STOP Framing "us"

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

Archive for the tag “income inequality”

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.

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.

Bernie Sander’s attempt to ‘Protect the Public’ from the immoral behavior of the Big Banks!

In an interview with Wolf Blitzer, Bernie Sanders describes a much needed effort to reign in the big banks who are walking all over us. As pointed out by Bernie Sanders, the 6 largest financial institutions (ie, big banks) own more than half of all mortgages in this country, two-thirds of all credit cards, and assets of $9 trillion dollars, which is equivalent to two-thirds of the entire Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the United States.

What does this mean for you and me? Well, for starters, it means the privileged class in this country is accumulating massive amounts of wealth at the expense of everyday citizens by squeezing them with increased ATM and other bank fees, hikes on their credit card interest rates, and predatory lending practices that led to the housing crisis we are still recovering from. To make matters worse, these privileged members of society are using their enormous wealth and power to influence our elected officials to enact a variety of legislation that perpetuates the status quo of income inequality.  By doing so, the GOP is effectively allowing a select few at the top to achieve prosperity at the expense of the rest of us, who are doing our best to keep our heads above water and make ends meet.

As explained by Bernie Sanders, when the big banks engaged in this immoral behavior in the past, a Republican president, Teddy Roosevelt, put an end to it by preventing the big banks from gaining even more wealth and power by breaking them up. Legislation was introduced to protect the public from this immoral behavior, which served the purpose of stopping powerful special interests from colluding with one another and exploiting the rest of us.

Look at how far the Republican Party has moved to the right since then.  Ever since Ronald Reagan was elected president in the early 1980’s we have witnessed a GOP gone wild, and every successful public protection policy put in place to prevent harm caused by the big banks was repealed via the use of the “burdensome regulations” frame. The GOP cleverly made it appear as if enacting public protections (ie, regulations) were somehow causing the very problems these protections were trying to prevent.  As a result, people are more inclined to support GOP efforts in expanding the size and power of the big banks, while firmly believing that they are helping to solve our problems.

This language of “burdensome regulations” has been repeated so often by our elected representatives, media personalities, and other newscasters that it simply rolls off the tongue of those who have been exposed to it whenever discussing any attempt to enact public protection policies. The unfortunate reality is that the instant gut reaction many people feel when simply hearing the word regulations is enough to activate this frame, which leads one to believe action is needed to stop regulations from being imposed on us. In order to avoid this trap of adopting a self-defeating view on a particular issue, we should stop using the term regulations, and start calling them what they are, public protections that seek to prevent people, both real and imaginary (ie, corporations) from causing the rest of us harm.

According to Bernie Sanders, “we need to re-regulate the big banks”, or re-enact the Glass Steagall (public protection) Act in order to prevent the Wall Street Casino from crashing our economy again. As an added slap in the face to the American taxpayer, Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan Chase (one of the 6 big banks) is currently serving on the Board of the New York Federal Reserve, which is responsible for protecting the people from the immoral actions of the big banks.  Just as we did in the past, Bernie Sanders is planning on introducing legislation next week to break up the big banks, and put an end to the “fox guarding the hen house” situation of putting Jamie Dimon in charge of stopping the immoral behavior of the big banks.

Can Socialism rescue ‘us’ again from the grips of Crony Capitalism? Corporations seem to love it!

Although the modern day GOP would have us believe that our economy functions better when those at the top continue to receive endless tax breaks, oil subsidies, corporate jet subsidies, and other forms of corporate socialism, our nation’s history proves otherwise.  When we enacted economic policies that favored higher taxes on those making over a million per year in today’s dollars, built the interstate highway system, and initiated a Government led program that put America back to work, everyone, including those at the very top benefitted.  The result of this courageous leadership led to the introduction of socialist programs that were designed to rescue ‘we the people’ from the grips of crony capitalism that resulted in the great depression.

This was real courage, unlike the current “frame” being fed to the public about how Paul Ryan is being “courageous” for introducing his austerity leads to prosperity plan.  If successful, Paul Ryan’s plan will result in forced ‘austerity’ measures on all of us in order to continue to pave the “path to prosperity” for those born privileged in America.

Despite the rhetoric coming from the right wing echo chamber, we have elements of both socialism and capitalism in the United States.  When we take our grandmother to see her doctor about health concerns, we are embracing socialism.  When we drive on paved highways to pick up the medication for our grandmother, we are embracing socialism.  When we send our disabled child to a local specialist, we are embracing socialism.  When our parents use their earned benefits from working their entire lives to pay the bills and fund their daily needs, we are embracing socialism.  When we serve in the Military, or care for the wounded veterans who have served our country in the past, we are embracing socialism.

