Tag Archives: Corporations

An Occupied Kind of Tea Party

The Occupy movement has done much to change the conversation in our country around issues of commerce, the worker’s plight, and the inequity that exists between the very rich and the rest of us. I am thankful that they’ve done it because the status quo discourse around those matters was painfully apathetic. There is one unfortunate aspect to what has happened in the Occupy movement that provides a chink in their armor, it’s a path that creates further division – not unity – for their cause.

I would have hoped that early on the Occupy movement would have recognized the similarities between themselves and the Tea Partiers that demonstrated a season before them. You can point out many differences but the power comes from pointing out the similarities. The Tea Party started as a rejection of the bail out of the banks – little guys vs. big guys, the workers vs. the monied classes.  They were hostile to Wall Street and the preferences showed them over Main St. It was said that they despised all things big, Big Government, Big Banks, Big Business and Big Taxes – hey, I see a solid half of values matching up. Even Big Government and Big Taxes are contested concepts and relative terms; I don’t know many people that want bigger taxes and government just for the sake of being big. Since the start of the Occupy movement – and since it is commonplace to pit folks against each other – comparisons have been made between the Occupy and Tea Party Movement.

It is time for those of us with respect for our fellow humans to try and recognize our similarities and affinities and draw from them rather than point and laugh at our differences. Originally Tea Partiers were grassroots, organically organized, and rightfully upset at a system that had discounted their opinion. These very basic and authentic roots resonate with most of us, especially the Occupy sympathizers. I for one, as a sympathizer, want to reach out to my fellow citizens and human beings. I can respectfully disagree with some points and then wholeheartedly agree with many others. We agree that our system is dysfunctional. We agree that opportunity should be fair and that favoritism is fundamentally unfair. We don’t like our tax dollars or reputations to be squandered doing wasteful or hurtful things to others. There are a host of values that we align with that could be emphasized instead of taking cheap shots and trying to “gotcha!” each other.

I come from a family and area in the Midwest where it is common that find myself in a room of loved ones that do not politically agree with me, it does not make me love them less. It used to make me like them less, but now I understand where they are coming from and the values that they hold dear. Because I also hold my values dear and would fight to uphold them, it gives me respect for my debate partner to hear their well reasoned points ring with passion and integrity. When I hear rigorous debate that ditches the sophomoric name calling and embraces ethical rules of engagement, I have hope for the future. A glorious, wonderful thing happens when we give each other the time and space to express themselves in a respectable manner: our guard relaxes, we feel safer and we open our minds to begin learning from each other. We will never all agree with each other, but we can remind each other that we are human and at least in that, we have some common values. If we are to continuing to exist, we might as well try to bring out the best in each other.

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Family Values and the “Free Market”

In yesterday’s post, I outlined some of the inconsistencies Newt Gingrich has shown on the campaign trail  – how he got very touchy-feely with moms yet his platform of ideas does not line up to be that family friendly.  The most glaring inconsistency is – once again – about values. Gingrich is all about unfettered capitalism, exhausting resources for short term gain, and upholding what he considers to be traditional American, God fearing family values. So why is he espousing liberal values in front of an audience that was shown to support Obama? Ok, that’s got an obvious answer – because he wants to be the one they support. Their survey basically showed that moms have more liberal belief systems than the social conservatives (all but Ron Paul) in the Republican race.

Luntz starts off his analysis stating simple facts about the survey, but then showed his bias by backpedaling a bit in order to tow the Republican line. In this clip, he speaks with a CafeMom correspondent about the survey that CafeMom did. First he states the facts pretty plainly, moms are feeling very negative about the American dream, their daily struggle, and political parties, but at about 2:40 he begins putting words in these surveyed moms’ mouths when talking about what moms want from politicians:

They need to address the issues, not from an ideological standpoint, but much more from a day-to-day, quality-of-life standpoint.  How can you help moms achieve their goals from the moment they wake up in the morning ’til the moment they go to sleep at night? Now [moms are] not asking for bigger government – that’s not what they’re saying. What they’re saying is understand, empathize, and at least get out of their way and don’t make it more difficult for me.

Luntz goes on:

They need to show [the moms] that they hear the challenges and they have solutions to it, whether it’s helping them feel more secure in their jobs, whether it’s providing more money at the end of the week, whether it’s helping them save, helping them start a business…or even just getting out of the way so they can do it themselves.

