Archive for Friday, September 21, 2012

Labels make compromise harder

September 21, 2012


Labeling others. I’m tired of it. You should be tired of it, also. We label those who disagree with us so we can discount their opinions, values and intelligence. It’s convenient to our point of view, but it’s terribly unfair to everyone.

They’re “tea baggers” (oohh, now I feel superior). They’re “bleeding heart liberals” (how can they be so stupid). They’re too old, too young, too lazy, too dumb. Wow, I’m feeling better about myself already.

Amazing how when we try to denigrate someone who see’s the world differently than us, that it somehow empowers us. Yes, even tacitly proves our point.

We even label ourselves. I’m a liberal. I’m a conservative. I’m a going to be sick.

This is the age we live in but please stop the labeling. It’s not helpful.

Our country is facing many difficult choices. Do we fund national health insurance, or the war in Afghanistan, or extend unemployment benefits, or rebuild our country’s infrastructure, or reduce the size of government, or increase subsidies to farmers, or increase Medicaid benefits?

Choices. The devil’s in the details. I’m OK with you getting what you want as long as I get what I want. Unfortunately, it’s easy to want things, but not necessarily easy to pay for them. Just ask the parent of any teenager.

Some of us act like teenagers. We raise our voices, we glare, we pout and then we resort to the name-calling. “You’re not listening? I said I want (fill in your demand here).”

But just as most parents can’t afford to give in to their teenagers’ “demands,” neither can our country come up with all the services and programs to satisfy all of “our demands.” There’s just not enough money.

The Republican and Democratic parties are controlled and funded by the extreme voices in their party (if this is you, insert your label of me here). The overwhelming majority of Americans (now there’s a label we can all be proud of) are much more alike than they are different.

We value friends and family. We’re thankful for our jobs (even if our boss is “stupid.” Oops, another label). We want our parents and grandparents to have Medicare and Social Security. We want our troops to be safe. We want safe roads, quality schools. We want low-interest student loans and affordable tuition. Two-dollar-a-gallon gas. Now we’re talking.

Well, there’s some good news and bad news. The good news is we can have anything we want. The bad news is we can’t have everything we want. There’s the rub. That means that both sides are going to have to compromise. Everyone has to give up something they want for the greater good.

What is the greater good? It’s long-term financial solvency of our country. In short, we have to be able to afford to pay for the things we want. Not just this year, but for our lifetime.

Today our country borrows 43 cents for every dollar it spends. This level of debt is unsustainable. What if your family did this? How long would you be able to stay afloat? What would you have to do? Most likely cut back on spending. If possible, you would try to increase income/revenues. Our country will need to do both. That means ALL of us will have to resist the urge to demand that our government meet all of our desires.

The most recent successful example of a president bringing both sides together was during President Clinton’s second term. His ability to compromise with a Republican-controlled Congress led to the last time we had a balanced budget. Neither side can claim victory without the other.

Regardless of who is elected president, that person is going to have to seek compromise, not partisanship. The labeling and name-calling will not be conducive to putting our country on the path to financial solvency.

When you place your vote, cast it for the man who you think will do the best job of bringing opposing viewpoints together, not driving a wedge between them.

— Kevin Kaye is a Lawrence resident.


George Lippencott 1 year, 6 months ago

And another point. The way you wrote your comment essentially calls anybody that disagrees with you on this issue a liar

"One can see the stubborn adherence to things that aren't true - it's baffling to me, but there it is.

Why do people like to do that?"

A very minipulative way to demonize every poster who disagreed with you. Who do you think you are fooling?


jafs 1 year, 6 months ago

One can see the stubborn adherence to things that aren't true - it's baffling to me, but there it is.

Why do people like to do that?

Romney's remarks are clearly and obviously incorrect, if one does even a little bit of research.

And, ascribing a certain mentality and mindset to almost half the country without any evidence at all makes no sense.

Also, for the record, I'm not anybody's "opponent". My primary interest is in the truth and reality, and I try to form my opinions after finding out about those. When Obama oversimplifies and spins/misrepresents things, or his supporters do, I point that out as well.

