Once upon a time in America, young people, workers, and fighters for social justice coined a phrase, “speak truth to power”. Most of us have settled for the media’s insistence that we now “speak only power to truth” or no truth at all.
From the so-called energy crisis which was a Dick Cheney-Enron-induced catastrophe from which California has yet to recover, to the so-called mortgage meltdown, we have accepted lies and bullshit in place of research and another 60’s throwback, telling it like it is.
Right wing think tanks figured out at least 30 years ago that it was worth lots of their considerable largess to learn how to frame the debate in their terms, and we’ve been working with their definitions since then. No wonder we often seem to lose the debate as Fox News describes it.
We don’t need our own think tanks to unspin that skewed reality; we just need to define our experience on our own terms while learning to use social media to promote our worldview. Please feel free to suggest, object, add to, or refine my suggestions.
Old Spin to New Definitions:
Economic downturn, meltdown, recession, mortgage meltdown, housing market crash=Wall Street Gamblathon, Wall Street-induced downturn, Usury, Phony recession, Massive-fraud crash, Sub-Prime Mortgage Theft, Corporate Welfare Kings (sorry, few corporate welfare queens), Wall Street Crash, Speculation meltdown, Investment fraud meltdown, Bank bailout crash, Wall Street Whackos, Wall Street Fraudster. Please suggest some more. Remember, America loves sound bites.
Conservative=Right wing extremists, Reactionary, Big government intrusionists, (new suggestion) Regressives, Anti-women’s rights activists, Billionaire-lovers, CEOs, Corporatists, White supremacists, Carry-a-big-stick-and–use-it activists, Pro-gun lobbyists, Pro-shooting lobbyists, Shoot’emup-2nd-Amendment rights advocates, Anti-4th-amendment activists, Pro-death-to-mom lobbyist, Tree-cutters, Anti-public education advocates, Baby-lovers&children-haters, Roads-in-forest-but-not-in-my-town lovers, My-family-not-yours activists, or Just me-but-not-you advocates.
Entitlements=Those rights and funds you spent your life earning. Sometimes including Medicaid=the medical care that you need but may not be able to pay for by yourself since you got sick but have a right to in a civilized society.
Real Conservative=Loves civil liberties and fights to defend them (highly individualistic), wants the government out of your bedroom and doctor’s office, fights to preserve the natural environment, assists mom-and-pop businesses not corporations, entrepreneurial, anti-overseas adventures, pro-self-determination advocates, (I grew up in one of these kinds of Republican households.)
Progressive=Equal rights advocates, Civil liberties advocates, Trade unionists, Workers’ rights advocate, Family needs advocate, Education-for-all advocate, Women’s-rights-as-mothers-workers-and-sexual-beings advocates, Healthcare-for-all advocate, Self-determination advocates, Social justice fighters, Science lovers. They advocate tolerance of other points of view and embrace diversity and new ideas.
Liberals=believe in all of the above except when inconvenient.
Department of Defense (formerly known as the Department of War)-Should be merged with the Department of Commerce since selling weapons around the world is our only significant remaining American export and includes regular invasions of defenseless countries. (Well, why would you invade countries that can successfully defend themselves?)
Citizen=Anyone who contributes to a society by working and building a life including raising a family to be responsible (may not include some of the very wealthy), paying sales tax, property tax, social security tax (which benefits they may never receive), tickets, fines, rent, mortgage, business license fees and assessments, attending school, attending community meetings, marching, rallying, flyering, precinct walking and phone banking- at the least, voting if possible (if you can and you don’t, are you really a citizen?), complaining and writing letters to the editor, and yes, having “anchor babies” w/o which our economy would slow even more-just compare our labor force and entrepreneurial spirit to countries that restrict immigration more successfully than ours. You can visit any “Chinatown” or Latino commercial district in your town or city to see the place where small and family-owned businesses are burgeoning and social life is vibrant.
Immigrant= Most of us. According to the latest US census, 1% of us are Native or Alaskan Native.
Minorities=White- Anglo-Saxon-Protestants, WASPs (at least in California.)
Deficit=Money donated to the rich before being extorted from the poor and soon-to-be-poor who donated it in the first place (see Citizen or Gangbanger or Wall Street Fraudster for more information on how that happened.)
Gangbangers=Wall Street executives, that is, gamblers, (Ad)venture capitalists, hedge fund managers, and some politicians. Can we get an injunction to keep them out of our cities, towns, and states or restrict their movements?
Pensions=Money regular folk (averaging $19,000 a year), who don’t have trust funds, worked for- which was given to the stock market which then gambled it away.
Teachers=Women and some men who work many hours without pay to educate, counsel, feed, mentor, clean up after, purchase supplies, and advocate at school boards and state capitols for (sometimes marching, rallying or see citizen above for the rest) the kids in our cities, towns, suburbs, and rural areas.
For the other hours that teachers do this, they receive modest pay (not including paying for credentials and on-going classes incorporating the latest gimmick, that is, “reform”, into their classroom days) from which their own retirement is deducted-see above for what happens then to it.
Public Sector Workers=In addition to the above teachers and the oft mentioned fire fighters and police: secretaries who take your messages, and in most cases, do the work of the managers you have called, clerks who put up with your bad attitude or lack of awareness and file your paperwork, answer your calls, try to interpret the bureaucratic wording some lawyer wrote up while wearing stockings, uncomfortable shoes and over-priced dresses or suits.
Janitors who clean up after all of the above in the middle of the night while they’re children are sleeping and still get them to school in the morning etc, public works guys and a few women who dig out the street or the sidewalk in summer heat (or fog), winter rain, and yes, some pleasant weather while your kid skate boards across their new work, sigh.
Some of them are meter maids or meter guys or meter readers-whatever-who write big tickets and take big abuse to cover the cost of the Wall Street Whackos who gambled away your public monies. See above.
Taxpayers= People who work for a wage or salary or any paycheck out of which taxes are taken, small business people, and anyone of us left over from the 1% who own 90% of the wealth in this country, people who funded the bank and Wall Street bailouts.
Union Members=Taxpayers with some control over their working conditions.
Here’s the other thing about Public Sector Workers that I haven’t seen mentioned. Most of the work in the public sector (including the military) is based on civil service or true meritocracy rules.
Therefore, many people of color have found stable employment there, have been able to rise in pay and stature, and have supported whole communities (businesses, homes, families, schools) on the basis of their reasonably remunerated labor.
This may be one of the reasons that public sector employment is under attack. Many Black women who had been forced into domestic labor (not even included in the Social Security system) in the past, and now, other women of color, have risen to prominence; or at least been able to sustain their communities as a result of working where race, class, or gender were not barriers to earning a stable living.
Without the availability of this type of employment and the deconstruction of affirmative action, the old rules of hiring apply. Those rules mean hiring someone who either looks like the boss, is related to the boss, or does favors for the boss. Those restrictions are devastating to many men but have often proven dangerous for women.
We must create a new vocabulary to create a new world (and stop using the old right wing spinology). We can’t let the Right Wing define democracy, freedom, human rights, and our socio-economic life in ways that reduce the actuality of achieving those pretty words.