Saturday, July 30, 2011

Change the Frame


Many years ago, I was asked to be the host of a global climate change debate. "What's the format I asked?" There will be two on the climate change science side and two on the denier side they said. No thanks I said, the denier side wins with that kind of set up. If there were 9 on the science side and one on the denier side, that would more accurately reflect scientific opinion.

They assured me that would not happen, but urged me to reconsider, saying that I could make my position about the debate format clear. Well I did. And with the theatrics I created, I think the point was made. In fact, the guy from the Western Fuels Association pretty much came unglued.

His frame had been undone.

Today we are being overwhelmed with another frame. That frame is that the US is broke, that we must make huge cuts in our government, that medicare, social security, Pell grants, and our hopes of a civil, compassionate, and enlightened future must all be reconsidered. We are broke.

This is the ultimate capitalist frame.

Even as these same corporations and individuals enjoy some of the largest profits in their history and in the history of humankind, they are using their ownership of the media to convince their flocks that indeed the good old days of plenty of grass, plentiful spring water, and shelter from winter storms are over. We have spent too much money on those things, and now we will need to cut that back. It reminds me of the chocolate reductions in Orwell's 1984.

And don't think it's just the Rs. The D's are right there with them, creating the back side of the tsunami wave that is inundating the collective thought forms of so many.

So, here's my list of the myths that have rushed over the levee of thoughtful discourse.

Myth Number One, "the government is like a household". Everytime you hear a politician tell you that we must get our fiscal house in order, that we, like any other home or business can't spend more than we take in, ask yourself, "but my household doesn't own a bank. My household doesn't own a federal reserve and a banking system that creates money whenever it likes". In fact, our national household probably could always spend more than it takes in. The real issue is why do we pay interest on our debt at all...the private banking sector creates money and though they charge us interest, they pocket that interest as profits.

Myth Number Two, "Money represents value". No, money is not value. Money isn't even money anymore. And if you are still using the printing press metaphor to describe its creation, you are hopelessly in the dark ages. Money is privilege. Those with it, have it, and those who don't, don't. Those who have it, don't want there to be too much of it. Otherwise their privilege is reduced. From a totally practical economic standpoint, money is lubrication. It makes things move easier and faster. Lots of money heats up the economy, less money cools it down.

Debt is the way the system generally creates money. Almost all growth comes from this created money. So debt is not bad in itself, especially if you have privilege. For Debt is the primary vehicle or money elevator that moves money up the privilege pyramid.

Three, the Capitalist system is democratic. No, our economic system is most definitely anti-democratic. It couldn't be more Monarchial and Kingdom-like. Corporations may let their stockholders vote, but like most autocratic organizations, there is only one slate of directors to vote for. And as corporations and the wealthy gain larger and larger shares of the total privilege pie, our own democratic systems become less and less able to function properly. They begin to function for and by the capitalist structures that control them. That is why the two party system of the US is simply a coin with left and right faces. I prefer the left, perhaps you like the right.

As long as the present system is allowed to run amuck, democracy will suffer. It could even succumb completely as a modestly informed, somewhat educated public is replaced by a public that has been lulled into unconsciousness by a steady stream of shaping, propaganda, and most recently, outright lies.

Myth number Four, "the present economic model is the best one we can imagine". Capitalism beat Communism, so therefore it is the best for humankind. (Actually China makes mincemeat of that ridiculous notion) There are tens of millions of folks in Africa, India, and in your home town who would beg to differ. Many are starving today. Many many more will come. And as climate change moves over the land, their numbers will multiply.

I marvel how a rather straightforward truth about the efficiency of free markets has morphed into the religion of our age. "Let the market work", say seemingly sane educated people. These Chicago educated followers of the Guru of Markets have deregulated the airlines, water systems, some electric grids, and the result is almost always less service and less reliability, at the occassional lower price. (It should be cheaper, it's crappier)

Myth number Five, "the Debt Ceiling talks are a crisis". No, this is not a crisis, it is a coup, the ultimate Capitalist coup. And like any other coup attempt, the President should step forward, use the 14th amendment, exert emergency powers, and put an end to it.

Then we change the frame.

Labels: ,