Saturday, August 28, 2004

More Lakoff

From Cursor, notice of a Lakoff interview by UCB news. I see he's wisely focusing on reframes, very timely in this RNC week.

On taxes, reframed as investments for the common good:
In the past the government made certain wise investments in things like the interstate highway system. You just get in your car and drive; you don't think about how every time you use the highways you're getting a dividend on that previous investment — and so is every business that sends a truck over the interstate highway system. The Internet is another example. It started out as a network funded by the Defense Department, by the government investing taxpayers' money. Now, every time you surf the Web, you're getting a dividend. Drugs and medical advances that come out of National Institutes of Health grants are financed by taxpayers. Computer chips in our computers and cars exist because of the government's early investment of taxpayers' money in semiconductor research.
On the benefits of govenment versus private investment (applies to public education as well):
But wouldn't conservatives argue, as they have with Social Security, that individuals can invest their money better than the government?

That's simple. Would you prefer to have the government build and maintain the highway system, or do it yourself? Would you rather have a private company owning the highway system and the Internet, and charging you God knows how much to use them? You like the army, but do you want to build your own? How about your own police and fire departments? No. You want a government that can do the things you need, in the areas where private companies can't or won't do them or simply can't be trusted to do them right. One of progressives' main goals is a better future for all. A wise and efficient government is needed for that in hundreds of ways.

When it comes to government investment of your tax money, businesses benefit even more than ordinary people. To start a business, you don't have to invent computer science or the telephone network, you don't have to build a highway system. They're just there for businesses to use, as is the Federal Reserve, the Treasury Department, the SEC, the Commerce Department, and the courts. A company doesn't have to make up a way to adjudicate its disputes with other companies; we paid for it already. Nine-tenths of the courts are there for corporate law. Corporations get enormous benefits paid for by other taxpayers, but they've stopped paying their way. Corporate income tax used to make up about 38 percent of all U.S. taxes. Now it's less than 10 percent. Ordinary taxpayers are making the investments in infrastructure, and corporate stockholders are getting the dividends. And that's just not fair.
Why we should avoid falling into the trap of using the term 'war on terror':
There are two reasons for that. Let's start with "terror." Terror is a general state, and it's internal to a person. Terror is not the person we're fighting, the "terrorist." The word terror activates your fear, and fear activates the strict father model, which is what conservatives want. The "war on terror" is not about stopping you from being afraid, it's about making you afraid.

Next, "war." How many terrorists are there — hundreds? Sure. Thousands? Maybe. Tens of thousands? Probably not. The point is, terrorists are actual people, and relatively small numbers of individuals, considering the size of our country and other countries. It's not a nation-state problem. War is a nation-state problem.
Lakoff makes it sound as though it's just simple commonsense. I'd love to see a handbook or even a Lakoff blog. That would be a sure hit.