The right wing echo chamber has become so successful at convincing people to fear socialism that many overlook the obvious benefits socialism provides their family members, not to mention those who actively serve in our armed forces.  Many people do not think about socialism in this way.  This is partly due to the lack of effectively communicating the benefits of socialism, not to mention touting the fact that Social Security and Medicare are two of the most successful, efficiently run, and popular socialist programs we have ever had in this country.

We are led to believe that capitalism is good and socialism is bad.  This message is coming primarily from those on the far right, of course, who actually benefit from socialism, at the expense of everyone else. According to David Cay Johnston, corporate socialism is alive and well in the United States (see clip below). The problem is that it only applies to the privileged class, and not the rest of us.  The trick for those born privileged is to privately benefit from socialism, while publicly decrying it as a solution to help the rest of us out of the current economic crisis their immoral tax policies actually created.  In essence, they seek to privatize profits and socialize losses, which amounts to taking from the many and redistributing it to the few, as explained by David Cay Johnston in the clip below.

Our elected representatives have a choice.  They can decide to continue implementing the failed economic policies of the past that have continually led to crisis after crisis, and that only benefit the super-rich, or they can choose the tried and true economic policies that made this country a household name where everyone benefitted equally from the fruits of our labor.  This would require real courage on behalf of our elected leaders to do what’s right!  Not only for the sake of struggling families and putting Americans back to work, but to stimulate our economy and help achieve a happier and healthier society for all.  Since income equality is proven to lead to happier and healthier societies, and income inequality has proven itself to lead to more poverty, crime, stress, anxiety, depression, alcohol and drug addiction, and an overall less happy, and less healthy society, what are our elected representatives waiting for?  If ever there was a blueprint for courage this is it!

If we continue to pursue failed and immoral economic policies that strictly benefit the privileged in this country, then we are forced to inflict severe ‘austerity’ measures on everyone else.   As we can see by the example in Greece, the austerity leads to prosperity approach favored by Paul Ryan and backed by the GOP, is failing miserably.  Why not opt for an America that works together!

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!

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.”

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.

Why Newt Gingrich can’t believe he is not the front-runner for the GOP, especially since he is doing everything right! (to manipulate people, that is)

Newt Gingrich has certainly come a long way since the early 1990’s when he teamed up with Frank “The Liar” Luntz to craft a memo called, “Language: A Key Mechanism of Control“, which he then circulated to every member of the Republican Party.  The primary purpose of this memo was to educate fellow GOP members on how to effectively use language to manipulate voters into supporting legislation that is detrimental to their health and well being.  This is accomplished by “framing” issues that are important to the average voter in such a way that demonizes Democratic proposals, (ie, use of negative language) and praising anything put forth by the GOP (ie, use of positive language).

Since then, Newt Gingrich has learned how to perfect this framing technique, or art of manipulation for many of the key issues affecting our livelihood, including how to secure a job (ship them overseas) educating our children, (no need, just reinstitute child labor laws, and have poor kids clean up after the rich kids) providing healthcare to our family members when they get sick (let the for profit insurance companies can handle it) and ensuring our parents and grandparents are taken care of when they retire (take away our safety net by handing over the Social Security purse strings to the Wall Street casino).

In the process of learning how to better himself when it comes to manipulating the rest of us, Newt Gingrich has also become a natural at deflecting attention from his own immoral acts and redirecting the focus on the issues that he wants us to pay attention to by virtue of “framing” them.   A classic example can be seen in the opening Presidential debate when he was asked about his “open marriage” request with regards to his ex-wife.  His response, taken straight out of the memo was, “I think the destructive vicious negative nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country, harder to attract decent people to run for public office. I’m appalled you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that.”  He cunningly tried to redirect the focus of this reasonable question by using the “liberal media” frame.

Although the issues he “frames” may appear to make sense on the surface, deep down they actually serve to enrich the most privileged members of our society at the expense of everyone else (ie, the people he is framing).  This is why Newt Gingrich is scratching his head wondering why he is not the front-runner of his party.   After all, he is ahead of his time in the sense that he has learned how to successfully use language to manipulate people into thinking we should reinstate child labor laws, end Medicare, dismantle Medicaid and Social Security, and continue to give our hard-earned money in the form of tax cuts to the upper class in the “privileged sector”, who are benefitting at our expense at every turn.   Can you blame him for not wanting to take credit!  In his mind, the ruling elite he his helping to enrich owe him at least a spot in the White House.

