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Framing: the art of telling the truth, dishonestly
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blondgecko
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Oct 15, 2011, 9:05 PM
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Framing: the art of telling the truth, dishonestly
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This article in the NY Times really struck me as a particularly egregious example: The Milquetoast Radicals.

This bit in particular is, while factually correct, 100% dishonest:

In reply to:
If there is a core theme to the Occupy Wall Street movement, it is that the virtuous 99 percent of society is being cheated by the richest and greediest 1 percent.

This is a theme that allows the people in the 99 percent to think very highly of themselves. All their problems are caused by the nefarious elite.

Unfortunately, almost no problem can be productively conceived in this way. A group that divides the world between the pure 99 percent and the evil 1 percent will have nothing to say about education reform, Medicare reform, tax reform, wage stagnation or polarization. They will have nothing to say about the way Americans have overconsumed and overborrowed. These are problems that implicate a much broader swath of society than the top 1 percent.

By framing OWS as a "morality" question, he's able to say that they're being stupid by focusing on only 1% of the population. But unless I'm missing something, OWS isn't about people so much as money. Look at it in those terms, and that 99% vs. 1% suddenly becomes 60% vs. 40% - and doesn't look nearly as stupid. Particularly so, since that 1% figure was pretty much pulled out of the air.

Then there's this lovely little bit of misdirection:

In reply to:
They will have no realistic proposal to reduce the debt or sustain the welfare state. Even if you tax away 50 percent of the income of those making between $1 million and $10 million, you only reduce the national debt by 1 percent, according to the Tax Foundation. If you confiscate all the income of those making more than $10 million, you reduce the debt by 2 percent. You would still be nibbling only meekly around the edges.

A debt reduction of 1% doesn't sound like much, does it? Until you realise that's 1% per year, and start thinking in terms of loan repayment terms.

To put it on more familiar terms, consider a standard 30-year home loan repayment schedule. I did the math, and if you pay exactly at the required rate, in the first year you'll have paid off just under 1.5% of the principal. Increase that to 2.5% and continue your repayments at the same rate throughout the lifetime of the loan, and you'll be debt-free 7 and a half years early. 1% doesn't sound so small in those terms, huh?


Seriously, so much straw has been burned in the media responding to Occupy Wall Street, I'm surprised they're even bothering to shape in into vaguely humanoid forms before torching it. Why not just set the field on fire and be done with it?


blondgecko
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Oct 15, 2011, 9:13 PM
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Re: [blondgecko] Framing: the art of telling the truth, dishonestly [In reply to]
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Also skewered here - by both the blogger and (refreshingly) the majority of the commenters.


yanqui


Oct 16, 2011, 5:47 AM
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Re: [blondgecko] Framing: the art of telling the truth, dishonestly [In reply to]
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blondgecko wrote:
This article in the NY Times really struck me as a particularly egregious example: The Milquetoast Radicals.

This bit in particular is, while factually correct, 100% dishonest:

In reply to:
If there is a core theme to the Occupy Wall Street movement, it is that the virtuous 99 percent of society is being cheated by the richest and greediest 1 percent.

This is a theme that allows the people in the 99 percent to think very highly of themselves. All their problems are caused by the nefarious elite.

Unfortunately, almost no problem can be productively conceived in this way. A group that divides the world between the pure 99 percent and the evil 1 percent will have nothing to say about education reform, Medicare reform, tax reform, wage stagnation or polarization. They will have nothing to say about the way Americans have overconsumed and overborrowed. These are problems that implicate a much broader swath of society than the top 1 percent.

By framing OWS as a "morality" question, he's able to say that they're being stupid by focusing on only 1% of the population. But unless I'm missing something, OWS isn't about people so much as money. Look at it in those terms, and that 99% vs. 1% suddenly becomes 60% vs. 40% - and doesn't look nearly as stupid. Particularly so, since that 1% figure was pretty much pulled out of the air.

