Government programs such as the SBA to enrich members of the “privileged sector” at the expense of ordinary taxpayers.

Vice President Joe Biden discusses the ‘vision’ of the modern day Republican Party or what he calls supporting the “privileged sector.”

In reference to the political strategy of obstruction and division the modern day Republican Party uses to divide this country, Vice President Joe Biden had this to say recently, “these guys, I don’t think their bad guys, but I think they really believe, they really believe as strongly as we do in the direction they want to take the country…”  He goes on to describe their vision of America by saying that they are not even trying to hide or pretend anymore about what they stand for.  He says, “Not only in their rhetoric, but their actions, how they vote, what they propose, what their budget is, it’s a stark, stark, stark, stark contrast, even a stark contrast of the traditional Republican party of the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s…”

“The big difference between us and them, I think, can be distilled to a phrase, the difference between us and them is, we are strongly supportive of the private sector, they are supportive of the “privileged sector…”

For a visual of what happens when we support the “privileged sector”, take a look at the following chart.  It reflects the analyses offered by Economist Paul Krugman regarding what really happens when we enact Republican budget and tax policies.  Paul Krugman notes, “Because of movement conservative political dominance, taxes on the rich have fallen, and the holes in the safety net have gotten bigger, even as inequality has soared. And the rise of movement conservatism is also at the heart of the bitter partisanship that characterizes politics today.”

Notice that when we enact policies that favor the “privileged sector”, such as less regulation and lower taxes on the super-wealthy, look what happens.  These ‘Tea-party’ policies of less regulation, limited Government, and lower taxes on the so called, “job creators” not only led to the “great depression” in 1930, but also led to our current depression that began in 2008, which nearly led to a global financial meltdown.  Both of these periods are marked by vast poverty, needless suffering, and terrible economic conditions resulting from unnecessarily high levels of income inequality.

In contrast, the period in the middle of this chart from around 1940 to 1980, reflects a period in our nation’s history when we increased Governmental regulations on the “job cremators”, preventing them from killing American jobs, when we imposed higher taxes on the super-wealthy members of the “privileged sector”, making sure they participated in our Democracy, as opposed to their preferred method of ruling from above, and when we allowed the average working American to participate in the profits they helped generate in both the private as well as public sectors.

In reference to Presidential candidates of the modern day Republican party, Vice President Biden had this to say, “I think it’s more than about obstructionism for Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, I think they actually believe what they are saying.  When they say, let Detroit go bankrupt, let foreclosures happen, poor people have no habit of work, Barrack Obama is the food stamp president.  I think it’s not just political theatre, I think they are committed to it.”  He’s right!  They really believe what they are saying because it’s necessary in order to continue the status quo of income inequality, which coincidentally, further enriches the “privileged sector” at the expense of everyone else.

The “frames” used by Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and other radical right wing conservatives are designed to focus our attention on those receiving food stamps, as opposed to the extremely wealthy, who are gaming the system to benefit the upper class members of the “privileged sector.”  What Vice President Biden was trying to express, I believe, is that the private sector has been replaced by the “privileged sector”, and that he is in favor of going back to a time period in this country when the tax and regulatory policies that led to the creation of a thriving middle class were firmly in place.  Policies that promoted income equality, as opposed to high levels of income inequality that we will surely experience under the direction and leadership of the modern day Republican party.  After all, as pointed out by Vice President Biden, the modern day Republican Party is no longer hiding the fact that they are in favor of the “privileged sector.”

Mitt Romney reveals his party’s ‘moral budget priorities’ for America at the CPAC convention: More profit for the ‘privileged’ at the expense of the ‘public’.

Although budget and tax policy may not seem like very exciting topics, budgets are extremely important since they are essentially moral documents.  The budgets we set for ourselves and the tax revenue we use to fund them reflect our shared values as a people.  Just as our parents and grandparents budgeted and paid for the things we publicly share today, such as the paved roads and bridges we drive on, the public schools we send our children to, the hospitals we go to when we get sick, and the court system we use to protect the public by prosecuting those who violate the social norms and values we share.

These are just a few examples of what our ancestors thought were necessary and worthy values, so they decided to act on this information and budget our tax dollars to pay for these things in order to serve the common good.

Unfortunately, there is another group of ‘privileged’ individuals in society, who prefer to be separate from the rest of us by walling themselves off in gated communities, who choose not to send their kids to the same schools we do, and who don’t want to pay for the heavy use and abuse of the common good we all help pay for.

In fact, this privileged group of super-wealthy elites does not want to protect the rights, or support the values of anyone who is not a member of the “privileged sector.”  This is reflected in their adamant opposition to participating in our Democracy by refusing to contribute any tax revenue to help solve the problems they are responsible for creating.  The so called “debt crisis” Republicans constantly refer to was caused by the same two budget and tax priorities Mitt Romney supported at the CPAC convention.

The primary values favored by Mitt Romney and the Republican party are simple. Increase the size of Government through unsustainable military and war spending, and more tax breaks for members of the “privileged sector.”

In order to accomplish this goal of valuing profit over people, it becomes necessary to decrease spending and impose ‘austerity’ measures on the rest of us by eliminating or privatizing the social safety net (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid), deep cuts to public education, to include mass layoffs of teachers, cuts to our health and safety systems, including denying access to healthcare for people in need, laying off firefighters and police officers, and eliminating food, air and water safety protections.  Basically, the destruction of our shared value system in order to satisfy the greedy needs of the “privileged sector.”

Mitt Romney admitted to supporting these values by favoring a budget and tax policy that is against raising taxes on the super-wealthy, ”Tax hikes are off the table”, his support for an unsustainable level of military spending, “I will not be cutting our military budget” and imposing austerity on the rest of us “without raising taxes, I will finally balance the American budget”.

In the end, Mitt Romney and other radical Republican politicians are getting away with their skewed immoral priorities by framing Democratic opponents for their actions.  Budget and tax policies that are designed to increase the size of Government in order to protect and support the “privileged sector” are being framed as “tax & spend” policies that increase the size of Government to protect and support “welfare recipients.”

Unfortunately, many people believe these “frames” and actively support policies and programs that they mistakenly think will uphold our shared values.  Instead, what tends to happen is that a belief in these frames leads people to support the very budget and tax policies that are detrimental to our health and well being.  Policies that reflect underlying values that are diametrically opposed to the shared values we hold as a nation, and only serve to further enrich the already wealthy and powerful “privileged sector.”

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