How to talk about Economics: A guide for Changing the Story

Being careful with wording is wise. Issues are often best approached from the side. I’ll leave the frontal assault technique to you.

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Well, at least you’re consistent.


@AndrewDowning, Thankyou for your reply.

Actually, I did not reinforce their position. I do not support their social position. However, in their means, I do see the merit. As @davidb states in his comments, re-framing is a discussion tool for constructing an argument in terms you’d prefer to use, and it is useful and legitimate. For the record I am libertarian.

Yes. I agree with you. Again, I was stating the social progressivist position, as presented in the guide. I actually think they are wrong in their economic opinions. I abhor collectivism.

I think there are governance issues with corporations, but not the same issues as the socialist, and not what you are talking about either. Corporations are in themselves centralised powers. I object to any centralised power. Corporations, in my opinion, reduce the nett economic opportunities. Massive corporations squeeze other players out of the marketplace killing countless jobs for every one they create, and make self-reinforcing monopolies that lock ut competition. I think Thomas Pickety “Capital” is worth a read on this, as is Scott Galloway “The Four”.

If you want my solution for fixing the economy and empowering people at the same time. I’d put a one percent tax on land, and the same on the market capitalisation of listed companies payable by the company. This should be used to fund Minimum Basic Income, as per Rutger Bregman “Utopia for Realists”, To build on it, I’d then move the whole scheme in to a blockchain (or other distributed ledger) to keep the money out of the hands of government.

Yes. Social progressivism without economic progressivity, in my opinion, stands to much risk of becoming to heavy in government and descending to communism. Utopian dreams can only become reality if you strive to go the whole way.

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Woohoo! Now we’re talking.

Another solution is to just move the whole economy to blockchain, and include a small % inflation as an alternative to tax. No more income tax. No more sales tax. No more tax returns. No need for economic surveillance. Distributed economic models designed to maximise opportunity by preventing monopolisation of business logistics and payment channels, no combined debt/money-supply based boom/recession cycles, etc etc etc. and we still get money for the social programmes that are required.

We’re a little ways off from realistically being able to implement that, but perhaps closer than many people think.
I watched a video this morning about an interview with IBM’s head of blockchain development. He was reported to have said that the big 1st world central banks were a lot further ahead in their blockchain developments than the commercial banks. As soon as one issues their currency as a blockchain token, there will be a rush to compete by the others, because there will be a first mover advantage - people/businesses will want to trade in/out of stable government backed tokens in global 24/7 exchanges.

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One step at a time. And an important key to avoiding authoritarianism, is to educate everyone along the way.


Getting back on topic (How to talk about Economics); listening to debate about the budget, I’m struck by the slanted terminology. Even the Opposition uses terms like “tax relief”. It’s as if paying a fair share of the cost of running the nation is some unbearable burden.

Is that a good message to be sending? What term could be used in place of “tax relief”?

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Well, 10% of the working population pays over 50% of the income tax. Good luck convincing them it’s not a burden or their “fair share”.


If true, is that unfair?

Residing in a nation, the citizen enters into a social contract. Taxation is part of that contract. Any citizen who dislikes the terms of the contract is free to find a place with more agreeable terms.


So, True, but is it fair?
Harder to say.
They’re not only paying a disproportionately large chunk of the tax, it’s also a disproportionately larger percentage of their income. If you account for benefits gained, as in return for tax paid, then the only people paying a net positive tax are those earning over 200k. Basically, they pay for everyone that isn’t paying their own way.

That’s ok, but you probably shouldn’t bite the hand that feeds you.

This is true, and they do, and the people that leave are amongst the most competent. Australia incurs the cost to raise and educate them, and then they go.
I’ve personally watched numerous colleagues relocate to the US with Amazon or other big US companies. These companies do recruitment road trips across Australia, just scooping up the best talent they can dislodge.


Are they though? Is it though?

From the article:

The progressive nature of income taxation in Australia plays a very significant role in altering the distribution of disposable income (after-tax) and provides Australia with a more equal distribution of disposable income.

Taxes are the dues we pay for living in a civilised society. In this society, taxation is scaled according to capacity to pay. Any who want to freeload are free to do so elsewhere.