Then there's this lovely little bit of misdirection:

In reply to:
They will have no realistic proposal to reduce the debt or sustain the welfare state. Even if you tax away 50 percent of the income of those making between $1 million and $10 million, you only reduce the national debt by 1 percent, according to the Tax Foundation. If you confiscate all the income of those making more than $10 million, you reduce the debt by 2 percent. You would still be nibbling only meekly around the edges.

A debt reduction of 1% doesn't sound like much, does it? Until you realise that's 1% per year, and start thinking in terms of loan repayment terms.

To put it on more familiar terms, consider a standard 30-year home loan repayment schedule. I did the math, and if you pay exactly at the required rate, in the first year you'll have paid off just under 1.5% of the principal. Increase that to 2.5% and continue your repayments at the same rate throughout the lifetime of the loan, and you'll be debt-free 7 and a half years early. 1% doesn't sound so small in those terms, huh?


Seriously, so much straw has been burned in the media responding to Occupy Wall Street, I'm surprised they're even bothering to shape in into vaguely humanoid forms before torching it. Why not just set the field on fire and be done with it?

Yeah that's REALLY stupid. Brooks can be such an idiot sometimes. I don't think he means it, I just think he's not the sharpest cookie in the cutter. A 1% annual debt reduction would totally solve the debt problem. The last prolonged debt reduction began at the end of WW2 (when the richest bracket was taxed at 90%) and continued to 1980 when taxes on the wealthy were slashed. There was a small blip during the end of the Clinton administration, but basically the debt has gone up, up, up since . The problem now is to try to find a way get the deficit half way under control under.

A chart of US debt as a function of GDP:




scrapedape


Oct 16, 2011, 8:07 AM
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Re: [yanqui] Framing: the art of telling the truth, dishonestly [In reply to]
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blondgecko wrote:
This article in the NY Times really struck me as a particularly egregious example: The Milquetoast Radicals.

This bit in particular is, while factually correct, 100% dishonest:

In reply to:
If there is a core theme to the Occupy Wall Street movement, it is that the virtuous 99 percent of society is being cheated by the richest and greediest 1 percent.

This is a theme that allows the people in the 99 percent to think very highly of themselves. All their problems are caused by the nefarious elite.

Unfortunately, almost no problem can be productively conceived in this way. A group that divides the world between the pure 99 percent and the evil 1 percent will have nothing to say about education reform, Medicare reform, tax reform, wage stagnation or polarization. They will have nothing to say about the way Americans have overconsumed and overborrowed. These are problems that implicate a much broader swath of society than the top 1 percent.

By framing OWS as a "morality" question, he's able to say that they're being stupid by focusing on only 1% of the population. But unless I'm missing something, OWS isn't about people so much as money. Look at it in those terms, and that 99% vs. 1% suddenly becomes 60% vs. 40% - and doesn't look nearly as stupid. Particularly so, since that 1% figure was pretty much pulled out of the air.

Not really sure what you're trying to say here. You can do better than that.

In reply to:


Then there's this lovely little bit of misdirection:

In reply to:
They will have no realistic proposal to reduce the debt or sustain the welfare state. Even if you tax away 50 percent of the income of those making between $1 million and $10 million, you only reduce the national debt by 1 percent, according to the Tax Foundation. If you confiscate all the income of those making more than $10 million, you reduce the debt by 2 percent. You would still be nibbling only meekly around the edges.

A debt reduction of 1% doesn't sound like much, does it? Until you realise that's 1% per year, and start thinking in terms of loan repayment terms.

To put it on more familiar terms, consider a standard 30-year home loan repayment schedule. I did the math, and if you pay exactly at the required rate, in the first year you'll have paid off just under 1.5% of the principal. Increase that to 2.5% and continue your repayments at the same rate throughout the lifetime of the loan, and you'll be debt-free 7 and a half years early. 1% doesn't sound so small in those terms, huh?


