Definition- Whenever someone claims to “cut” taxes this is actually what they are doing. Society has chosen the public services it wants, and are expected, rarely are these services actually reduced. Instead the people who pay for them changes when taxes are “cut”. The last 35 years is an excellent example. The wealthiest people used to pay a large portion on their income in taxes, capital gains taxes, or estate taxes. Now the burden of taxes has shifted towards; higher Social Security taxes, higher sales taxes, higher fees for public amenities, higher tuition for schools, higher rents (moving much faster than inflation), higher medical bills (until recently with the ACA helping to lower medical bills for the middle class), higher interest rates and late fees on credit cards, higher fees and penalties for violations (traffic, petty or felony). Of course the former all affect the upper income while the latter all effect the lower and middle-income. Was “reducing” the size of government ever a real goal or just a slogan? This was during the same period that saw a vast growth in military and prison industry spending.
Definition- the release of large of amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. This is most often the by-product of the burning of fossil fuels. For the year 2013 it was estimated that 39,683,207,193 tons (source GlobalCarbonProject.org) were dumped into the atmosphere. This number is continuing to rise each year. Yet those most responsible for this dumping of what is essentially trash into a community resource that the whole world shares has gone unpunished. In fact those responsible for this dumping have realized huge profits from their activities. Their profits are so excessive that they have great sums of money to spend on confusing public opinion to make certain they can continue to dump massive amounts of carbon pollution into our air.
Definition- Fees, Fines, Taxes, Bank Charges, interest rates etc which are applied to people who must give up food, shelter, health care or go into to debt in order to pay. For example: a traffic fine; it’s effect on different income levels can vary greatly. A $400 speeding ticket might be a minor annoyance to one person, but could mean homelessness to a person of different circumstances. “Fees” are generally much more onerous to the poor than “taxes”. Sure the poor pay their share of taxes; Sales Tax, FICA, Unemployment etc., but they also face the much more devastating cycle of late fees from banks, landlords, Utilities, usurious interest rates, etc. When the share of societies’ costs begins to fall mostly on the poor and middle classes it intensifies the natural dichotomy of rich vs poor. Socially the middle class is much more attached to the poor than the wealthy. It is the middle class who see the homelessness and the people who struggle with addictions, the mental illness, the long expensive medical illnesses, the financial risk taking, the racial polarization, or the just plain hard luck; all the things which lead to poverty.
Definition- The emotion driven news cycle which tries to keep rational thinking at bay. It intensifies the oppositional narrative and portrays news as a competitive sport rather than an informational source. It is the equivalent of a diet of soda and candy. It searches for stimulation; the angry quote, the demand for a response, the scandal, the focus on a select few voices, the reliance on “experts” or the clever retort. It avoids calm informational analysis (a more scientific approach), because it is not entertaining or doesn’t fit the narrative. “Outrage News” has helped make the general population less and less informed. The electorate in turn is easily fooled into to electing incompetent representatives and those who seek their own enrichment rather than looking toward the good of the general population. Fortunately not all sources of news are “Outrage News” but as a trend it seems to be highly profitable and well established in the larger media outlets. “Outrage News” tends to be what most people consider “right-wing” because the oppositional narrative tends to create societal segmentation and division which generally benefits “right-wing” thought. This is not to assume that all “Outrage News” is “right-wing” just the most profitable. Just ask Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity or Bill O’Reilly, Glen Beck etc. etc. how profitable “Outrage News” can be.
War Zone Envy
Definition- The feeling one exudes when they speak of their weapons. How their weapons will protect them from imagined intruders, home invasions, attackers, and various offenders. One might guess that a person that holds their weapons in such high esteem actually looks forward to the moment they might use them. Certainly they would have no regret for any lives they might take in the process of “defending” themselves or their loved ones. They seem to have no clue that all “offenders” actually imagine themselves as “defenders”. In their minds the lines have been drawn clearly, when in reality the lines are very blurry. Someone who lives in a actual war zone may also hold their weapons in high esteem, but I doubt they are so naive about how blurry the lines are between “good guy” and “bad guy”.
Why use Political Words at all?
After reading my previous essays the reader might assume that I am disparaging the use of political words at all. But that would be an incorrect assumption. I am disparaging the use of combative words that tend to block rational thought. The political process is where the information we learn as a society can be potentially incorporated into public policy. It is where societies’ rules are created. But it is a messy process and a process which is vulnerable to those who control it to use it for their own self-interest.
The public as a whole is rather unaware on most subjects. And they are unaware of the nature of the people they pick to make rules for them and they are unaware of the process that determines who will make those rules and how they will be made. This is what makes it a messy process, and one that is often determined by which political words are the most effective.
The researchers can work tirelessly finding out how the world works and what is in store for us in the future, but if what they find goes against the public “gut” feelings then it probably won’t make it into public policy. Political words can give the public a simplified sketch of what the world looks like around them. When the words “government”, “taxes” or “racism” are uttered certain pictures form in people’s minds. These pictures are very different for varying individuals and sets of people. These pictures have nothing to do with the actual sounds coming out of a politicians mouth. A sound or written word does a poor job holding onto a concept. But they are useful in helping people create rough outlines of some of the information we have learned as a society. If used in a generous manner these words can help us-the general public grasp what is happening around us, which would be very useful when making public policy. If used in a selfish manner these words become barriers which block us and provides a poor foundation for public policy. And we tend to drift back toward a Darwinian state (which in some cases is what is needed).
Those outlets which provide us with information (media) use these word to spin their stories. They talk about “government”, “taxes”, “racism”, “liberals”, “trickle-down”, “job creators” etc. etc. It is the fabric which makes up their stories. It usually does a poor job of provoking thought and encouraging people to look deeper into the research behind what rules are being made. If “Big Government Liberals” is a more potent accusation then “Trickle-Down Economics” (which has been the case for the last 40 years or so) then a certain set of rules will be put into place regardless of the economic research behind them.
So with those thoughts in mind I have propose a few “political” words of my own. Words I think are better at “provoking” thought rather than “combative”. Of course they are only words and phrases and shouldn’t replace and body of research which either supports or discredits them, but they might be useful in a political realm.