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


(Andrew Downing) #21

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.


(David Boxall) #22

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.


(Andrew Downing) #23

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.


(David Boxall) #24

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?


(Andrew Downing) #25

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.


(David Boxall) #26

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.


(Andrew Downing) #27

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?


(David Boxall) #28

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?


(Andrew Downing) #29

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?