George Lakoff: In Politics, Progressives Need to Frame Their Values

Source: George Lakoff

Author: Truthout interview Mark Karlin

Emphasis Mine

The following is a Truthout interview with Professor George Lakoff about his latest effort, THE ALL NEW Don’t Think of an Elephant!, to convince progressives to “frame” their political language and appeals based on deep-seated and active values. These are positions and actions that most of the public supports, but absent appropriate “framing” often vote their fears instead of progressive beliefs. It is necessary to ground a nurturing politics for the common good and core values in language and a moral foundation that appeals – rhetorically and emotionally – to the better selves of voters.

Mark Karlin: Before we get into the new edition of Don’t Think of an Elephant!, THE ALL NEW Don’t Think of an Elephant!, I wanted to ask you a bit more about something you said to me in a conversation at your home awhile back. You noted that it’s not surprising that Republicans are more persuasive than Democrats because they are more skilled at selling and marketing. Does this also relate to the prevalence of consumer advertising in the US that convinces people to buy things that they don’t need or want?

George Lakoff: The marketing profession uses knowledge about the mind, the brain, language, imagery, emotions, the framing of experiences and products, personal and social identity, and normal modes of thought that lead to action and that change brains over time. Marketing professors in business schools study results in these areas and teach courses on how to market most effectively. Again, they study normal modes of thought – the way people really reason. It would be strange to call such modes of thought “irrational” since they are the forms of reason that we have evolved to get us through life.

In short, marketers take results from my field – cognitive science – the field that does scientific research on real reason, on how people really think. Marketers know very well that most thought is unconscious – the usual estimate is about 98 percent. They use their knowledge of how unconscious thought works. And they know that consumers are not aware of how knowledge of the science of mind is being used to sell them products that often they don’t need or may actually harm them.

Can you talk a little about progressives who are surprised that rational arguments don’t win elections?

Cognitive scientists study how people really think – how brains work, how we get ideas out of neurons, how framing and metaphorical thought work, the link between language and thought, and so on.

But other academic fields have not been using these results, especially, political science, public policy, law, economics, in short, the main areas studied by progressives who go into politics. As a result, they teach an inadequate view of reason and “rationality.” They miss the fact that our brains are structured by hundreds of conceptual metaphors and frames early in life, that we can only understand what our brains allow, and that conservatives and progressives have acquired different brain circuitry with the consequence that their normal modes of reason are different.

What progressives call “rational arguments” are not normal modes of real reason. What counts as a “rational argument” is not the same for progressives and conservatives. And even the meaning of concepts and words may be different. Cognitive linguists have learned a lot about how all this works, but few progressives have studied cognitive linguistics. For a thorough review of such differences, take a look at my book Whose Freedom?, which shows how reasoning about freedom can take two utterly different forms for progressives and conservatives.

You have a section in the ALL NEW Don’t Think of an Elephant! devoted to metaphors of terror. How can progressives successfully respond to a use of fear since 9/11 to manipulate the public? We are seeing the fear factor at work most recently with ISIS and Ebola.

That’s the wrong question. You don’t “respond.” Progressives constantly ask how to “respond” to illegitimate claims by conservatives, whether about fear or anything else. That is because conservatives have an effective communication system and progressives do not, and conservative marketers better understand real reason. To deal with illegitimate fears, you don’t wait till you have to respond. You need (1) to build an effective communication system, (2) to communicate the general progressive value system, (3) repeat the truths that reveal what is right about those values, (4) act with courage to promote the sense of courage, confidence and hope that allows the truth to be meaningful and powerful. Within such a context, one can honestly and openly discuss the facts that undermine such fears, so that the illegitimate fears don’t get established in the first place.

But no such system is in place. What now? Once an illegitimate fear is out there when we really are safe, you need constant repetition of the real situation and congratulations for the administration for making us safe under difficult conditions. This has to be said by many, many people in all kinds of situations, never defensively, never answering conservative charges.

Of course there are real fears – like climate change, dangerous forms of corporate power, real diseases like ebola and governance vacuums that allow barbarous regimes to form. They have to be met by real understanding as they begin to arise, the courage to name them and study them, effective communication and real action. Slogans are not “responses.” Linguistic sniping is not a “response.” There is work for progressives to do, and it can be done.

