Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Political Sides: Choose at your own risk

Go ahead, take a side. Which of these two list of reforms are you behind?

List A.
  • End the long-term unemployment crisis
  • Tear down the welfare bureaucracy
  • Eliminate job-killing income, payroll, and corporate taxes
  • Have Social Security invest in the private sector, not the government
  • Help small businesses grow

Details found here.

List B.
  • Guaranteed Work for Everybody
  • Social Security for All
  • Take Back The Land
  • Make Everything Owned by Everybody
  • A Public Bank in Every State

Details found here.

Those bullet points don't give you much to go on, but chances are they at least trigger some reactions. I can hear my conservative friends freaking out: Guaranteed work for Everybody is Socialism, yuck! And my Democratic friends are turning up their noses at Help small businesses grow, yeah, right, that's just code for screwing workers.

Of course, you've probably guessed the catch by now: the above sets of polices are actually the same, they are just written using different language.

A bit of background. On Jan. 3, Jesse Myerson published an article in Rolling Stone with the innocuous title "Five Economic Reforms Millennials Should Be Fighting For." [that's list B above] Myerson frames his agenda as an effort to do away with unemployment, jobs, landlords, private capital ownership and Wall Street. Those last four, as you might expect, made conservatives' heads explode.
But the policies Myerson advocates are rather less radical. His agenda, at its core, calls for a work guarantee, a basic minimum income, a land-value tax, a sovereign wealth fund and a public banking option. As Dylan Matthews noticed, all these policies that Republicans were labeling as socialism have been endorsed by major conservatives. So he rewrote Myerson's piece from the conservative point of view, advocating all the same policies but changing those cited as authorities and those blamed for the state of the economy.
Two articles both advocating the exact same policies. But one of them thrilled liberals and infuriated conservatives. The other infuriated liberals and thrilled conservatives.

In many respects, this sort of thinking may be The Cause Of, and Solution To, Our political problems. It's no wonder we have gridlock when we can't even agree on the things we agree on.

I don't know what the fix is, but if we can find a way to untangle some of this nonsense, it would be huge.

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