Monday, February 9, 2015

How The Word "Entitlement" Got Debased to Mean "Handout"

To the deep politics maven, one of the recurring themes of interest is the multiple ways our fellow citizens are continually "mind-fucked" for lack of any better, more apt term. Much of this is accomplished via the disinformation of political ads, but also via the media itself - i.e. when the corporate media trashed all truth and objective history in its presentation of the JFK assassination during the 50th anniversary of that event, see e.g.

Much of this sort of mind-fucking or gutting has already been well explicated in books such as Chris Hedges' 'Empire of Illusion' and Benjamin Barber's 'Consumed'.  Hedges also touches on how language is used to create mind viruses that wreak havoc in our political landscape once they colonize vulnerable brains. Some examples:

"death taxes" implemented by the GOOps to protect the estates of the rich which had been rightly subject to estate taxes.

"tax increases" - used to describe the repeal of the Bush tax cuts that were never intended to remain in place beyond 2011.

"liberal" - turned into a dirty  word by its  incessant misuse by Reep-tards and their fellow travelers, often to mean someone who would endorse child rapists and traffickers, supporting "welfare queens", and being soft on criminals - letting them go free (Google "Willie Horton" ad). All that when liberal actually means one who inveighs against child labor, exploitation of workers, denial of reproductive choice for women.

But the most recent example, "entitlement" - as described by the authors of  'Social Security Works'  - is startling to behold - including who the culprits are.  Why change the meaning of what was once a wonky reference to a word associated with the tax code (in terms of the child tax deduction entitlement, the mortgage deduction entitlement, the earned income tax credit etc.)?

As the authors note (p. 150), entitlement was turned into the proverbial 4-letter word:

"to suggest the benefits Americans had and were earning were less than deserved and to obfuscate the goals of those who sought to radically diminish social protections."

This term was most directly applied to Social Security - which has been in the sights of the Neoliberal elites for over three decades now. This despite as Altman and Klingson observe (ibid.):

"Focus groups indicate that most people equate the word 'entitlement' with a government handout- receiving something for nothing. But here's the catch that pollster Celinda Lake uncovered: when the focus groups were told the word 'entitlement' included Social Security, they vigorously disagree.

Social Security can't be an entitlement, the focus groups say, since they have earned their benefits just as they earn their compensation for work performed. When told that in Washington 'entitlement' does indeed refer to Social Security they become angry and insulted."

As they should be! However, that hasn't stopped the despicable, propaganda-based corporate media from jumping on the bandwagon to push this abominable association. To reinforce this Altman and Klingson  cite one LA Times headline which hysterically trumpeted:

'Entitlements Seen Taking Up Nearly All Taxes by 2012'.

But, of course, 2012 has come and gone and no such parlous 'takeover' has transpired. But the media monkeys who uniformly believe in "monkey see, monkey do" haven't let go of it despite the fact most Americans aren't amused at how they're being portrayed. Altman and Klingson  again (ibid.):

"The American people do not like change in language, but the media loved the storyline that entitlement spending on the old was crowding out spending on the young and ruining the country."

A virulent, despicable meme I've referenced and skewered before, e.g.

The authors then note how the actual name for Obama's deficit commission was known to the particulars and honchos as "The Entitlement Commission". Obama himself is actually blamed as being the prime culprit (p. 151) since "in the Executive order to form the commission, Obama lumped together Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid under the rubric of entitlement spending"

Once the media got wind of the misbegotten language use-   disgusting Neolib vermin that they are- more invested in PR and propaganda than truth, they pushed it ceaselessly.

Why did a Democratic President, Barack Obama, fall into this mind virus trap? Had he no deep insights into the history of attacks on Social Security?  Or did he simply lack the balls to fend off the mounting pressures ?(From long time Social Security opponents like Peter G. Peterson and his foundation, e.g.

To be fair to Obama, he didn't originally pervert the meaning of "entitlement" to include Social Security, Medicare etc. That was due to Peterson, who has had a boner to gut all the social insurance programs since 1981, when he "helped to form the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget"

Then, in 1992, unsatisfied with the pace of change (and disappointed that the Reaganites didn't really cut S.S. as much as he wanted - only raised the retirement age to 66) he formed the Concord Coalition "whose mission - according to its website- includes 'educating the public about the long term challenges facing America's unsustainable entitlement programs."

His Foundation also made and promoted a propaganda movie entitled I.O.U.S.A. especially intended to fuck the minds of the young and anyone else dumb enough to believe Oldsters are wrecking the country with mounting debt.

The authors note that Peterson has been "omnipresent in most of the deficit debates that have occupied Obama's presidency" and even worse, "his son Michael, who is president of his Foundation is on the board of directors together with Alan Simpson and Ernest Bowles of  an organization called 'Fix the Debt"

Again, these were the same two luminaries Obama appointed to head his commission. As for 'Fix the Debt' - I already skewered these assholes in a previous post, e.g.

As for Altman and Klingson, their take on this pack of miscreants and liars is most enlightening (p. 154):

"The hypocrisy of Fix the Debt is remarkable. Fix the Debt claims to want to reduce the federal deficit but nearly half of its board and steering committee members have ties to companies that lobby hard to preserve corporate tax breaks. Among its leadership are seventy-one CEOs heading publicly held companies.

Fifty-four of them, according to a 2012 report, had personal saving in their firms retirement plans totaling $649 million or an average of $12 million each, which annuitized at age 65 would provide each with $66,000 a month in retirement benefits."

So, it's okay for these pigs to live high on the hog, but meanwhile they wish to brand Social Security as an "entitlement" and reduce its benefits to one single small stipend of about $400 a month. Can you say disgusting?

Keep track of this word and how often it's bandied about in the weeks and months ahead as the same parasites reprise their roles and renew their efforts to make sure you eat cat food - or dog shit - in your old age.

You've been warned!

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