For years I've been reading that we liberals are too effete (cowardly? timid?) to answer the conservatives' method of making points by framing issues in ways that suggest the conclusion. Some examples of frames are:
- Renaming the estate tax to "death tax," implying that one has to pay a tax if one dies. The polite response is that the tax is not paid by the decedent but by his or her heirs. They pay a tax on the money they receive as their inheritances. The total amount of tax collected depends on how the estate is split up. If one person inherits the whole thing, he or she pays a whopping tax. If the estate is split evenly among several heirs, the total tax paid is less because of the graduated scale on which the tax is calculated. I have not yet seen an earthy response.
- Proposals to raise the marginal tax rates on persons with large incomes has been called both "class warfare" and "job killers." One liberal response is to label conservative attempts to do away with Social Security as an entitlement and replace it with some form of individual savings account as class warfare against the elderly and the poor. Attempts at weakening or destroying labor unions by placing severe restrictions on collective bargaining or strikes by public service employees are examples of class warfare against the workers. As far as such an increase could be a "job killer," we should remember that most enterprisers don't start businesses with their own money. Instead, they look for a bank loan and later for investors. We read that today banks are awash with money they they aren't lending out. Instead, they deposit it with interest in federal reserve banks. Besides, some of us are old enough to remember the good times of the Eisenhower Administration, when the marginal income tax rates were as high as 90 percent.
I am pleased to report that I have heard some liberals give responses like the ones above. We are not voiceless. We are not timid. We follow the traditions of Presidents Roosevelt and Truman. Roosevelt called his opponents "economic royalists." Truman called them "snolly gosters." The proper response to a frame is a more effective frame, not a denial.
Labels: class warfare, death tax, economic royalist, FDR, frames, HST, job killer, snolly goster