STOP Framing "us"

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

Archive for the tag “privileged class”

“We” make it, “they” take it! Extracting Wealth from American Workers

Productivity in the United States has steadily risen over the past 30 years, and the U.S. continues to be one of the wealthiest nations on earth.  Despite this reality, the vast majority of Americans are not being rewarded for their efforts, and many people are earning less than their parents!  The reason productivity is up is because Americans are working longer and harder than they have in recent memory.  Productivity is thriving, yet worker salaries are dying.

As it turns out, conservative politicians in Washington have vigilantly pursued a set of economic and tax policies over the past 30 years reflecting the theory of trickle-down economics.  Simply put, this theory rests upon the assumption that perpetually lowering taxes on millionaires and billionaires, as well as borrowing money from future generations to give to the wealthiest members of our society will somehow trickle-down to the rest of us.  It’s safe to say that this theory has proven to be a complete and utter failure, and has led to the largest gap in wealth between those at the top (1%) and everyone else (99%) since the great depression.

The consequence of pursuing these policies has resulted in what can clearly be described as ‘wealth extraction’ from our economy.  The privileged class in the top 1% feels entitled to the wealth we all work hard to create, and they have used their power and influence to ensure legislation is passed that permit this to occur.  Evidence for this can be seen in 2010, when this group of wealthy elite claimed nearly all income gain in this country for themselves.  In 2010, the top 1% took in 93% of all income gain in this country.  Essentially, what this means is that America is stuck working harder than ever to create wealth for our nation that the top 1% extracts for their upper class members, while the rest of us struggle to survive on what little remains.

It wasn’t always this way, and more importantly it doesn’t have to be this way moving forward.  During the golden age of capitalism (1945-1975) all Americans in each income group were valued for the contributions they made, and were fairly compensated for their efforts.  Those at the bottom of the economic scale saw their incomes rise just as quickly as those at the top. For the first time in our nations history, millions of families could afford to buy a home, send their kids to college, purchase a new car, and lead relatively comfortable lives.  In short, the middle class was thriving.  During this time period, we all worked together to create wealth for our nation that was adequately shared among us, and fair and progressive tax policies were put in place that prevented the privileged class from extracting wealth from the rest of us.

This all changed when President Ronald Reagan took office.   Instead of embracing what was working for everyone, conservative politicians decided to replace the progressive tax code with tax policies favoring their wealthy elite donors.  As a result, rather than sharing in the wealth America worked together to create, those at the top decided to keep more of the money American workers generated for themselves.  In essence, the implementation of trickle-down economic policies allowed the privileged few to turn America into a we make it, they take it economy.  The wealth extraction underlying the divide between those at the very top and everyone else characterizing the conservative philosophy of we make and they take it has proven to work wonders for those at the top, but not so much for everyone else.

Since the wealth America creates is no longer being shared among us, and workers are no longer valued for their means of production, or paid thriving wages, poverty rates are steadily increasing, the middle class is eroding, more people are dependent upon food stamps and other government assistance to survive, and the most vulnerable populations among us are facing grave consequences each day we continue to adopt these failed and misguided policies.  The behavior of conservative politicians insisting our nation prioritize borrowing money from future generations to give to the super wealthy is not only immoral, but leads to catastrophic consequences for the vast majority of people in order to pave the way for what Vice Presidential hopeful, Paul Ryan calls a path to prosperity for the top 1%.

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.

Mitt Romney literally “frames” President Obama for his own actions of supporting out-dated and failed policies

What would you do if you were running for president and it was becoming clear to voters that all you offered were old ideas, and failed policies, while your opponent was getting traction on his theme of introducing new ideas, and sound policies? Pinning it on the other guy sounds like a good place to start.

In a campaign speech yesterday in Michigan, Mitt Romney literally “framed” President Obama for his own actions of supporting out-dated and demonstrably failed policies.   This was accomplished by the linguistic framing he used when he repeating the word “liberal” in a derogatory fashion several times in relation to our current president.

In fact, judging by the repetition of the L-word, perhaps Mitt Romney’s communication team reached out to the well-known GOP pollster and spinster, Frank Luntz for precise instructions on how to use this language most effectively.  By most effectively, I mean in a way that packs the biggest emotional punch to stir up our emotions and blame the wrong person!