You have always emphasized that political language must be grounded in moral values. You have a chapter in your book on “freedom issues.” How can progressives reframe the idea of freedom to gain broader electoral support?

Progressives don’t have to reframe freedom. Most Americans have a deep, but unconscious sense of what it is that holds them back, making life hard, treating them unfairly, oppressing their spirits, threatening their futures and creating real pain – in short, what denies them freedom in so many of the realms of life. They may be very different from each other and there may be dozens of them, but they have to all be named as denials of freedom, because they are.

Naming and framing are different. Framing is conceptual, it is about ideas that allow you to understand what you are experiencing. Naming is giving language to those ideas – often ideas you already have, possibly as part of your unconscious brain mechanisms. Naming can make the unconscious conscious.

Democracy is a governing system in which citizens care about their fellow citizens and work through their government to provide public resources for all. In short, in a democracy, the private depends on the public. Businesses depend on public resources: roads, bridges, the interstate highway system, sewers, a water supply, airports and air traffic control, the Federal Reserve, a patent office, public education for your employees, public health, the electric grid, the satellite communications, the internet, and more. Individuals depend on public resources like clean air, clean water, safe food and products, public safety, access to education and health care, housing, employment – as well as everything listed above. Without such public resources, you are not free.

Do you think that Elizabeth Warren does a good job of conveying that, in your words, “the private depends on the public”?

She does it better than anyone else in public life. She sees the truth and has the courage and articulateness to say it out loud and effectively.

The Democratic party right now seems outwardly to stand for nothing in general, just a laundry list of positions. But most Democrats understand that “the private depends on the public,” namely, that public resources for all allow for private freedoms, whether in private enterprise or private life. Republicans talk about freedom all the time, but the Democrats are the real party of freedom and need to say it. The truth of progressive freedoms is part of what we take for granted, so much part of the fabric of our lives that we don’t pay attention to it. Naming it makes you pay so much part of the fabric of our lives that we don’t pay attention to it. Naming it makes you pay attention to it.

Why does it only reinforce the right-wing message to denounce their positions in political ads – and in do so repeating them – rather than affirming positive moral programs and perspectives?

Don’t think of an elephant! You’ll think of an elephant. Negating a frame reinforces the frame, makes it stronger. There are implicit negatives, like “I’m the honest candidate in this campaign.” When you affirm your own positions and speak positively, you undermine the opposition implicitly. When you go on the offensive, you put them on the defensive. If they have to negate your positions, they will be helping to reinforce yours.

Let’s look back on the Obama campaign of hope and change in 2008. Would it be fair to say that he used many of your framing principles in his successful rise from obscurity? However, when he began governing he largely abandoned the underlying values of the framing he had articulated when running for the presidency. How do you react to that assessment, in general?

Obama is complex. On the one hand, I think he had and still has those principles: He spoke of empathy as the most important thing his mother taught him, and I believe he meant it. Yes, I had been writing about it since I published Moral Politics in 1996, but I wrote about it because progressives have it and it is central in our politics.

On the other hand, Obama was clear from the start that, as he said out loud when he was a senator, in order to become a senator and do any worthwhile things, he felt he had to pay attention to the interests of major Illinois industries. That, he said, made him a pragmatist.

Obama is also a rationalist; that is, he has the false theory of human reason that many progressive policymakers have and that he mastered in law school and teaching law. According to classic rationalism, if you just tell people the facts, then by universal logic, people will reason to the right conclusion. For example, the president thought that if the public liked each of the major provisions of his health care bill, they would support the whole bill. They still like each provision. Conservatives never attacked the major provisions. Instead they attacked it on two moral grounds: Freedom (government takeover) and Life (death panels). These are not the same issues so far as our brains are concerned, and morality is more of a determinant of personal identity than the details of insurance. The conservative manipulation of real reason won out over the repetition of insurance provisions. Yes, the provisions work. And so does the conservative moral framing.

On the one side, Obama and other Dems are hemmed in by a false theory of human reason. On the other side, they are trapped by an overwhelming force: the consultant army, the infrastructure of PR firms, pollsters, consultants, etc.