Seriously, so much straw has been burned in the media responding to Occupy Wall Street, I'm surprised they're even bothering to shape in into vaguely humanoid forms before torching it. Why not just set the field on fire and be done with it?

Pretty hard to excuse that obfuscation, yes. More useful comparisons would seem to be the magnitude of total income of the top X percent vs national deficit, or magnitude of total net worth of the top X percent vs national debt. But frankly I'd rather not go down that road because making those comparisons simply opens one up to accusations that one is actually proposing to nationalize the assets of a portion of the country's citizens.

yanqui wrote:
Yeah that's REALLY stupid. Brooks can be such an idiot sometimes. I don't think he means it, I just think he's not the sharpest cookie in the cutter.

Was that bit of irony deliberate?

In reply to:
A 1% annual debt reduction would totally solve the debt problem. The last prolonged debt reduction began at the end of WW2 (when the richest bracket was taxed at 90%) and continued to 1980 when taxes on the wealthy were slashed. There was a small blip during the end of the Clinton administration, but basically the debt has gone up, up, up since . The problem now is to try to find a way get the deficit half way under control under.

A chart of US debt as a function of GDP:


Not sure if you're being facetious about 1% annual reduction solving the problem, but I think 1% per year would actually be adequate progress, as long as economic growth resumes. The thing to remember when looking at your chart is that over the 1945-1980 period when debt/GDP was cut by more than half, much if not most of that was driven by GDP growth rather than debt reduction.


yanqui


Oct 16, 2011, 8:51 AM
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Re: [scrapedape] Framing: the art of telling the truth, dishonestly [In reply to]
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Was something I said unclear? While growth in GDP was slightly higher from 1945-1980 (a few tenths of a percentage point) I don't think that in itself accounts for the radical change in the graph after 1980. At any rate, any change in the trend over the last 30 years would be huge progress. Even achieving 0% growth in the debt would be a huge step forward. So I don't know what the hell Brooks was talking about in his commentary, belittling a 1% decrease. A 1% annual decline in debt would be a huge success. HUGE.


(This post was edited by yanqui on Oct 16, 2011, 8:56 AM)


blondgecko
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Oct 17, 2011, 4:45 PM
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Re: [scrapedape] Framing: the art of telling the truth, dishonestly [In reply to]
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scrapedape wrote:
blondgecko wrote:
This article in the NY Times really struck me as a particularly egregious example: The Milquetoast Radicals.

This bit in particular is, while factually correct, 100% dishonest:

In reply to:
If there is a core theme to the Occupy Wall Street movement, it is that the virtuous 99 percent of society is being cheated by the richest and greediest 1 percent.

This is a theme that allows the people in the 99 percent to think very highly of themselves. All their problems are caused by the nefarious elite.

Unfortunately, almost no problem can be productively conceived in this way. A group that divides the world between the pure 99 percent and the evil 1 percent will have nothing to say about education reform, Medicare reform, tax reform, wage stagnation or polarization. They will have nothing to say about the way Americans have overconsumed and overborrowed. These are problems that implicate a much broader swath of society than the top 1 percent.

By framing OWS as a "morality" question, he's able to say that they're being stupid by focusing on only 1% of the population. But unless I'm missing something, OWS isn't about people so much as money. Look at it in those terms, and that 99% vs. 1% suddenly becomes 60% vs. 40% - and doesn't look nearly as stupid. Particularly so, since that 1% figure was pretty much pulled out of the air.

Not really sure what you're trying to say here. You can do better than that.

My bad, I guess. To spell it out (hopefully) more clearly, he's trying to frame the whole thing as a moral argument, with 99% of people ganging up on the poor little 1% minority and foolishly expecting that to solve all the problems. However, what he conveniently leaves out is that that 1% of people holds control of 40% of all private resources - a small fact which entirely changes the picture.