I will vote for Obama, but not because I think he's perfect - he's just the better choice for me than Romney.

And, it's not because he's promising me "goodies" or anything like that. I think that generally speaking, his policies make more sense.


George Lippencott 1 year, 6 months ago

Not what JAFS Said

Again anr interpretation of events by an opponent. I would argue that all those groups are represented in the set that do not pay taxes even if they are not a collective set.

Perhaps all "conservatives" should only say/write comprehensive and integrated tracts of many thousands of words to make clear what they mean.

While on the other hand Liberals rush to "revise and extend" remarks made by their "leaders" to make sure we all understand what would have been in the thousand of pages they did no0t provide.

What a fripping double standard.


jafs 1 year, 6 months ago

If all Romney had said was that 47% of the population doesn't pay federal income taxes, he would have been right.

Unfortunately for him, he said a lot more.

He lumped three groups together that are mostly distinct:

Obama supporters Those who pay no federal income taxes Those who are dependent on government assistance

Most Obama supporters aren't members of the next two groups. In the second group, we find elderly folks on SS and the working poor, for the most part, as well as some rather well-off people. The third group contains rural white folks as a percentage, who tend to vote R.

My source is a story on my home page the other day that analyzed the three groups and provided information about them.

Also, he claimed not only that the three groups are the same, which is false, but ascribed an entitlement mentality to them without offering any evidence of that.

And, his comment that it's not his job to worry about those people seems self-evident to me.

If he's elected, he wants to represent the mythical 53% that he's created in his mind, the mythical self-reliant well off people who don't depend on the government in any way, and who don't feel entitled to government assistance.

The fact that a bunch of well off people don't pay federal income taxes, or that a number of people who vote R depend on government assistance, or are in fact government employees, retirees, etc. seems to have been lost on him, as well as on many people on here.


George Lippencott 1 year, 6 months ago

While I agree, there is another shoe. Labeling someone's opinion as misinformation, lies, distortions tends to constrain discussion.

Once that starts we devolve into a spiral that leads to labeling the person and demeaning their worth.

What we should be seeing is data that supports one's version of "the facts" or en explanation of an interpretation of your own statement.s Restating your opinions view or reintrepreting them is atg best manipulative - that should be left to him/her

"You did not build that" is certainly subject to interpretation and frankly only Mr. Obama knows what he meant.

The 47 percent comment is subject to interpretation and frankly only Mr. Romney knows what he really meant.

I would submit that there is room in the language to claim he does not wish to represent half the population and their is room to intrepid his comment exactly as stated - half of us for m,any reasons (some listed) do not pay federal income taxes.

The real issue is why. Are all the reasons for not paying taxes legitimate. Can we afford to exempt so many people. Who (if anybody) is hurt by our decisions? Is our current tax system supported by the people or (fill in blank).

But then ideologues will be ideologues.


tange 1 year, 6 months ago

I don't know about the rest of you, but my Dymo is a dynamo!


jayhawklawrence 1 year, 6 months ago

"We label those who disagree with us so we can discount their opinions, values and intelligence."

How true. I remember reading this a couple of days ago and repeating it over and over again and hoping that I could always remember it when confronted with a "labeler".

Because it is a very powerful weapon it is used often and most people are duped by labels.

Another unfortunate reality is that we tend to live up to expectations. It is a psychological weakness inherent in all of us. When someone is labeled a trouble maker in school or ignorant or worthless, they will strive sub-consciously to be exactly that. Teachers that are able to understand how to change a person's self image and rebuild their confidence are what we need desparately today.

That is the real damage done by many politiicians today. They do not understand how their rhetoric is actually damaging the people of this country or else they do not seem to care.


Trumbull 1 year, 6 months ago

I think labeling is lowest common denominator thinking, where one creates groups that can either be praised or villified. Black and white thinking that ignores different shades of colors. I would consider myself a liberal, but dislike being labeled as a liberal, because I am always open to other ideas and do not marry myself to ideaology. Different times call for different measures. Labeling places limits on thought.