Polls impose artificial bell curves that suggest that there is unified “middle,” that most voters are there, and that the Democratic candidates need move to the right, and if the president polls badly, then the candidates should dissociate themselves from him. These strategies and others are self-defeating. Yet the candidates, the elected officials, the party members, and the media have all become dependent on the consultant army. They accept the need for: (1) the pollsters to segment the populations and decide who to target with what list of issues, (2) PR firms to create talking points and make ads, and (3) opposition researchers to attack and negate what the other side says.

I suspect that Obama has been trapped a number of times by the consultant infrastructure that advised him to go against his principles, supposedly to gain political support. It was predictable that it could not work and it didn’t. For details, see my Truthout piece from Nov. 6, 2014. Change is possible, but harder now.

What are some frames to counter “government by corporation”?

Again, it is a matter of naming a single truth: Corporations govern your life in many, many ways for their benefit, not yours. Name what people already experience and resent for good reason. How do corporations govern your life for their benefit, not yours?

Start with your health insurance company and your internet and cell phone providers. Continue with all the times you call for customer service, get a robot voice, have to press a bunch of buttons, and then wait on the phone for half an hour to an hour – or be directed to a website, where you have to spend lots of your time. You are working for the corporation – when you spend your time, the company saves money on hiring human beings and makes more profit. You are contributing to their profit with your time, which is part of your life, and hardly a pleasant part.

Oil companies – our wealthiest corporations – are destroying the planet for their short-term profit. Corporations govern your life by putting hidden carcinogens and other poisons in your food, cosmetics, furniture, etc. for their profit, not your health. For details, go to ewg.org. These are facts. In isolation, one-by-one, they are just a laundry list. Isolated facts don’t help. Together they tell a truth: Corporations govern your life for their profit not yours, in all those ways. Name it. Repeat it. We need reform at the deepest level.

You write, “remember that voters vote their identity and their values, which need not coincide with their self-interest.” I remember writing a commentary on a poor congressional district, let’s say about 98 percent white, in Kentucky. Most of the residents were on food stamps, Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid – or all of them. However, they have voted in recent elections by landslide majorities to re-elect a congressman who opposes food stamps and supports cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Can you elaborate on how this can occur?

A single moral worldview dominates conservative policies in every domain of life – family, personal identity, sex, religion, sports, education, the market, foreign policy and politics – what I’ve called strict father morality. Your moral worldview is central to how you understand your life.

In a strict father family, the father is in charge and is assumed to know right from wrong, to have moral as well as physical authority. He is supposed to protect the family, support the family, set the rules, enforce the rules, maintain respect, govern sexuality and reproduction, and teach his kids right from wrong, that is, to grow up with the same moral system. His word defines what is right and is law; no backtalk. Disobedience is punished, painfully, so that children learn not to disobey. Via physical discipline, they learn internal discipline, which is how they become moral beings. With discipline they can become prosperous.

If you are not prosperous, you are not disciplined enough, not taking enough personal responsibility and deserve your poverty. At the center is the principle of personal responsibility and moral hierarchy: those who are more moral (in this sense of morality) should rule: God over man, man over nature, parents over children, the rich over the poor, Western culture over non-Western culture, America over other countries, men over women, straights over gays, Christians over non-Christians, etc.

On conservative religion, God is a strict father; in sports, coaches are strict with their athletes; in classrooms, teachers should be strict with students; in business, employers rule over employees; in the market, the market should decide – the market itself is the strict father, deciding that those who have financial discipline deserve their wealth, and others deserve their poverty; and in politics, this moral system itself should rule.

Conservatives can be poor, but they can still be kings in their own castles – strict fathers at home, in their personal identity: in their religion, in their sex lives, in the sports they love. Poor conservatives vote their identity as conservatives, not their lack of material wealth.

One of your last chapters is on how individuals can respond to conservatives. What are some key strategies?

Not everyone functions with just one worldview in every aspect of life. Many, if not most, people are primarily either strict or nurturant, but partly the other in some areas of life. I call them bi-conceptuals, since they have in their brains both worldviews – each inhibiting the other – and applying those worldviews to different ranges of issues. With respect to political issues, those who are mostly one, but partly the other, are called “moderates.” But there is no one shared moral or political ideology of the moderate. Moderates differ on what they are moderate about and what their primary worldview is.

