After spending some quality time with the conservative part of my family (which is most), and recent interaction with conservative friends; I feel it necessary to address some issues that conservatives cannot see for what they are – Propaganda. Between Scott Walker, the Fitzgerald brothers, Paul Ryan, and other conservative pundits, politicians, and ideologues; we have been hearing a lot of talk about fiscal policy and the direction they feel we ought to take. Their defense (or offense, as it were) and promotion of their ideas is hinging on the general populace believing some key ideas. In fact, without their ability to “sell” us these ideas, they are left with philosophies demonstrating disregard for working families, and favoritism to the wealthy corporate interests continuing their hold on political and fiscal power.
Webster’s dictionary defines propaganda as 1.) the spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person. Or, 2.) ideas, facts, or allegations spread deliberately to further one’s cause or to damage an opposing cause. The right is attempting the worst kind of propaganda – that structured on lies – repeated over and over again until it is believed to be true. They also extoll poor comparisons and out-of-context research (or poor research) to support their claims, and further their agenda. These fiscal untruths form the basis for their budgetary attacks on the working class. Enough is enough. Time for the truth – share this information, know it, save it, understand it. If you are a conservative – have the courage to embrace fact, and abandon hollow ideology.
Propaganda item #1 – “We are broke…” – On February 11, 2011, Governor Scott Walker declared these words as he unveiled his “Budget Repair Bill,” claiming this issue and his policies to offset the deficit are non-negotiable, preventing a fiscal catastrophe. It has been repeated over, and over, and over – most recently by Paul Ryan in announcing his budget plan in Washington, DC. Not only is their claim false, it is a deliberate distortion based on their own policies creating this “crisis.” The repeated mantra then serves to create fear amongst the general populace that our government is about to go broke, or the America as we know it is about to crumble. Nothing could be further from the truth. Prior to Scott Walker taking office, the Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau released a memo to Legislators Vos and Darling regarding the Bureau’s non-partisan state fiscal condition. The date of the memo is January 31, 2011, seen here:
2011_01_31Vos&Darling - Referencing page 2 shows a budget surplus, even after the statutory required balance of $65 million, of over $56 million. The current bienium did not show a deficit until Scott Walker signed his first corporate tax breaks into effect in February; then proceeded to push for “emergency budget repair” to fix the current deficit HE created. Reading further into the memo shows a forecasted deficit (not as much as Walker predicted) based largely on the recessive national economy – but showing state revenue growth of approximately 4% over the two bieniums. As stated by Senator Erpenbach’s office, a few minor fiscal adjustments could have solved our deficit issues, with no need to slash necessary services for working families. The actual numbers can actually be seen here, in the fiscal portion of the “Budget Repair Bill” :
2011_04_01_SSSB12_SSAB13 - Page 3 begins the General Fund management plan. The first item lapses the fund transfer from DOA to the General Fund. Simply speaking, in 2007 the practice of transferring unallocated DOA funds back to the General Fund began, putting millions into the budget to offset deficits. This bill keeps $79 million untouched in the DOA budget – which would have historically been returned to the General Fund. This sounds complicated, but it’s quite simple. Once surplus funds will remain at the disposal of the DOA (Executive Budget), instead of being returned to the General Fund, that is, the taxpayers, for necessary services. Continuing this practice would have offset the projected deficit just as a single fiscal action. If you combine the above action with continuing current Capital Gains policies (instead of restructuring Capital Gains giving another tax break to the top 1% income bracket); and eliminating the corporate tax breaks signed into law in February; Wisconsin would currently have a fiscal surplus. This would be based on current state finances, keeping all services in tact with economic growth of approximately 4% as predicted by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau. If this evidence isn’t enough to prove the ideological propaganda at play to further corporate rewarding policy, here is the Politifact analysis of this claim http://www.politifact.com/wisconsin/statements/2011/mar/03/scott-walker/wisconsin-gov-scott-walker-says-wisconsin-broke/ .