As reported in the Business Insider, here is a snapshot of this framing effort in action.  To illustrate the reality of what is occurring, as opposed to the framed version of reality team Romney is trying to create, I made a side by side comparison reflecting both versions.  This way, the truth behind what Mitt Romney is trying to do becomes clear, provided we are re-direct the frame in order to assign proper blame.

Framed version of reality: “President Obama chose to apply liberal ideas of the past to a 21st century America.  Liberal policies didn’t work then, they haven’t worked over the last four years, and they won’t work in the future. … ”

In Reality: Mitt Romney will choose to apply conservative ideas of the past to a 21st century America.  Conservative policies didn’t work then, they haven’t worked during the eight years of Bush’s presidency, and they won’t work in the future. … ”

Framed version of reality: Old-school liberals saw a problem and thought a government-run program was the answer. Obamacare is the fulfillment of their dreams. …

In Reality: Old-school conservatives saw a problem and thought a corporate-government run alliance was the answer. The Romney loop-hole is the fulfillment of their dreams. …

Framed version of reality: The liberals of the past raised taxes, often with little thought of how they would hurt small business, and the economy. …

In Reality: The conservatives of the past lowered taxes on the super-rich often with little thought of how they would hurt everyone else and the economy. …

Framed version of reality: Old-school liberals envisioned government guiding and providing every need of every citizen. …

In Reality: Old-school conservatives envisioned the corporate-government alliance as guiding and providing every need of the privileged class. …

Liberalism once taught that unions would ensure lasting prosperity for workers. … (This was and still is true today!)

What does it say about the fiction of old conservatism to insist that good jobs and good schools and good wages will result from policies that have failed us, time and again?

It says, we should become aware of framing, and realize whenever we hear Mitt Romney and other GOP members discussing “liberals”, they are really describing themselves!

The deeper meaning behind Jim Demint’s (R-SC) hypocritical vote against the veteran’s jobs bill. HINT: it involves a new twist on an old “frame”.

The VOW to hire heroes Act of 2011, which was part 3 of President Obama’s jobs bill passed the Senate 94-1.  Who was that one person voting against helping our veterans?  The same person seen here in this clip, which he uploaded himself.

Talk about blatant hypocrisy!

More importantly are his comments for why he voted NO on the Vow to Hire Heroes Act.

“I cannot support this tax credit because I do not believe the Government should privilege one American over another when it comes to work”

So, what he is effectively saying (with the help of right-wing think tanks) is that poor, and middle-class veterans (ie, the out-group) are meant to fend for themselves, while he and other Republican legislators focus on protecting and privileging the ‘elite’ class (in-group) that makes up the top 0.1% in society.

This is evident in the rejection of two previous jobs bills by put forth by President Obama by EVERY Republican senator.  The first dealt with putting hundreds of thousands of teachers, firefighters and police officers back to work, and the second bill focused on fixing our crumbling infrastructure.

Both of these bills would have been paid for by raising taxes on income over and above $1 million in annual income.

What class of people makes over $1 million per year?  How many people are included in this ‘elite’ group?  How much was the proposed tax increase on this group?

Would it surprise you to know that the amount of people in this ‘elite’ class, or in-group making over $1 million per year is less than 0.1% of Americans.

The amount being asked of this ‘elite’ group to help our economy recover, create hundreds of thousands of jobs to educate our children and keep us safe is less than 1% on every dollar above and beyond the first $1 million.   Who is the group being privileged here?

Want more proof?  As indicated in a recent PBS article, Democrats told the press that this veteran’s bill would cost $1 billion, and would be paid for by adding a fee for VA home loans.  In essence, veterans themselves would pay for this bill, as opposed to asking those in the top .01% to spare some change.  No wonder Republicans overwhelmingly supported it.

The burden is once again placed squarely on the out-group, while protecting those at the top by not raising taxes a single penny on the privileged in-group.

Since it is obviously unpopular to privilege the ‘elite’ class at the expense of everyone else, specific language must be created, via numerous right-wing think tanks to come up with appropriate Orwellian style frames, so it makes sense to the majority of people.  This way, people are more likely to vote in favor of such a position.

For example, an oldie but goody is the “welfare recipient” frame, or the idea that Government is privileging those on welfare (ie, those who are characterized as sponging off the system). Makes sense right?  Why should we support people that are lazy and who are intentionally living off of the system? This is what makes frames so attractive.  What people do not realize is that the exact opposite is actually true, as indicated above.

The new twist on this old frame is that veterans are now included in this “welfare recipient” frame.

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