STOP Framing "us"

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

Archive for the tag “voting against self-interest”

Why Good People do Bad Things: The Power of Names, Frames and Personality Factors

A recent article in the Business Insider, 27 psychological reasons good people do bad things, illustrates many of the common unethical behaviors experienced by people in our society.  Most people are familiar with the acceptance of small theft (#6) in the workplace, for instance, or the pressure to conform (#27) whenever attempting to ‘fit in’ to an existing peer group.  Others, such as obedience to authority (#12), foot in the door (#16), and the blinding effect of power (#13) tell a somewhat different story.  These psychological characteristics appear to stem from something other than minor unethical hiccups, and may have their root in personality factors, as discussed below.

Knowing these psychological tendencies exist may be useful fun facts to discuss at parties or other social gatherings, but they don’t tell us what we really want to know.  What about deliberate attempts to influence people to (unknowingly) act in an unethical manor, or take an immoral stance on an issue?  Does this happen? If so, who is more susceptible and why?  The power of names (#2) provides some initial insight into answering these questions.

2.  The power of names.  When bribery becomes “greasing the wheels” or accounting fraud becomes “financial engineering,” unethical behavior can seem less bad. The use of nicknames and euphemisms for questionable practices can free them of their moral connotations, making
them seem more acceptable
.

The power of names reveals the use of language can literally change the meaning of something, thus leading one to an immoral choice in behavior.  Beyond nicknames and euphemisms is a more sophisticated technique, known as framing.  In a nutshell, framing involves the deceptive use of language to convince others to support immoral choices.  A “frame” has the ability to not only change the meaning of something, but to literally alter one’s perception of reality.  Unfortunately, far too many people fall victim to the powerful effects of framing, and end up taking stances on issues contrary to their own beliefs! Take the “clear skies” initiative, introduced by GOP politicians under the Bush administration.  The so called “clear skies” plan, “would loosen Clean Air Act standards for most of the nation’s power companies. And it has taken the pressure off companies that violate the law, cutting inspections staff and reducing Fines and criminal charges against polluters.”

Basically, this law allows more harmful and toxic chemicals to be dumped into the atmosphere, polluting our lungs and the air we breathe.  I’m confident no one would knowingly believe this is a good thing, much less openly support such a position when provided the chance to voice their opinion at the polls.  Hence, a frame is intentionally crafted that serves the purpose of convincing people to vote in favor of a policy position that is actually detrimental to their health and well being.  Those on the left side of the political spectrum refer to this phenomenon as “voting against one’s self-interest.”

Now that we know framing occurs, who is responsible, and what motivates an individual or group of people to manipulate others in such a fashion?  The obvious answer is money, but in this case it’s much scarier than that.  The use of framing (ie, deceptive language) has been used recently in politics to advance an ideology that is consistent with the special interests of the ruling elite in this country.  This immoral behavior is being carried out by unethical pollsters and politicians in Washington, who happen to share a similar disposition, known as the authoritarian personality.

Shortly after the atrocities that took place in Nazi Germany, researchers in the field of psychology attempted to understand what led people to openly display such hideous behavior under fascist rule, including increased levels of anti-Semitism and prejudice against the “other.”  The result of this endeavor was a personality syndrome labeled, the authoritarian personality, which was later turned into a book under the same title, written by Adorno, et al. (1950).   Adorno and colleagues discovered that this personality syndrome was characterized by pro-fascist, antidemocratic attitudes, coupled with complete submission to authority figures.

Modern day polls can also be traced to this time period.  Due to the stranglehold widespread propaganda had on certain elements of the population, and the ease at which the repetition of lies led to blind submission to fascist authority, Gallup and others developed polling techniques to assess public perception.  Today, these techniques are being used by unethical pollsters like Frank Luntz, who craft frames, poll test the language, and focus group approve the final product for use by right wing authoritarian (RWA) politicians, and other true believers to manipulate public perception in favor of this authoritarian ideology.

Right wing authoritarian (RWA) is a personality and ideological variable studied in political, social, and personality psychology. Right-wing authoritarians are people who have a degree of willingness to submit to authorities they perceive as established and legitimate, who adhere to social conventions and norms, and who are hostile and punitive in their attitudes towards people who don’t adhere to them.  They value uniformity and are in favour of using group authority, including coercion, to achieve it.”