The existence of bi-conceptuals is hopeful. Conservatives who hold some progressive policies that are governed by the nurturant worldview, can have that nurturant worldview appealed to and strengthened. But that requires hearing progressive language and thinking progressive thoughts that will strengthen the progressive worldview already there in his or her brain.

In personal interactions, as over the Thanksgiving table with conservative relatives or in your social or business life with colleagues and coworkers, the first thing to realize is that, for the most part, conservatives believe deeply that they are morally right, that they and other conservatives are operating from the right moral principles. They don’t believe that they are immoral, and they don’t believe that right and wrong don’t matter. As moral beings, they want to be treated with respect. And in personal relationships, respect is appropriate.

The question is whether they are bi-conceptual, whether they have partly progressive values. So turn the conversation to an issue defined by nurturance: What have you done, or are you doing, that helps other people or helps your community? What makes you feel good about it? And so on. If there is nurturance there, bring it out and magnify it, and respect it. Try to keep conversation focused on such issues. Don’t try to argue against their conservative positions, and certainly not in their language. Listen. Be patient.

If you must discuss political differences, just be positive, starting with your values and with how you understand freedom and how it arises from citizens working together to provide public resources for everyone. Use your language, not theirs. Stay respectful.

In conclusion, I would like to add something for my fellow Truthout readers. There are deep truths that are known about how brains work, how our unconscious minds work, and the effect of language on the mind and brain. Those are vital truths, because only by mastering and using them can you avoid the traps of laundry list truths, truths that don’t add up to the communication of general progressive values, truths that have given us a Democratic Party that seems not to stand for any overriding value. Lists of truths that are not made meaningful by values are destined to be ignored. Make truths matter. Wed truths to values.

see: http://georgelakoff.com/2014/11/29/george-lakoff-in-politics-progressives-need-to-frame-their-values/

Give Karl Marx a Chance to Save the World Economy: George Magnus

s he wrote in “Das Kapital,” companies’ pursuit of profits and productivity would naturally lead them to need fewer and fewer workers, creating an “industrial reserve army” of the poor and unemployed: “Accumulation of wealth at one pole is, therefore, at the same time accumulation of misery.”

Karl Marx and the World Economy

By George Magnus

Policy makers struggling to understand the barrage of financial panics, protests and other ills afflicting the world would do well to study the works of a long-dead economist: Karl Marx. The sooner they recognize we’re facing a once-in-a-lifetime crisis of capitalism, the better equipped they will be to manage a way out of it.

The spirit of Marx, who is buried in a cemetery close to where I live in north London, has risen from the grave amid the financial crisis and subsequent economic slump. The wily philosopher’s analysis of capitalism had a lot of flaws, but today’s global economy bears some uncanny resemblances to the conditions he foresaw.

Consider, for example, Marx’s prediction of how the inherent conflict between capital and labor would manifest itself. As he wrote in “Das Kapital,” companies’ pursuit of profits and productivity would naturally lead them to need fewer and fewer workers, creating an “industrial reserve army” of the poor and unemployed: “Accumulation of wealth at one pole is, therefore, at the same time accumulation of misery.”

The process he describes is visible throughout the developed world, particularly in the U.S. Companies’ efforts to cut costs and avoid hiring have boosted U.S. corporate profits as a share of total economic output to the highest level in more than six decades, while the unemployment rate stands at 9.1 percent and real wages are stagnant.

U.S. income inequality, meanwhile, is by some measures close to its highest level since the 1920s. Before 2008, the income disparity was obscured by factors such as easy credit, which allowed poor households to enjoy a more affluent lifestyle. Now the problem is coming home to roost.

Over-Production Paradox

Marx also pointed out the paradox of over-production and under-consumption: The more people are relegated to poverty, the less they will be able to consume all the goods and services companies produce. When one company cuts costs to boost earnings, it’s smart, but when they all do, they undermine the income formation and effective demand on which they rely for revenues and profits.

This problem, too, is evident in today’s developed world. We have a substantial capacity to produce, but in the middle- and lower-income cohorts, we find widespread financial insecurity and low consumption rates. The result is visible in the U.S., where new housing construction and automobile sales remain about 75% and 30% below their 2006 peaks, respectively.

