●The more budgets are cut and taxes increased, the weaker an economy becomes.
●Until the 99% understand the need for federal deficits, the upper 1% will rule.
●To survive long term, a monetarily non-sovereign government must have a positive balance of payments.
●Austerity = poverty and leads to civil disorder.
●Those, who do not understand the differences between Monetary Sovereignty and monetary non-sovereignty, do not understand economics.
I just saw the results of a poll supposedly answered by 500,000 respondents. (Disclosure: The poll was conducted by a man named Bob Livingston, who says he “is an ultra-conservative American who specializes in health issues such as nutritional supplements and alternatives to drugs.” So, consider the source.)
Most of the questions were worded with a right-wing bias, so the answers are too suspect for inclusion, here. But one caught my attention:
Where do you feel government should most focus to speed economic recovery?
26% voted: Job creation.
14% voted: Tax code overhaul.
42% voted: Reduced government spending.
7% voted: Infrastructure spending.
3% voted: Deficit reduction.
2% voted: New stimulus.
4% voted: Other.
2% voted: Homeowner assistance.
The 99% lower income group seems to believe reductions in federal spending (aka “austerity”) magically will stimulate economic growth, and that Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits, which put spending money directly into consumers’ pockets, somehow reduce economic growth. And, military spending, which pays soldiers’ salaries, and pays thousands of military suppliers to employ millions of Americans, magically increases unemployment.
The 99% believes the federal government should spend less – Less to build and repair our roads, bridges and dams. Less to inspect our food and our medicines. Less to inspect banks and financial brokers. Less to defend America against enemy nations and terrorists.
Less to catch and imprison criminals. Less to create and monitor patents and copyrights. Less to help victims of floods, hurricanes, fires, tornados and earthquakes. Less to pay for our courts. Less to pay for educational services. Less to protect our bank deposits. Less for the Library of Congress and federally supported museums.
Less for disease prevention/cure, research and development. Less for occupational safety. Less for science. Less to preserve national parks. Less airplane control
The list goes on and on. The Tea/Republicans demand “less government.” The media demand a reduction in the federal “deficit.” They tell the 99% this all somehow can be accomplished with “less waste” or some other pie-in-the-sky mantra and the 99% parrot what the media and politicians tell them, not realizing they are demanding to commit economic suicide.
Greece’s awful experience with austerity matches Italy’s, France’s, Ireland’s and the UK’s. So is the problem one of mere stupidity, or is something else at work?
Today’s Chicago Tribune contained an outstanding and quite relevant article titled,
Dumb and dumber, The ‘low-information’ voter, by George Lakoff, professor of cognitive science and linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley.
Here are a few excerpts:
The term (“Low income voters” –LIV) is mainly used by liberals to refer to those who vote conservative against their interests and the best interests of the nation. It assumes they vote that way because they lack sufficient information about issues. The assumption being, of course, that if only they had the real facts, they would vote differently — for both their own best interests and those of the nation.
Liberals tend to attribute the problem in large part to conscious Republican efforts at misinformation — say, on Fox News or talk radio — and in part to faulty information gleaned from friends, family and random sources.
These assumptions come in the form of what cognitive linguists call “frames.” Frame analysis was developed by my colleague at the University of California at Berkeley, the great linguist Charles Fillmore. In the mid-1970s, Fillmore observed that every word, or fixed linguistic expression, is defined relative to a mental structure called a “frame,” which is characterized by a fixed neural circuit in the brain.
This is not just about politics. Imagine telling a Midwestern farmhand who has never heard of acupuncture that his chronic pain can be alleviated by having a doctor stick needles in him. That would probably make about as much sense to him as saying the best way for the government to deal with a huge budget deficit is to spend more money.
Facts must fit existing frame-circuits fixed in the brain if they are to be comprehended. When President Richard Nixon told the American people, “I am not a crook,” most thought of him as a crook. He activated the “crook frame,” with himself in the role of the crook.
This is why attack works a whole lot better than denial. Frames don’t work by formal logic. In logic, negation wipes out what is negated. With frames, negation strengthens what is negated. If you come up to a friend and whisper in his ear out of the blue, “Your wife is not having an affair,” you’re raising the issue of whether his wife is having an affair. Likewise, in saying, “I’m against tax relief,” one is still framing taxation as an affliction to be relieved.
All politics rests on morality. (See: The battle of money is being fought on the field of morality) Political leaders propose policies — whether regulating large banks or loosening deportation laws — because they believe them to be right. The problem, of course, is that conservatives and liberals have different ideas of what is right: from same-sex marriage to machine-gun ownership.