Note the little sleight-of-hand with the taxation figures as well. Tax those earning between $1-10 million by 50%, and you get a 1% reduction in debt. Take <i>all</> of the money of those earning above $10 million, and you get a 2% reduction in debt. Therefore, taxing those earning above $10 million by 50% gives you a 1% reduction - on top of the 1% gained by taxing those earning $1-10 million. Now we're talking 2% - an enormous dent in the debt if continued year-on-year. So I wonder why it was presented the way it was?


scrapedape


Oct 18, 2011, 6:08 AM
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Re: [blondgecko] Framing: the art of telling the truth, dishonestly [In reply to]
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blondgecko wrote:
scrapedape wrote:
blondgecko wrote:
This article in the NY Times really struck me as a particularly egregious example: The Milquetoast Radicals.

This bit in particular is, while factually correct, 100% dishonest:

In reply to:
If there is a core theme to the Occupy Wall Street movement, it is that the virtuous 99 percent of society is being cheated by the richest and greediest 1 percent.

This is a theme that allows the people in the 99 percent to think very highly of themselves. All their problems are caused by the nefarious elite.

Unfortunately, almost no problem can be productively conceived in this way. A group that divides the world between the pure 99 percent and the evil 1 percent will have nothing to say about education reform, Medicare reform, tax reform, wage stagnation or polarization. They will have nothing to say about the way Americans have overconsumed and overborrowed. These are problems that implicate a much broader swath of society than the top 1 percent.

By framing OWS as a "morality" question, he's able to say that they're being stupid by focusing on only 1% of the population. But unless I'm missing something, OWS isn't about people so much as money. Look at it in those terms, and that 99% vs. 1% suddenly becomes 60% vs. 40% - and doesn't look nearly as stupid. Particularly so, since that 1% figure was pretty much pulled out of the air.

Not really sure what you're trying to say here. You can do better than that.

My bad, I guess. To spell it out (hopefully) more clearly, he's trying to frame the whole thing as a moral argument, with 99% of people ganging up on the poor little 1% minority and foolishly expecting that to solve all the problems. However, what he conveniently leaves out is that that 1% of people holds control of 40% of all private resources - a small fact which entirely changes the picture.

I'm still not sure that I'm getting the point.

The 99% thing seems to be the product of some of the OWS crowd themselves. They're the ones that have turned it into a rallying cry.

Maybe I need another cup of coffee.

In reply to:
Note the little sleight-of-hand with the taxation figures as well. Tax those earning between $1-10 million by 50%, and you get a 1% reduction in debt. Take <i>all</> of the money of those earning above $10 million, and you get a 2% reduction in debt. Therefore, taxing those earning above $10 million by 50% gives you a 1% reduction - on top of the 1% gained by taxing those earning $1-10 million. Now we're talking 2% - an enormous dent in the debt if continued year-on-year. So I wonder why it was presented the way it was?

I agree with you there, but I would also point out that with all of those folks already taxed at 35%, raising their rate to 50% would yield only about a third of the 2% estimate. Unless that was already factored in.


rmsusa


Oct 20, 2011, 5:12 PM
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Re: [blondgecko] Framing: the art of telling the truth, dishonestly [In reply to]
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So I wonder why it was presented the way it was?

To make his point. Everybody frames to fit their beliefs. That's you, me and that guy over there, too.

Pot, kettle, black?


blondgecko
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Oct 20, 2011, 6:56 PM
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Re: [rmsusa] Framing: the art of telling the truth, dishonestly [In reply to]
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rmsusa wrote:
In reply to:
So I wonder why it was presented the way it was?

To makeprovide false support for his misleading point. Everybody frames to fit their beliefs. That's you, me and that guy over there, too.

Pot, kettle, black?

Fixed that for you. If you think that this article is an acceptable piece of rhetoric, then it's no wonder we rarely see eye to eye. We're not playing the same game.


rmsusa


Oct 22, 2011, 6:48 PM
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Re: [blondgecko] Framing: the art of telling the truth, dishonestly [In reply to]
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Great illustration.


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