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Well, if you’re planning on changing terminology, you might start by refraining from calling the people who pay for just about everything, “freeloaders”.

I don’t object to the progressive tax at all, but I don’t think the endless bashing of high income earners who fund the whole social security system, is actually useful. You really don’t want them to leave. That would be really bad.


If they pay, then are they freeloaders?

What I said was

So, if they:

was I referring to them? As I said, if they want to freeload, they can do so elsewhere.

So we’re agreed that progressive taxation is fair and proportionate. Glad we cleared that up.

I guess it depends on priorities. Do we really want to be surrounded by bludgers who whine about paying their fair share?

That brings the corporate sector to mind. Wonder why?

Would it? Is anyone irreplaceable?

Anyway, back to where we started. The term “tax relief” invokes an unhealthy frame. What would work better from a Progressive perspective?

“Heroes of the revenue”? :thinking: Maybe not.

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Individually yes, collectively no.
Peoples capabilities are actually incredibly unequal.
That sucks a bit, but such is life.

Both sides of politics seems to be deluded about this in their own way. The left seems to just deny it and claim discrimination causes everything, and the right seems to think they should just work harder and everything will work out. Both are dreadfully incomplete explanations.

At a policy/political level, we deal with the collective.
This is the same reason we consider educational attainment and other skill indicators for immigration.

So they’re “bludgers” now, when they question whether they should be paying all the tax?
Offending people is not a good motivator.

Sounds like a Stalinist slogan, so probably not.

Acknowledgement of the scale of their contribution, combined with strategy to lift median wages might go a long way.

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Are they paying all the tax?
You yourself said:

So we’re agreed that progressive taxation is fair.

So taxation is not a problem. Nobody needs “tax relief”. So the term is Conservative propaganda. What Lakoff might have labelled framing the discussion.

Back to the original question:
what term could we employ to invoke a healthier frame?

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You’re playing silly word games.
The fact that I don’t object to a progressive tax does not mean there is no problem or that a minority of the population isn’t aware they are paying for most everyone else.

My concern with this right from the start is being confirmed. You don’t want to use new words to better communicate reality. You want to use new words to paint a convenient lie.

And then you spin this conversation to suggest we haven’t been talking about the frame at all. Next thing you’ll be telling me that love is hate.

As far as you’ve been able to show, the lie is that anyone needs “relief” from paying their fair share. Some might sulk about being required to pay according to their capacity, but that’s all you’ve come up with.

So, who is the target audience for this new wording?

It can’t be the people paying most of the tax, because so far you’ve described them as sulky, conservative, bludgers, would-be freeloaders and it’s clear you think they’re all replaceable, and don’t really care what they think as long as they pay up.

So is the new wording supposed to target the recipients of this welfare?
Is it to make them feel better about receiving welfare?
Who’s perspective do you want to change?

You finally concede that nobody needs “relief” from doing their share. About time!

Who’s the target audience for the “tax relief” propaganda? Sound like a good place to start?

Huh? I didn’t say anything if the sort, besides which it’s irrelevant, because if you are trying to change public perception, then what matters is public opinion, particularly amongst those being expected to pay.

And the target audience for the “tax relief” propaganda is obviously the 10% of workers paying 50% of the tax that you’ve spent most of this conversation marginalising while I keep pointing at them as the obvious target.
I’ve also laid out the facts behind many of their concerns. If your response to my laying these things out is indicative of the new language you have in mind, then I don’t think you’re on a winner.

I want to see how you will frame this.
They already know that they lose 50ish% as tax on any new income they might strive for and they’re wondering why they should bother.
You can’t frame that out of existence.
You’d need the framing to somehow express what they’re getting in return in a way that they’d care about. Almost by definition, people in that pay range are intelligent, competitive and results driven.

There’s your profile.
What frame do you have for them?

The guide is really just the standards of politics - sell your vision, attack the opponents weaknesses. The whole technocratic veneer of politicians was just packaging for this core, the policy wonkery and numbers bickering never sold anyone on anything aside from a feeling that maybe these people knew what they were doing. A few decades of politician’s confidence gaming and then proving they didn’t know what they were doing has degraded that veneer and now people rightly turn their brains off to that stuff. Policy details is for after you’ve been persuaded the general idea is what you want.

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