As Marx put it in Kapital: “The ultimate reason for all real crises always remains the poverty and restricted consumption of the masses.”

Addressing the Crisis

So how do we address this crisis? To put Marx’s spirit back in the box, policy makers have to place jobs at the top of the economic agenda, and consider other unorthodox measures. The crisis isn’t temporary, and it certainly won’t be cured by the ideological passion for government austerity.

Here are five major planks of a strategy whose time, sadly, has not yet come.

First, we have to sustain aggregate demand and income growth, or else we could fall into a debt trap along with serious social consequences. Governments that don’t face an imminent debt crisis — including the U.S., Germany and the U.K. — must make employment creation the litmus test of policy. In the U.S., the employment-to-population ratio is now as low as in the 1980s. Measures of underemployment almost everywhere are at record highs. Cutting employer payroll taxes and creating fiscal incentives to encourage companies to hire people and invest would do for a start.

Lighten the Burden

Second, to lighten the household debt burden, new steps should allow eligible households to restructure mortgage debt, or swap some debt forgiveness for future payments to lenders out of any home price appreciation.

Third, to improve the functionality of the credit system, well-capitalized and well-structured banks should be allowed some temporary capital adequacy relief to try to get new credit flowing to small companies, especially. Governments and central banks could engage in direct spending on or indirect financing of national investment or infrastructure programs.

Fourth, to ease the sovereign debt burden in the euro zone, European creditors have to extend the lower interest rates and longer payment terms recently proposed for Greece. If jointly guaranteed euro bonds are a bridge too far, Germany has to champion an urgent recapitalization of banks to help absorb inevitable losses through a vastly enlarged European Financial Stability Facility — a sine qua non to solve the bond market crisis at least.

Build Defenses

Fifth, to build defenses against the risk of falling into deflation and stagnation, central banks should look beyond bond- buying programs, and instead target a growth rate of nominal economic output. This would allow a temporary period of moderately higher inflation that could push inflation-adjusted interest rates well below zero and facilitate a lowering of debt burdens.

We can’t know how these proposals might work out, or what their unintended consequences might be. But the policy status quo isn’t acceptable, either. It could turn the U.S. into a more unstable version of Japan, and fracture the euro zone with unknowable political consequences. By 2013, the crisis of Western capitalism could easily spill over to China, but that’s another subject.”

(George Magnus is senior economic adviser at UBS and author of “Uprising: Will Emerging Markets Shape or Shake the World Economy?” The opinions expressed are his own.)

To contact the Bloomberg View editorial board: view@bloomberg.net.

emphasis mine

see:http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-08-29/give-marx-a-chance-to-save-the-world-economy-commentary-by-george-magnus.html

We’re Not in Lake Wobegon Anymore

“I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.” Republicans: The No.1 reason the rest of the world thinks we’re deaf, dumb and dangerous.

Written in 2004.

How did the Party of Lincoln and Liberty transmogrify into the party of Newt Gingrich’s evil spawn and their Etch-A-Sketch president, a dull and rigid man, whose philosophy is a jumble of badly sutured body parts trying to walk?

By GARRISON KEILLOR

Something has gone seriously haywire with the Republican Party. Once, it was the party of pragmatic Main Street businessmen in steel-rimmed spectacles who decried profligacy and waste, were devoted to their communities and supported the sort of prosperity that raises all ships. They were good-hearted people who vanquished the gnarlier elements of their party, the paranoid Roosevelt-haters, the flat Earthers and Prohibitionists, the antipapist antiforeigner element. The genial Eisenhower was their man, a genuine American hero of D-Day, who made it OK for reasonable people to vote Republican. He brought the Korean War to a stalemate, produced the Interstate Highway System, declined to rescue the French colonial army in Vietnam, and gave us a period of peace and prosperity, in which (oddly) American arts and letters flourished and higher education burgeoned—and there was a degree of plain decency in the country. Fifties Republicans were giants compared to today’s. Richard Nixon was the last Republican leader to feel a Christian obligation toward the poor.

