Friday, August 12, 2011

From the "U Frame It" Files: Moral Imperatives

Radical right-wingers are really good at framing the debate ("the presentation of political ideas and principles so as to encourage one interpretation over another"), in part because they're good at coming up with catchy, sticky, snarky frames and in part because the right-wing-owned mass-media propaganda machine loves those catchy, sticky, snarky frames and repeats them incessantly until all of us are repeating them without ever giving them a second thought.

So I propose to do just that—give them a second thought—as a now-and-then feature of the Worley Dervish. We'll call them the "U Frame It" files.

Today's installment: entitlements, as in "entitlements are the greatest domestic challenge the nation faces" (straight off the Heritage Foundation's website).

Really? Really? Not joblessness. Not our imperiled economy. Not the rapid disappearance of the middle class. Not our crumbling infrastructure. Not three—count 'em, three—wars. Not poverty. Not homelessness. Not corruption. Not out-of-control military spending. No, "entitlements" are our greatest domestic challenge.

More from the Heritage Foundation website (I'm still cringing from actually having gone there. It feels like I mighta got some on me. Ewwww...): "The middle class retirement programs, Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare, will cause federal spending to jump by half, from the historical average of twenty percent of the economy to thirty percent by 2033. This tsunami of spending is a major threat ..."

"Tsunami of spending." Yowzer. That's truly elegant. And completely twisted.
We must protect the prior earnings of American workers set aside in Social Security or private pensions. They have been earned through hard work and discipline. Taking these earnings away is theft, despite the Right’s use of the word "entitlements." (George Lakoff, emphasis mine)
Calling those programs "entitlements" makes their privatization and the theft that that entails more palatable, much less morally reprehensible than it actually is. It enables greedy, morally reprehensible people to dismantle our democracy for their own profit. It takes us that much further down the road that turns the middle class into feudal serfs.

Medicare, if made available to all Americans, would not only save us money; it would make us, well, healthier. And for many, it would truly be a matter of life and death. Life and health are not "entitlements." The Common Good is not an "entitlement." Life, health, and the Common Good are moral imperatives.

Your mission for today (or this week, or this month), should you choose to accept it, is to read Lakoff's recent column "Why Democracy Is Public." When you're done, read it again. Bookmark it. And then recommend it to everyone you know. It's really, really, really that important.

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