On “taxes” and other words as propaganda, and filtering fact from fiction

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The best blogger on politics I know is a retired guy in Los Angeles. Alan, aka Just Above Sunset, offers very long commentaries six days a week, summarizing what other well informed people are saying about political issues of the day. His posts typically arrive in my e-box about 2 a.m. I always scan their contents, but don’t always read them in detail.

Today’s Just Above Sunset, “Just Words Alone”, fits like a glove the topic I have been forming in my mind for a long time, ” “Taxes” and other words”. If you dislike long pieces of writing, at least read his first five paragraphs, then perhaps half way down read the three paragraphs which start with “Maybe words alone don’t create reality after all….”

We have been captured by wordsmiths who have created a “reality” that isn’t at all “real”, and in a few weeks (if we haven’t already voted) we will make extremely important decisions based on what we have been told to believe. Fantasy replacing reality is a very dangerous way to make decisions.

For years I have known that people like Grover Norquist, Karl Rove, Frank Luntz, Newt Gingrich and others had decided to create certain words and phrases as representative of evil, and to then attach those words to despicable people like myself, who they have labeled as “liberal”, “Democrat”, “union”…. Such lists are easily available on the internet and have a long history.

So when a nice lady in my town, Kelly DeBrine, said she wanted an “open, honest chat on taxes” in the July 18, 2012, Woodbury Bulletin, and the editor of the Bulletin supported this chat, I decided to go to her meeting on July 31.

The room was packed, and Ms DeBrine and colleagues had a very orderly conversation involving what appeared to be about 50 of we citizens, divided into table groups of six or so, almost no one I’d ever met before.

We never really talked about Taxes on July 31, a frustration to many attendees. Rather we talked about our Priorities – what was it that we wanted from our community (which, by extension, would require expenditure of tax dollars.)

We met, mostly civilly, and departed.

There hasn’t been another such conversation.

But in preparing for that meeting, I decided to make a list of what I would call “synonyms” for “taxes”, since I have observed that Republicans hate the word “taxes”, and try to make only the Democrats responsible for such an outrageous term.

I created an interesting and doubtless only partial list of these synonyms for payment of services we expect from our government which somehow are or must be paid at least in part by government:
Penalty
License
Fine
Fee
Dues
Assessment
Surcharge
Premium
Tuition
Interest (on borrowed money; bonding)
“Borrowing” from other entities, as from school districts, as an alternative to state taxes
Accounting Shifts (from state to local; from one tax year to another, etc.)
Gambling revenue
Naming Rights for buildings
Mandating things but not funding them, while expecting results
Tax cuts and rebates
PROFITS….

Yes PROFITS.

I emphasize PROFIT as a form of tax, largely thanks to U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts who upheld the Affordable Care Act this summer, saying that the proposed Penalties to people who refused to buy Health Insurance premiums were in fact legal Taxes. It was Roberts who decided to use the word “taxes”, which was immediately attached to Democrats.

But, the beneficiaries of this legal TAX are not only the persons who buy the insurance, but the insurance companies who hold the policies.

Thanks to a friend who’s a retired vice-president of a major state-wide health insurance provider, PROFIT is a big part of these Penalties. “Medicare operates on 1-2% administrative costs. Blue Cross plans operate on 10% and other insurance companies are upwards of that, sometimes approaching 30% and 40%. The Affordable Care Act reins in some of those outrageous insurance company profits.”

We won’t rein in WORDS as PROPAGANDA any time soon, and we have weeks to go till the bombardment of television advertising ceases, but we do have control of our own ability to discern fact from fiction.

We are well advised to do so.