In the years between Nixon and Newt Gingrich, the party migrated southward down the Twisting Trail of Rhetoric and sneered at the idea of public service and became the Scourge of Liberalism, the Great Crusade Against the Sixties, the Death Star of Government, a gang of pirates that diverted and fascinated the media by their sheer chutzpah, such as the misty-eyed flag-waving of Ronald Reagan who, while George McGovern flew bombers in World War II, took a pass and made training films in Long Beach. The Nixon moderate vanished like the passenger pigeon, purged by a legion of angry white men who rose to power on pure punk politics. “Bipartisanship is another term of date rape,” says Grover Norquist, the Sid Vicious of the GOP. “I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.” The boy has Oedipal problems and government is his daddy.

The party of Lincoln and Liberty was transmogrified into the party of hairy-backed swamp developers and corporate shills, faith-based economists, fundamentalist bullies with Bibles, shriekChristians of convenience, freelance racists, misanthropic frat boys, shreiking midgets of AM radio, tax cheats, nihilists in golf pants, brownshirts in pinstripes, sweatshop tycoons, hacks, fakirs, aggressive dorks, Lamborghini libertarians, people who believe Neil Armstrong’s moonwalk was filmed in Roswell, New Mexico, little honkers out to diminish the rest of us, Newt’s evil spawn and their Etch-A-Sketch president, a dull and rigid man suspicious of the free flow of information and of secular institutions, whose philosophy is a jumble of badly sutured body parts trying to walk. Republicans: The No.1 reason the rest of the world thinks we’re deaf, dumb and dangerous.

Rich ironies abound! Lies pop up like toadstools in the forest! Wild swine crowd round the public trough! Outrageous gerrymandering! Pocket lining on a massive scale! Paid lobbyists sit in committee rooms and write legislation to alleviate the suffering of billionaires! Hypocrisies shine like cat turds in the moonlight! O Mark Twain, where art thou at this hour? Arise and behold the Gilded Age reincarnated gaudier than ever, upholding great wealth as the sure sign of Divine Grace.

Here in 2004, George W. Bush is running for reelection on a platform of tragedy—the single greatest failure of national defense in our history, the attacks of 9/11 in which 19 men with box cutters put this nation into a tailspin, a failure the details of which the White House fought to keep secret even as it ran the country into hock up to the hubcaps, thanks to generous tax cuts for the well-fixed, hoping to lead us into a box canyon of debt that will render government impotent, even as we engage in a war against a small country that was undertaken for the president’s personal satisfaction but sold to the American public on the basis of brazen misinformation, a war whose purpose is to distract us from an enormous transfer of wealth taking place in this country, flowing upward, and the deception is working beautifully.

The concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the few is the death knell of democracy. No republic in the history of humanity has survived this. The election of 2004 will say something about what happens to ours. The omens are not good.

Our beloved land has been fogged with fear—fear, the greatest political strategy ever. An ominous silence, distant sirens, a drumbeat of whispered warnings and alarms to keep the public uneasy and silence the opposition. And in a time of vague fear, you can appoint bullet-brained judges, strip the bark off the Constitution, eviscerate federal regulatory agencies, bring public education to a standstill, stupefy the press, lavish gorgeous tax breaks on the rich.

There is a stink drifting through this election year. It isn’t the Florida recount or the Supreme Court decision. No, it’s 9/11 that we keep coming back to. It wasn’t the “end of innocence,” or a turning point in our history, or a cosmic occurrence, it was an event, a lapse of security. And patriotism shouldn’t prevent people from asking hard questions of the man who was purportedly in charge of national security at the time.

Whenever I think of those New Yorkers hurrying along Park Place or getting off the No.1 Broadway local, hustling toward their office on the 90th floor, the morning paper under their arms, I think of that non-reader George W. Bush and how he hopes to exploit those people with a little economic uptick, maybe the capture of Osama, cruise to victory in November and proceed to get some serious nation-changing done in his second term.

This year, as in the past, Republicans will portray us Democrats as embittered academics, desiccated Unitarians, whacked-out hippies and communards, people who talk to telephone poles, the party of the Deadheads. They will wave enormous flags and wow over and over the footage of firemen in the wreckage of the World Trade Center and bodies being carried out and they will lie about their economic policies with astonishing enthusiasm.