Luntz does a sloppy job of quoting, citing survey results, and interjecting his opinion in this interview. You can’t really be sure when he is paraphrasing on the moms’ behalf and when he inserting his own opinion, though he does call attention to actual quotes from moms. Rest assured, if an actual mom had an actual quote that fit his agenda, he would be using it and trying to push it to the spotlight of attention. In the above quotes he takes the leap in outlining what moms are not asking for – a negative catch phrase that Republicans love to use – “bigger government”. To an establishment Republican, that term is synonymous with Democrats – this is a dog whistle. He wants it to seem like moms reject Democratic ideas when there is no question or response that indicates that. He goes on to state that moms want understanding and empathy – nurturing values that are planks of the Democratic party. Then he throws in “get out of their way and don’t make it more difficult”, as if moms actually responded with those words – again, if they did he would’ve quoted it. He is dog whistling again – throwing out a tagline of the Republican party as if the moms put it out there.

In the second quote above, Frank is summarizing the survey and stating what moms have said that they want from a candidate. Look at the laundry list, job security, more money per week, saving (which also amounts to more money) – what does a Republican have to offer for those day-to-day, week-to-week struggles and fears? The “free market” (a.k.a. capitalism). There’s only one problem, the “free market” does not have a human component. It is about money, money, and money. “Free markets” are not sympathetic when you must miss work due to a child’s illness, there are other workers to replace you. “Free markets” don’t care if your 40 hour work week has turned into a 60 hour work week and you no longer have any daylight hours (or energy) to spend with your family – that’s called “productivity”. “Free markets” aren’t giving out pay raises to allow for some breathing room in a family budget – are you kidding, in this job market? This is the progressive qualm with the so-called “free market”; there is no room for humanity to be human. The trajectory for the quality of life of a worker at this time goes nowhere but down.

Luntz suggests the idea that moms may like help starting a business. I’m sure that is true of some moms, but let’s be realistic: if you can’t find a job, live in fear of losing a job, and have zero or low wages, would you really be in a great position to learn what it takes and have the resources to run a successful business? Without these hindrances – or children that need rearing/child care that needs paying – starting a small business is risky enough. The rate of successful, thriving businesses compared to the number of startups is bleak for the long term. Security definitely does not spring to mind when thinking of risking the well-being of the whole family on an entrepreneurial venture ( a craps game is closer to my mental imagery).

Luntz knows, at least in this instance, that empathy is key to this demographic. It almost seems like he is trying to co-opt the term for himself/his clients even though it is not a traditionally top conservative value – it is the top progressive value. He wants folks to vote conservative though the survey shows their values are liberal. Indeed the bigger problem for Luntz – and the Republican party – is that two of the main factions of their party, social conservatives and “free market” advocates, are not very compatible when you get down to the real world application of those values. Once again, the credibility goes back to a trust issue – just like in interpersonal relationships.  Can moms really trust an unrestrained, subsidized corporation to take care of their families and neighborhoods? Is profit-seeking the same as caring for family values?  When the used car dealer tells you it’s a fine piece of equipment just moments before the fender falls off, you take your business elsewhere. Luntz knows this and relies on our short term memories, then plays a shell game with our futures. Gingrich can talk a sympathetic game, but it is inconsistent with the Republican capitalist platform – the core of his platform.  It will be interesting to see if empathy continues to come up on the campaign trail and how Republicans handle these inconsistencies. Maybe corporations will start eschewing profits to worry about our kids’ future – just kidding, I wanted to end with a chuckle.

As an aside, you may wonder why I continually put “free markets” in quotes throughout my post; the latest buzzword is “enterprise”  (perhaps that was a suggestion of Luntz’s as well, it does sound better). “Free markets” use the contested concept of “freedom” and, as the joke goes, freedom is more free for some than others. I’ll do a future post all about the misnomer of “free markets” or enterprise, or whatever the term of the season is for capitalism in our corporate society. Keep checking back in, with CivilTongue – and your own values.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Citizens United and Citizens Divided

Saturday is the anniversary of the Citizens United decision that held up the idea that corporations are people. I know of no individual person that agrees with this decision – ok, Mitt Romney unashamedly says, “corporations are people my friend” in this clip. How can this be? How can any human deny their own species of its unique place in the world? I will break down the ideas behind this concept and try to make any sense of this point of view. Meanwhile I’d like to make some suggestions on how to start this conversation.

In that clip, Romney is explaining that the money from corporations goes to people, therefore they equal people. For all of us, not just presidential candidates, we tend to ignore facts and use what we can to justify our positions. While for many of us that argument rings hollow, perhaps he has actually convinced himself that because people work for corporations that they are the same. Each of us can construct a worldview that reinforces our own desires and beliefs and when confronted with outside opinion – it sounds crazy. This supporting argument is rather weak because in fact a corporation cannot put on a shirt, take a breath, and has no DNA. Any grade school scientist could come to the conclusion that indeed corporations are not humans. The actual values that cause folks like Romney – and our Supreme Court – to make these justifications, actually stem from their worldview that authority is the supreme moral compass. This authority ultimately rests in their belief in God, which might mean a Christian – or Mormon – one, but it also might mean a deitized view of money. Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Advertisements