Propaganda item #2 - “Public Employees have it too good, and their greed is what is breaking the state.” - The intentional misinformation here serves no other purpose than creating inter-class warfare. Pitting middle class workers against each other is a brilliant tactic for ”divide and conquer.” There are more of us than wealthy Corporatics, so it is necessary for them to split the majority against itself to maintain their political power. The truth is, public employees have been sacrificing cost of living and benefits for years prior to this budget discussion. More importantly is debunking the lie surrounding public employee wages. The fact is, when compared to like education levels and experience, public sector wages (including benefits) are on average 8% lower than their private sector counterparts. There have been numerous non-partisan studies – and many partisan studies that do not compare like experience and education levels. The following memo from the Economic Policy Institute (Rutgers University) explains that wages of Wisconsin Public Sector Employees are much lower (12-14%) than Private Sector. Through collective bargaining, unions have offset those lower wages with better benefits (to attract a highly educated workforce) with the result being about 8% lower wages in public sector jobs. EPI_PolicyMemorandum_173
Another study done over 20 years at the University of Wisconsin is linked here. Though much longer, it is worth looking at. This study also concludes Public sector wages are lower than their Private sector counterparts with like education and experience. In addition, the study proves the fact that wage concessions have been made – showing declining real wages in the Public sector over 20 years when adjusted for inflation versus increase in Private Sector wages over the same period of time. UW Public Wage Study . The real availability of this information proves the willingness of the right to ignore fact to spread propaganda to forward their ideology.
Propaganda item #3 -” Lowering Taxes on the Wealthy creates jobs and stimulates the economy.” – This lie has been told for years. The Bush tax cuts, supply side supporters said it, and Paul Ryan recently said it in reference to his budget proposal. Specifically, that taxing behavior inhibits that behavior (i.e. cigarettes, alcohol, etc.), so don’t tax the “creation of wealth.” First, the comparisons are not legitimate. It is an apples to oranges comparison at the worst level. It is a proven scientific fact that taxing cigarettes contributed to a decline in their use (with incontrovertable evidence they are a health detriment). The idea that cutting taxes on the rich stimulates the economy is a complete myth, cited only by corporatic ideologues only interested in their own power and influence. With the finalization of fiscal data from the last of the Bush years, the following article appeared in tax.com (September 2010). http://www.tax.com/taxcom/taxblog.nsf/Permalink/CHAS-89LPZ9 The analysis concludes the policies of the Bush tax cuts accomplished one thing – it put more money into the hands of the wealthy. Jobs and income levels dropped, in fact to levels below 2000 by almost 6%. The ranks of high wage earners ($200K +) increased, while the ranks of the working poor grew. This is important to understand, since Paul Ryan would have us believe dropping the top tier tax rate to 25% (a rate not seen since pre-Depression) will solve our fiscal problems. This is not only historically inaccurate, it is a fantasy. The downward direction of the highest tax rates have only created a larger wealth gap, and created a greater strain on the middle class taxpayer – whose wages have diminished or stagnated while the wealthy continue to control more power and wealth. The following compilation of charts demonstrate the alarming curve towards plutocracy, as instigated by a corporate -controlled legislative process:
First, demonstrating the growing income gap is larger than just prior to the Great Depression:
Next, as of 2007, the top 10% now control over 70% of US wealth and continues to grow:
Next, demonstrating the wage increases CEOs have seen while middle class workers wages stay flat:
Finally, the change in real income – notice which line heads off the chart:
The numbers and facts don’t lie. We are not broke – there is a lot of money and wealth in our economy. Public employees are working middle class, just like the vast majority of Americans, and tax cuts will do nothing but widen the disparity of wealth and earning potential for Americans until we have two classes – rich and poor. The goal of this ideology is just that. A single party, plutocracy with wealthy corporations calling the fiscal and political shots for their own benefit. We are on that road, and have been for a long time. These facts and history are being ignored and spun by those implementing these policies, because their money base tells them to. Enough is enough. There are more of us. Educate yourself, share this information and tell the facts. We are the incredible shrinking middle class, and we have to regain our Democracy for future generations.
Look for the next posting – the moral and ethical propaganda machine debunked. One more day – On Wisconsin!