The Union is what needs defending this year. Government of Enron and by Halliburton and for the Southern Baptists is not the same as what Lincoln spoke of. This gang of Pithecanthropus Republicanii has humbugged us to death on terrorism and tax cuts for the comfy and school prayer and flag burning and claimed the right to know what books we read and to dump their sewage upstream from the town and clear-cut the forests and gut the IRS and mark up the constitution on behalf of intolerance and promote the corporate takeover of the public airwaves and to hell with anybody who opposes them.

This is a great country, and it wasn’t made so by angry people. We have a sacred duty to bequeath it to our grandchildren in better shape than however we found it. We have a long way to go and we’re not getting any younger.

Dante said that the hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who in time of crisis remain neutral, so I have spoken my piece, and thank you, dear reader. It’s a beautiful world, rain or shine, and there is more to life than winning.

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Garrison Keillor is the host and writer of A Prairie Home Companion, now in its 34th year on the air and a syndicated newspaper columnist.

Emphasis Mine.

see:http://readersupportednews.org/off-site-opinion-section/72-72/7193-were-not-in-lake-wobegon-anymore

5 Reasons Capitalism Has Failed

The root cause of our recent turmoil is the failure of the dominant economic paradigm — global corporate capitalism.

By Bob Burnett, The Smirking Chimp, via AlterNet

(N.B.: Marx was right, after all…)

We live in interesting times. The global economy is splintering. U.S. voters hate all politicians and there’s political unrest throughout the world. The root cause of this turmoil is the failure of the dominant economic paradigm — global corporate capitalism.

The modern world is ruled by multinational corporations and governed by a capitalistic ideology that believes: Corporations are a special breed of people, motivated solely by self-interest. Corporations seek to maximize return on capital by leveraging productivity and paying the least possible amount for taxes and labor. Corporate executives pledge allegiance to their directors and shareholders. The dominant corporate perspective is short term, the current financial quarter, and the dominant corporate ethic is greed, doing whatever it takes to maximize profit.

Five factors are responsible for the failure of global corporate capitalism. First, global corporations are too big. We’re living in the age of corporate dinosaurs. (The largest multinational is JP Morgan Chase with assets of $2 Trillion, 240,000 employees, and offices in 100 countries.) The original dinosaurs perished because their huge bodies possessed tiny brains. Modern dinosaurs are failing because their massive bureaucracies possess miniscule hearts.

Since the Reagan era global corporations have followed the path of least resistance to profit; they’ve swallowed up their competitors and created monopolies, which have produced humongous bureaucracies. In the short-term, scale helps corporations grow profitable, but in the long-term it makes them inflexible and difficult to manage. Gigantism creates a culture where workers are encouraged to take enormous risks in order to create greater profits; it’s based upon the notion that the corporation is “too big to fail.”

Second, global corporations disdain civil society. They’ve created a culture of organizational narcissism, where workers pledge allegiance to the enterprise. Corporate employees live in a bubble, where they log obscene hours and then vacation with their co-workers. Multinationals develop their own code of ethics and worldview separate from that of any national state. Corporate executives don’t care about the success or failure of any particular country, only the growth and profitability of their global corporation. (Many large corporations pay no U.S. income tax; in 2009 Exxon Mobil actually got a $156 M rebate.)

Third, global corporations are modern outlaws, living outside the law. There is noinvisible hand that regulates multinationals. In 1759 Philosopher Adam Smith argued that while wealthy individuals and corporations were motivated by self interest, an “invisible hand” was operating in the background ensuring that capitalist activities ultimately benefited society. In modern times this concept became the basis for the pronouncements of the Chicago School of Economics that markets were inherently self regulating. However, the last five years have demonstrated that there is no “invisible hand”unregulated markets have spelled disaster for the average person. The “recovery” of 2009-10 ensured that “too big to fail” institutions would survive and the rich would continue to be rich. Meanwhile millions of good jobs were either eliminated or replaced by low-wage jobs with poor or no benefits.

Fourth, global corporations are ruining our natural capital. Four of the top 10 multinational corporations are energy companies, with Exxon Mobil leading the list. But there are many indications that our oil reserves are gone. Meanwhile, other forms of natural capital have been depleted — arable land, water, minerals, forests, fish, and so forth. Multinational corporations have treated the environment as a free resource. When the timberlands of North America began to be depleted, lumber corporations moved to South America and then Asia. Now, the “easy pickings” are gone. Global corporations have ravished the world and citizens of every nation live with the consequences: dirty air, foul water, and pollution of every sort.