“Authoritarians are generally more favorable to punishment and control than personal freedom and diversity…they are more likely to advocate strict, punitive sentences for criminals, and report that punishing such people is satisfying for them.  They tend to be ethnocentric and prejudiced against racial and ethnic minorities and homosexuals.

History has already proven what is capable of happening when RWA’s are in positions of power, but what many people may not be aware of is that the modern day GOP are right-wing authoritarians!  Simply take a look at the 2012 GOP party platform.  Many of the personality characteristics mentioned above can be seen in the actions taken by GOP lawmakers.  For a glimpse of how this ideological agenda is being carried out, let’s take a look at a couple of examples.

Radical right wing governors across the country are actively implementing laws to discriminate against minority groups by suppressing their right to vote in the upcoming presidential election.  To get people on board with this radical agenda, the frame “voter fraud” was created.

GOP politicians are passing laws to ship our jobs overseas.  The frame used in this case is “illegal immigrants” are taking our jobs.

GOP politicians are passing laws that force us to work for less, and take away our rights to fight back when our wages and pensions are raided by vulture capitalists like Mitt Romney.  This is being framed as “right to work.”

GOP politicians are implementing laws to control women’s reproductive health, framed as “religious freedom.”

GOP politicians are spending taxpayer money to enrich the super wealthy elite, framed as “tax relief.”  Coincidentally, the funneling of taxpayer money to the richest among us is being framed as using taxpayer money to give to “welfare recipients.”

Perhaps even scarier than the GOP taking total control of our government and convincing people with clever framing to vote against their own interests and well being, is the very future of our planet if these RWA’s continue to gain momentum and firmly implement their dangerous ideology.

“In roleplaying situations, authoritarians tend to seek dominance over others by being competitive and destructive instead of cooperative. In a study by Altemeyer, 68 authoritarians played a three hour simulation of the Earth’s future entitled the Global change game. Unlike a comparison game played by individuals with low RWA scores, which resulted in world peace and widespread international cooperation, the simulation by authoritarians became highly militarized and eventually entered the stage of nuclear war. By the end of the high RWA game, the entire population of the earth was declared dead.[15]

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.

Making the facts fit the frame: Cherry picking biased data to make the claim that union members support “Right to work” legislation.

The National Right to Work Committee, a right wing group, 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 guy who specializes in the creation and use of deceptive language to convince the general public to vote against their self-interest 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.

Hopefully, people can see that this question is framed in such a way as to practically guarantee the desired response.  Responses that are then used to justify the implementation of a radical piece of legislation that will take away the very rights and freedoms the GOP (George Orwell Party) claim to be in favor of protecting.

It is important to point out this survey conducted by Frank “The Liar” Luntz was commissioned by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, who’s motto is “Defending America’s workers from the abuses of compulsory unionism since 1968”

With a slogan like this, no wonder why they commissioned a professional liar to make sure their biased “facts” fit the frame.

Radical right wing groups who conjure up and then use this framed data are trying to convince the rest of us to support “right to work” laws because it will make it illegal to force people to join a union.

Think of how absurd this sounds.  The “right to work” frame claims that it is protecting someone’s right to not join a union.   If someone doesn’t want to work for a union, then they simply will not apply for a union position.  Case closed.  No one is forced to work for a union in this country.  (Hence the need for a frame that says otherwise)

In reality, if “right to work” laws pass, our right to work for a union will be taken away, and “we the people” will not be able to join or form a union to protect ourselves against the abuses of vulture capitalism.  So, when these corporate vultures decide to lower our wages, reduce our benefits, phase out our pension plans, and reduce or eliminate safety standards in the workplace, (all of which are occurring in states that have adopted “right to work” laws), we will be defenseless to stop it!

As can be seen by this chart on the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s website, the radical right wing is winning the war against workers in this country.  The “right to work” frame is being used, along with Frank Luntz’s cherry picked data to systematically take away people’s rights all over the country to join or form unions to protect themselves against the abuses being inflicted upon them in their respective states.

 

 

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