Progressives believe democracy starts with caring about one’s fellow citizens and acting responsibly for oneself and other citizens. Government is seen as a means for the public to provide things crucial for a decent private life and private enterprise: roads, bridges, infrastructure of many kinds, public education, public health, public transportation, a judicial system, firefighters, a patent agency, and so on.
Conservatives see democracy as giving them the liberty to pursue their own interests without necessarily being responsible for the interests of others. They believe in personal, not social, responsibility. Their liberty must be protected, and liberals are trying to take it away by going after their gun rights, private property rights, rights to run their businesses as they choose, and so on.
The liberal use of the term “low-information voters” reveals they need to recognize that conservatives have a moral system that is different from theirs and that they vote on the basis of it.
Second, they need to notice that many liberal Democrats vote on the basis of as little information as the Republicans they are calling LIVs. Third, they need to understand how brains work: If the facts don’t fit morally based frame-circuits, it’s the frame-circuits that stay and the facts that go out the window.
Fourth, liberals who speak of LIVs need to understand that many voters, Democrats as well as Republicans, vote on the basis of values and character rather than policies, material advantages and facts. In short, they vote on the basis of trust — trust in both whom they vote for and the sources of information about whom to vote for.
Cursing conservative low-information voters for not voting for liberal policies is a fool’s errand for all these reasons.
So how do political parties best inform and influence voters who have both moral systems but switch back and forth? The trick is what you’re already seeing on your television: the consistent and repetitive use of language that activates frames and moral systems. Never use the other side’s language. And always say out loud the moral framing needed for comprehending the facts.
For example, healthcare is a matter of freedom and life. If you have cancer and no healthcare, you are not free and you could die! With the right narrative, it is a powerful message, and one that tells a deep truth.
And, like it says on the back of the shampoo bottle — repeat as necessary. Brains don’t change without repetition.
Many who understand Monetary Sovereignty hope people will act in their own best interests – as we see these interests. They hope people want healthcare more than the freedom not to have healthcare. They hope people understand that a federal “deficit” and federal “debt” are not at all like personal deficits and personal debt. They hope it is necessary only show why a federal deficit is required for economic growth and a federal debt isn’t necessary at all.
Those hopes have been misguided. Two years ago, I wrote a post titled Talking past each other. In it, I said:
Those who oppose same-sex marriage focus on what they believe to be religious/moral factors. They quote the Leviticus passage, “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman.” Those who support same-sex marriage focus on what they believe to be legal/moral factors. Many laws grant special privileges to married couples, not offered to unmarrieds. This is felt to be a violation of the 14th Amendment’s, “equal protection clause.”
Although the above is something of an oversimplification, it is impossible for people to agree, when they’re arguing about two different things. More examples:
Israelis and Palestinians may disagree on some facts (“Who was here first? Who fired first?), but fundamentally, the Jews really are talking about the Holocaust and Jewish survival (“Never again”) and the Palestinians really are talking about choice and Palestinian survival (“We have nowhere else to go.”) They are talking past each other.
The pro-lifers are talking about morals (“Do not murder.”) and the pro-choicers are talking about science (“An embryo is not yet a sentient human”) and morals (“Don’t bring an unwanted baby into the world.”) They are talking past each other.
Democrats feel caring for people is good for the economy. Republicans feel caring for the economy is good for people. They are talking past each other, and when people talk past each other, they don’t hear each other.
The 99% will not understand Monetary Sovereignty so long as the 1% pound away using words like “federal deficit” and “federal debt.” Rather than “federal deficit,” we repeatedly should use something like “profit.” A “profit” is what we all receive when the government gives us more dollars than we give the government. Rather than saying the government is running a deficit, we should say the economy is running a profit.
Rather than “federal debt.” call it something like “investments.” The so-called debt merely is the total of T-security accounts – opened for the purpose of investment. Rather than saying the government is in debt, say the government has sold investments.
The author, Professor Lakoff, is right. Monetary Sovereignty must be backed by facts but it cannot be sold with facts alone. It must be framed and it must be repeated. Rather than focusing on government finances, the frame should be personal finances.
The U.S. government has sold $11 trillion worth of investments, and this year, the economy is running a $1.2 trillion profit. Based on the size of our economy, it needs more profit than that to grow. And, to increase profit requires more tax reductions and increased federal spending.
Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
No nation can tax itself into prosperity, nor grow without money growth. Monetary Sovereignty: Cutting federal deficits to grow the economy is like applying leeches to cure anemia. Two key equations in economics:
Federal Deficits – Net Imports = Net Private Savings
Gross Domestic Product = Federal Spending + Private Investment and Consumption + Net exports