Fifth, global corporations have angered the world community. The world GDP is $63 Trillion but multinational corporations garner a disproportionate share — with banks accounting for an estimated $4 trillion (bank assets are $100 trillion). Global black markets make $2 trillion — illegal drugs account for at least $300 billion. In many parts of the world, a worker is not able to earn a living wage, have a bank account or drive a car, but can always obtain drugs, sex, and weapons. And while the world may not be one big village in terms of lifestyle, it shares an image of “the good life” that’s proffered in movies, TV, and the Internet. That’s what teenagers in Afghanistan have in common with teenagers in England; they’ve been fed the same image of success in the global community and they know it’s inaccessible. They are angry and, ultimately, their anger has the same target — multinational corporations (and the governments that support them).

We live in interesting times. The good news is we’re witnessing the failure of global corporate capitalism. The bad news is we don’t know what will replace it.”

(N.B.: Perhaps we do – see peoplesworld.org)

Bob Burnett is a writer and activist in Berkeley, Calif.

Emphasis Mine

see:http://www.alternet.org/story/152118/5_reasons_capitalism_has_failed?page=entire

I still support our President.

Jacob S. Hacker is the Stanley B. Resor Professor of Political Science at Yale University.

From the New Republic:”…Since the first campaign for publicly guaranteed health insurance in the early twentieth century, opportunities for serious health reform have come only rarely and fleetingly. If this opportunity passes, it will be very long before the chance arrives again. Many Americans will be gravely hurt by the delay. The most progressive president of my generation–the generation that came of age in the anti-government shadow of Ronald Reagan–will be handed a crippling loss. The party he leads will be branded as unable to govern….

The public option was always a means to an end: real competition for insurers, an alternative for consumers to existing private plans that does not deny needed care or shift risks onto the vulnerable, the ability to provide affordable coverage over time. I thought it was the best means within our political grasp. It lay just beyond that grasp. Yet its demise–in this round–does not diminish the immediate necessity of those larger aims. And even without the public option, the bill that Congress passes and the President signs could move us substantially toward those goals.

As weak as it is in numerous areas, the Senate bill contains three vital reforms.

First, it creates a new framework, the “exchange,” through which people who lack secure workplace coverage can obtain the same kind of group health insurance that workers in large companies take for granted.  Second, it makes available hundreds of billions in federal help to allow people to buy coverage through the exchanges and through an expanded Medicaid program. Third, it places new regulations on private insurers that, if properly enforced, will reduce insurers’ ability to discriminate against the sick and to undermine the health security of Americans.

These are signal achievements, and they all would have been politically unthinkable just a few years ago….So a bill must pass. Yet it must be a better bill that passes. And  it must be understood by the President, the Congress and every American as only a step–an important but ultimately incomplete step–toward the vital goal that the campaign for the public option embodied: good affordable health care for every American.”

(Emphasis mine)

see: http://www.tnr.com/blog/the-treatment/why-i-still-believe-bill

We also remember

On Memorial Day we may remember not only those who have served in the armed forces, but also the many others who have worked for – and in some cases given their lives for – progress,   social and economic justice, and democracy:

Rosa Parks

Martin King

Abraham Lincoln

James Chaney

AndrewGoodman

Michael Schwerner

Eugene Debs

Francis Perkins

Margaret Sanger

Haymarket Martyrs

Cesar Chavez

Harvey Milk

Susan B. Anthony

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Victims of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire,

and many others…

(N.B.: Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner were killed while registering voters in Philidelphia Miss., which is where Regan launched his 1980 campaign.)

This side now…

Having been persona non grata since the late (19) 60’s, it is a refreshing change for us to be on top.  I don’t have much data on how conservative R’s felt in 1933-40, but I do know how they appear to feel now:

o Still think the destruction and failure that began on Jan 20, 1981 was progress.

o Still operate under the delusion that they are on top.

o Think that taxes are the root of all evil.

Let’s hope that they stay on this message!