STOP Framing "us"

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

Archive for the tag “top .1%”

“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.

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!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

 

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.

Two visions for America: One Progressive the other regressive. Which path will our elected representatives choose?

In reference to the choices we make today that will decide the fate of our nation tomorrow, Jim Wallis mentioned in a recent article, the choice Paul Ryan and members of the GOP have made, (which they are calling a “path to prosperity”) is really a choice to hurt people who don’t have the political clout to defend themselves.  In addition to not paying down the deficit, which is what the GOP claims, or should I say “frames” their budget plan does in order to convince people to support it, Wallis notes, “Two-thirds of the long term budget cuts that Ryan proposed are directed at modest and low-income people, as well as the poorest of the poor at home and abroad.”

He states that, “Cuts of this magnitude for people of modest and low-incomes will result in a direct increase of poverty and misery in America.”  This is what happens when we pursue economic growth at all costs, which is proven to only benefit a select few at the top at the expense of the health and well being of everyone else, including the planet!

This regressive vision for America the GOP chooses to embrace will allow those at the very top to prosper, while everyone else slowly sinks into poverty and despair.  This is evident in the massive transfer of wealth from all of “us” to a select few of “them” Paul Ryan’s “path to prosperity” for the super-rich plan will generate.

As pointed out by Jim Wallis, “In dramatic contrast, Ryan has chosen to help the people who need help the least. Wealthy individuals and companies reap a windfall of benefits in Ryan’s plan — with tax cuts and breaks, continued subsidies and loopholes for every powerful special interest, and increased corporate welfare payments from the government.”

As you can see, the only prosperity being achieved is for the already affluent and super-wealthy in the top 1%, who use members of the GOP to advance their radical agenda by passing laws to the detriment of ‘we the people’ in order to continue to re-distribute wealth up by showering the “privileged sector” with corporate welfare (ie, more of our tax dollars).

The actions of the GOP mentioned above represent a regressive vision for America, which ultimately leads to further pieces of radical legislation being introduced, not to mention the proposal of immoral budget priorities like the Paul Ryan plan that serves to perpetuate the status quo of income inequality, which amounts to further austerity for all of “us” in order to provide continued prosperity for a select few of “them.”

In opposition to Paul Ryan’s immoral budget priorities and regressive vision for America, the Progressive caucus in the House of Representatives put forth their own plan last week.  This moral budget, called the ‘Budget for All’, represents a progressive vision for America, which puts an end to the corporate welfare the “privileged sector” feels entitled to receive, and focuses on improving the livelihood of the vast majority of the population.  The Budget for All plan focuses on putting Americans back to work, as opposed to putting the burden on the backs of Americans.  The Budget for All reduces the deficit by focusing on the true cause of our deficit and rising debt levels, (ie, the transfer of wealth that is taking place from all of us to a select few of them).  This transfer of wealth is primarily occurring in the form of unsustainable tax cuts for the super-rich, out of control military and war spending, and many other types of corporate welfare to sustain the high society, upper class lifestyle the richest among us have become accustom to.

Amazingly, this progressive vision for America was shot down in the House of Representatives in a 346-78 vote, while the regressive, immoral budget plan passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 235-189.

Now what?

Paul Ryan’s “Path to prosperity” for the upper class is being paved by a “path to poverty” for the rest of us.

Paul Ryan and members of the GOP recently released their budget plan for America.  They are referring to this plan as a “path to prosperity.”  What they really mean is a “path to poverty” for everyone who is not in the top 1%.  After all, in the land of George Orwell, the “path to prosperity” can only mean one thing, it’s opposite, or a “path to poverty.”

This “path to poverty”, or GOP inflected austerity, is destructive to the working poor and middle class in this country, since it transfers wealth from all of “us” to a select few of “them” primarily by eliminating our social safety net.   This is accomplished by taking away guaranteed benefits currently being provided to protect the most vulnerable among us, including the poor, sick, disabled, and elderly populations, in order to give guaranteed benefits to the wealthiest among us, by permanently extending the Bush tax cuts for instance, which will add trillions more to a deficit “they” continue to pile on the backs of everyone else.

The irony is that the George Orwell Party has already “framed” the issue of taking from one group to give to another in their often-repeated “transfer of wealth” frame.  The radical right wing constantly repeats this Orwellian frame to convince the rest of us that Liberal Democrats are somehow taking from the rich to give to the poor.  In reality, the Paul Ryan budget plan and the rest of the GOP is in favor of what you would call Robin Hood in reverse, since their agenda is all about taking from the poor and middle class in order to protect and enrich the upper class.

Interestingly, the GOP’s plan for the money that will be generated by making drastic cuts to vital services affecting the working poor and middle class, such as ending Medicare, and handing over the Social Security trust fund ($2.6 Trillion) to the Wall Street Casino, will not be used to pay down the deficit, but rather to further pave the “path to prosperity” for a select few.  In this sense, Paul Ryan and members of the GOP are not necessarily lying when they say their budget will create a “path to prosperity”, they just left out the part about who will prosper and at who’s expense.

In order to get people on board with taking away guaranteed benefits that have been enormously popular ever since they were first enacted to protect the people from the abuses of the “privileged sector” in the past, the GOP must hide their true intentions by using positive sounding language when describing their budget plan and vision for America, and negative sounding language when describing anything that conflicts with their agenda.  It really is that simple!

In line with the memo Newt Gingrich crafted with the help of Frank Luntz, the GOP is using language such as “save” and “strengthen” in relation to Social Security and Medicare to present the illusion of being in favor of these programs.  In reality, the GOP is adamantly opposed to our social safety net, and regularly refers to such programs that benefit disabled children, the elderly, and the working poor, as “entitlement programs” that should be eliminated.  So, why should we believe Paul Ryan or any other Republican politician in Washington who claim they are in favor of helping our senior citizens, disabled children, and those who are trying to survive on non-livable wages?  The short answer is that we shouldn’t.

 

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