The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.
Edward Bernays, Propaganda (1928)
Back tonight with installment #2 of debunking propaganda.
Fighting propaganda takes a little bit of self-control and a lot of patience. Propaganda is hurled from every direction, in every direction by people both nefarious and well meaning, each with his or her own agenda. To fight propaganda properly, you have to have an eye on the agenda in question, and pick it apart. Let’s look at one particular agenda right now, and statements made in defense of that agenda, and against another.
The republican agenda is built on several main concepts, the most central of which is lower taxes. Nice Idea. Great concept. But not one that has actually does any appreciable good for America. And there is a reason for that.
Tax cuts would be great if we all got them, and we all reaped the benefits of them. But we don’t, or at least none of the tax cuts passed by Republicans in recent memory, which for me spans much more than a quarter century, haven’t actually done anything for me. Or most Americans.
When Reagan cut taxes, what was the effect? The rich got richer, the poor got shafted, and the national debt went through the roof, and it was on his head that the recession of 1982-3 came to be. So what did he do to fight the problems he created here? Say those 3 letters with me.
Viddy of the day: Thom Hartmann talking to Tom Pauken. A good look at what propaganda sounds like, from both sides.
The minimum tax was created to tax the super rich, so they could not use tax loopholes to get away with paying almost no taxes. Reagan turned this into a rope around the neck of the American people, by making it applicable to a larger base of people who had less money to pay it, while the rich, all of Reagan’s millionaire friends, actually got to pay less.
And upon the strength of this the Republicans have built themselves a reputation for being pro-small government and anti-taxation?
No, it was pure propaganda that did that. Pro-right wing pundits and the like have for years laid claim that Reagan, and his disciples, were good for America because they shrunk government and lowered taxes. Despite the fact that neither is true. That’s what makes it propaganda, there are no facts that back up the right wing statements on this.
AMT. Increased public expenditure. Increased public debt. Increased poverty. Less taxes for the rich, while the burden of the cost of government fell increasingly on the middle class. THAT is the legacy of taxation left by the Republican party.
Look it up.
If we understand the mechanism and motives of the group mind, it is now possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without them knowing it.
Edward Bernays, Propaganda
More joy about taxes. This one is about the most basically flawed fundamental concept that exists within conservative economic thought, namely the laffer curve.
The laffer curve looks like, but actually isn’t, a bell curve, with low taxation on the left, and high taxation on the right. As tax rates increase from 0%, so does revenue and the arc of the laffer curve, which peaks at the middle of the graph. And then effective government revenue decreases to 0% when taxation reaches 100%.
You are seeing the problem with that statement, right?
Where are the percentages which state what effective tax rate is most effective for revenue generation? In other words, where are the friggin numbers? Mister laffer, in his infinite lack of wisdom left them off. leaving to the imagination what tax rate is best for revenue generation through taxation. But there is an explanation, or I should say a generalization that goes along with the cute little picture that mister laffer draws for us.
The Laffer curve is easily described as working this way. If tax rates are high, then cutting taxes actually generates more revenue for the government. The problem with this concept is a simple one, at least here in the United States. Our taxes have never been high enough for any potential stimulative effect to actually occur.
And where is there even a glimmer of a mention of spending within the framework of the curve? Hmm? Wouldn’t you kinda have to work that in to make it even a little bit plausible?
Now it should be obvious that the laffer curve, simply because it is graph that is dealing with taxes, a very math heavy endeavor, without any numbers on it, is more a propaganda tool than an actual basis for credible taxation policy. I don’t have a problem with low taxes, but the things in government that we need, from veterans affairs to health care to social security to unemployment need to be paid for, if they are to work for us. If you use the laffer curve as a tool, you are not working from sound numbers, you are making it up as you go, and in the end failing the people you attempt to help with these services.
That’s it for me. Go to sleep, America.