STOP Framing "us"

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

Archive for the tag “radical Republicans”

Scott Walker and his Billionaire Buddies are Framing us!

Thanks to a loophole in Wisconsin state law, Governor Scott Walker is able to raise unlimited amounts of money from out of state donors in order to bombard Wisconsin voters with a massive misinformation campaign.  Billionaires like the Koch brothers and other special interest groups, such as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) have contributed to over two-thirds of the $25 million dollars Scott Walker has raised in order to spread misinformation about the Governor’s plan to inflict austerity on Wisconsin workers.

The consequences of Scott Walkers’ proposed austerity plan are already being felt, and have led to an overwhelming pushback from those who realize the harm he is trying to inflict on workers in Wisconsin.  Fortunately, a recall effort has been launched with the goal of removing this radical Governor from his position of authority and to to prevent the forced austerity measures that have already contributed to the worst jobs record in the nation.  Since taking office, Governor Scott Walker’s failed austerity plan, currently being embraced on a national scale by Paul Ryan and the rest of the GOP, has led to the most job losses anywhere in the country.  Under Scott Walker’s watch, over 30,000 jobs have been lost in Wisconsin.

This is where the misinformation and framing comes into play.  Scott Walker’s abysmal record of 30,000 job losses is being spun by countless television ads, Fox news appearances, and backing by billionaires to conceal this reality in favor of misinformation that frames Scott Walker as a job-creator, as opposed to a job-cremator.  In this fictional framed version of reality created by billionaires like the Koch brothers, Scott Walker is portrayed as protecting working Americans, and somehow having added the same amount of jobs he actually destroyed.

Another tried and true method used in the billionaire-backed war on workers is to “frame” harmful legislation that will strip away people’s rights as laws that will supposedly protect people from abuses of power.  This “right to work” law being advocated by radical right-wing Governors across the country is purposely designed to fit that frame. In reality, this law will force people to work-for-less and strip away their rights to fight back (ie, collectively bargain) once this occurs.

The National Right to Work Committee, another right wing group backed by ALEC, recently cited a single question from an 18-page survey conducted by Frank “The Liar” Luntz as proof that union workers support “right to work” legislation.  For those who are unaware, Frank Luntz is the consultant/pollster who specializes in the creation and use of deceptive language to convince the general public to vote against their well being by supporting bad legislation.  “Here is the question Luntz’ pollsters asked union members across the country…”

Please tell me whether you strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree or strongly disagree with the following statement: “Workers should have the right to decide whether to join a union. They should never be forced or coerced to join or pay dues to a union as a condition of employment.”  Responses to this single survey question was offered as proof that 80% of union members agree that right-to-work is the best policy.

Wait a minute.  Notice the obvious deception in trying to convince us that “right to work” literally means forcing someone to join a union.  This question is framed in such a way as to practically guarantee the desired response.  Responses are then used to justify implementation of radical legislation that destroys the very rights and freedoms the GOP claims to be protecting.  It is important to note that this survey by Frank “The Liar” Luntz was commissioned by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, whose motto is “Defending America’s workers from the abuses of compulsory unionism since 1968.” With a slogan like this, no wonder they commissioned a professional liar to make sure their biased “facts” fit the frame.

This “right to work” frame will be endlessly repeated via the right wing echo chamber, just like Scott Walker’s abysmal jobs record, to ensure that as many people in Wisconsin as possible hear this distorted version of reality which suits the needs of special interests and billionaires.  If repeated often enough, neuroscience research tells us that many Wisconsin voters will likely reject the facts in favor of the frame, since this is how framing works! For a glimpse of the disastrous effects that work-for-less laws actually have in states where framing efforts were successful, take a look at the research conducted by the Economic Policy Institute.

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.

David Cay Johnston sheds light on two critical “frames” conservatives use to manipulate us: Government “Picking winners and losers” and a “Transfer of wealth.”

David Cay Johnston wrote an article entitled, “Taxed by the boss” where he discussed the implications of the more than 2,700 companies in the Unites States that are keeping the state income taxes they are collecting from hundreds of thousands of workers for themselves.  So, in case you were wondering why states are laying off teachers, firefighters, and police officers, among other drastic cuts to social services that affect millions of people’s lives throughout the country, look no further than the corporate socialism taking place, as pointed out by David Cay Johnston.

To make matter worse, big banks and businesses like Goldman Sachs, J.P Morgan, and Mitt Romney’s former company Bain Capital, are enriching themselves by a process known as “job piracy”, where one state diverts taxes in order to lure an employer from another state to relocate if they promise to create jobs.  The problem is that no jobs are ever created.  Instead, the money is transferred in an upward direction from workers to the corporate bosses in the top 1%, as indicated in the report by the taxpayer watchdog organization, Good Jobs First.  This report also discovered that “deals cut with states over the past two decades diverted $5.5 billion from public purposes to private gain.”  Talk about a transfer of wealth!!

Big businesses are getting away with diverting the taxes they collect from workers to enrich themselves because radical right-wing Governors like Chris Christie, who tops the list, has personally transferred a whopping $251.2 million from average workers to those in the “privileged sector”, who believe they are entitled to it!  No wonder why Chris Christie was being groomed for a spot in the Whitehouse.  He has done the most to enrich the privileged few at the expense of everyone else.  David Cay Johnston calculates that this transfer of wealth amounts to $80 per household in corporate welfare average families are spending to subsidize shareholders of the big banks and large corporations in the United States.

According to David Cay Johnston, “these deals typify corporate socialism, in which business gains are privatized and costs socialized. They also mean that Government picks winners and losers, interfering with competitive markets.” So, it turns out that radical right-wing Governors, in support of an ideology that advocates corporate socialism, are actively “picking winners and losers” (big business is always the winner) which amounts to a “transfer of wealth” from all of us (ie, workers) to a select few of them in the privileged sector (ie, CEO’s and shareholders).

Those of us who watch Fox news or listen to Glenn Beck, or some other radical right-wing talk show host are being framed to believe that Government is “picking winners and losers” in an attempt to benefit lazy people on welfare programs, which serves to create a society of dependency on Government.  Following this logic, believers of this frame are further inclined to believe that a “transfer of wealth” is occurring from the so-called successful people in the top 1% to those who are lazy and don’t want to work hard in order to carry out a socialistic agenda.

The problem with this logic and the rest of the radical right-wing frames is that the opposite of what they say is true!  In this case, Socialism is alive and well in America, as indicated by the Good Jobs First report and David Cay Johnston’s take on this issue.  However, the problem is that it’s only being applied to the top 1% instead of being used to benefit all of us!

The irony here is that the fear of socialism is being used to scare people away from supporting policies and programs that will benefit us all.  A prime example is the current ‘Budget for All being introduced by the progressive caucus in the House of Representatives.  This budget is more in line with our nation’s moral values, and will benefit all of us, as well as help prevent the abuses of power that lead to examples of corporate socialism mentioned above.

As expected, Allen West (R-FL), a conservative member of the tea party, initiated the latest socialism scare by telling people in a town hall recently that there are approximately 80 representatives in the House that are members of the communist party.  Although communism and socialism are not the same, they are used interchangeably as if they were in order to increase the fear effect, I presume, so people will not vote for it!

Unfortunately, if we continue to believe the conservative “frames”, we will never know the benefits that other nations currently enjoy, such as living longer, happier and healthier lives, not to mention being better educated, less stressed, depressed and anxious, as well as having the safety and security of knowing our family members will be taken care of if they get sick, or become disabled for any reason.  All of these benefits are not fantasy, but reflect the reality of countries that adopt moral budget priorities, and implement a system based on socialism for all, not a select few.

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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