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.

 

Why the GOP’s vision for America is a dangerous one! The true source behind Paul Ryan’s nightmare budget

The only way to adequately understand the motivation behind the modern day conservative and the George Orwell Party (GOP) is to become familiar with the vision of Ayn Rand, whose philosophy is largely guiding their actions.   Gary Weiss wrote an article recently about this very subject, entitled, “ The Horrors of an Ayn Rand World: Why We Must Fight for America’s Soul“, in which he discussed what the world would look like if we adopted an Ayn Rand vision for America.

As indicated by Gary Weiss, Ayn Rand’s vision includes a world with NO Social Security, NO Medicare, NO Medicaid, NO public schools, NO public hospitals, NO regulation of any activity that runs counter to one’s self-interest, basically, NO public anything Weiss says, “Just individuals, each looking out for himself, not asking for help or giving help to anyone.”  Thus, the motivation behind the GOP’s actions is based on the philosophy of Ayn Rand and involves a single focus of pursuing one’s immediate self-interest to the detriment of society, the environment, and anyone or anything that gets in the way!

The GOP’s vision is one that is strictly concerned with protecting and enriching members of the “privileged sector”, while the rest of us struggle with the consequences of their immoral actions.  Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett have described in detail, the effects such consequences have on our society as a whole.   Briefly, they include more negative social outcomes for all of “us”, such as high rates of depression, anxiety, drug and alcohol abuse, incarceration rates, decreased levels of trust and community involvement, and of course, dramatic increases in poverty.  This is in contrast to increases in positive social outcomes for a select few of “them”, such as more corporate welfare, increased bonuses, and additional wealth, power, and influence to perpetuate the status quo of income inequality based on the philosophy of pure selfishness above all else!

Those in the top 0.1%, who are born ‘privileged’ want to use tax payer money to benefit themselves and the corporations they run, while claiming “we’re broke” and can’t afford to pay for the sick, the poor and the elderly, or anything else for that matter that uniquely benefits the rest of us, including, but not limited to the following;

–        Hospitals to care for our families when they get sick

–        Schools to educate our children

–        Social safety net for our disabled, elderly and sick populations

–        Environmental and safety protections for (food, air, water)

–        Worker rights, safety standards, livable wages, unemployment insurance

However, since the items mentioned above do not further enrich members of the “privileged sector”, they are “framed” as “entitlement programs” that are contributing to a “welfare state”, or dependency on Government, in order to justify their plan to either completely eliminate, or provide a path to privatization, as can be seen in Paul Ryan’s “path to prosperity” for the top 1% plan.  The frame needed to convince the public to go along with this plan to continue providing welfare for the rich is none other than the standard talking point of Government is inefficient and can’t do anything right.  The logical conclusion of this “Government inefficiency” frame is that the so-called ‘free’ market can do a better job.  Therefore, we should profitize it, so the “privileged sector” can enjoy more wealth at our expense.  (Perhaps, we should start using the word profitize when referring to privatization efforts, since privatization amounts to more profiting at the expense of the people.)  George Lakoff suggests using the term profiteering to refer to the same concept.

It’s important to understand that the various frames being used are intended to misinform and scare the public into supporting radical right wing initiatives (ie, tax policies and budget proposals) like the Paul Ryan immoral budget plan that will devastate our social safety net (eliminate Medicare, ‘profitize’ Social Security), eliminate public education, and get rid of environmental regulations that currently protect the air we breathe in order to contaminate the water supply for millions of people, as well as pollute our lungs and the atmosphere with toxic chemicals (see keystone XL pipeline), all so a select few in the “privileged sector” can reap enormous profits at the expense of the health and well being of the people and the planet in what “they” would like to see as the Divided States of America.

The simple but ugly truth is that Paul Ryan’s budget plan is a realization of Ayn Rand’s vision, which is based on the immoral value of selfishness and greed at the expense of all else.  It should be noted that Paul Ryan was so impressed with the philosophy of Ayn Rand that he attributed his interest and eventual career in politics to her influence.  In fact, it has been reported that Paul Ryan actually instructs his staffers to read the philosophy of Ayn Rand prior to coming to work for him.  His way of litmus testing the help to ensure everyone is on the same unethical page. Unfortunately, for the rest of us, Paul Ryan is desperately trying to make the horrors of an Ayn Rand world into a reality.

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