A tribute to the 99ers: We are not invisible.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Words matter.

Wandering through the local Toys R Us I saw a sign atop a bin, "Retired Beanie Babys". Obviously, TRU is trying to clear inventory, but the perception of Beanie Baby Closeout/Blowout/Discount vs. the perception of Retired Beanie Babies is significant even though the goal is the same. Words create image, words matter.

I am a lifelong liberal. Politically, I've been playing defense my entire life.  Liberals lose the word game and have to fight twice as hard to drive public opinion. Liberals must stop using conservative terminology and reframe the discussion with favorable word images.

"Pro-life, Pro-choice". The inference is that a woman that wants control of her body is somehow against life. In contrast many anti-abortion activists have no problems with the death penalty or untold millions dead in Iraq and Afghanistan. These anti-choicers are many things but certainly not pro-life. Start framing the abortion debate accurately: intrusive big government required reproduction vs. personal reproductive rights.

Cap and trade is a moderate response to pollution control. Other options include cap and tax/fine (government receives income from carbon credits), cap (comply or close) or allowing our world to become a pile of toxic goo.   Opponents call it cap and tax (if only) or government intrusion.  Proponents should call cap and trade what it truly is: free market pollution abatement.

Entitlement programs. Social Security, Medicare and Unemployment benefits are not entitlements, they are safety nets.  Framing them as entitlements evokes a spoiled rich kid with unrealistic expectations as a birth rite. Social Security, Medicare and Unemployment Compensation are insurance programs. Insurance is pooled risk. By definition not everyone enrolled in an insurance program benefits equally. Some receive greater than their input, some less than their input and some lucky individuals don't need the benefit. Would you rather receive payment from you auto insurance or be accident free?  The only thing that makes Social Security or Medicare entitlements is that individuals that do not need benefits, receive benefits.  Income and asset test these "entitlements" and reserve the programs for those in need of a safety net.

Extended Unemployment Insurance Benefits. There is no benefit to being unemployed for any length of time. Unemployment compensation supports both the recipient and the community and occasionally must be extended beyond 26 weeks during a weak economy. Refer to unemployment insurance compensation as local short term recession mitigation. Individuals and their neighborhoods suffer during high unemployment. Foreclosures rise, property values plunge, businesses close and the cycle spirals downward to disaster. It makes sense to invest in these communities through (unemployed) individuals until the economy is sustainable. Anyone in Congress listening?

Liberals will continue to make a case to a deaf public if conservatives are allowed to control terminology.  When liberals use proper language there is no debate. Progressive points are self evident.  Choose the right words and control the conversation.

Some of the above newly coined terms are rather lengthy.  Any ideas to make them shorter or sharper?  Do you have any other terms to recast?

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