Ken Lassman 1 year, 6 months ago

I think the message that Bill Clinton has been promoting at the Democratic Convention and elsewhere is relevant to the discussion: the economics of today's world works best when we put our labels aside and work collaboratively, not exclusively. The gated community approach to the world is not nearly as competitive in today's global climate as when the political parties find common ground, team up with the business and nonprofit communities and create a "can do" environment. Clinton's pragmatism aspires to create a clear-eyed analysis of what the situation is, what each party brings to the table, what each party can do to contribute to a creating a conducive environment that leads to a win-win-win environment.

Clinton's talks are peppered with real-world successes where folks put their differences aside and worked in the common ground arena, resulting in exceeded expectations all around. I think Bob Dole has had an excellent track record in this arena as well, lest folks think I'm being partisan. Does this mean that there are not failures in using this approach? Of course not. But I'll take this non-ideologically-driven, pragmatic, clear-eyed approach to things any day over the acrid politics of exclusion and blame that has driven so much of our country's stagnation of late.


Liberty275 1 year, 6 months ago

Labels are just intellectual shortcuts. It's foolish to list a set of ideological positions when those positions can be summed up in a word or two. I'm a libertarian, LibertyOne is a libertarian. We share many core beliefs, yet we differ on a few. We both wear the label proudly and at least I recognize the differences between me and him.

Granted, a label in a vacuum has no purpose, but on this award-winning news corporation's web forum, we aren't in a vacuum. There are lots of leftists and conservatives here. I know a good number by their posts. I know what they say and I accept their words as honest. Were I to not label them and enumerate their tendencies in every post where I felt the need, that would not make me any more prone to compromise.

Place me in a position where I need to compromise and I will. Otherwise, I won't.

Wear your label and be proud of who you are. If you can't do that, you are a fraud.


jafs 1 year, 6 months ago

When folks talk about WWII, and cutting spending on the military afterwards, and how that didn't adversely affect the economy, they seem to forget that women temporarily entered the workforce while the men were at war, and then faded back into domesticity when the war ended.

That's why bringing a large number of soldiers home and cutting military spending didn't result in a lot of unemployment, and other problems.

What factors exist today that would mitigate the effects of a similar reduction in defense spending?

I'm all for cutting spending, but it's foolish and naive to think that we could put a bunch of soldiers/military personnel out of the military and not have increased unemployment and problems today.


overplayedhistory 1 year, 6 months ago

"The Republican and Democratic parties are controlled and funded by the extreme voices in their party"

I don't remember Denis Kucinich being in charge of the Democratic party. Always with false equivalence.


George Lippencott 1 year, 6 months ago

Bozo's math does not add up

Your analysis fails on two points. If the debt was in fact growing slower than the tax base that would be great. It, unfortunately, is growing much faster than the tax base so each year at a given tax regime we pay for less and less of what we demand. Each citizen now owes about $44K – more than the Greeks owe their own country.

Your second point that we owe it to ourselves is a red herring. We have to service that debt. Each year we must tax ourselves an ever increasing amount to pay those who hold the debt (mostly ourselves). Today that amounts to about $200 billion per year and is projected to reach over $500 billion by 2015. That amounts to about 25% of the entire tax income of the federal government. At the rate we are going we could see all our federal taxes being consumed by debt service by 2030.

Hey son, I forgot to tell you but all the activities of the federal government must cease as all your tax money must go to interest on the debt.

Now we could talk inflation to reduce the debt but even that will not work unless we stop growing it so rapidly.


jhawkinsf 1 year, 6 months ago

To those who ask us to look at the end of WW II, a time when we had a huge national deficit, let me say something. I'm as "no deficit" kind of a guy as you'll find. That said, I do realize that in times of extreme circumstances, a deficit may be necessary. A world war qualifies. The times we are in do not. Recession and expansion are normal patterns in our economy. This deficit is deeper and wider than most. But in my opinion, it doesn't rank up there with a world war.

As a senior citizen myself, I have no desire to have my legacy be a mountain of debt to future generations. We need to stop accumulating debt, now. And pay that thing off over the next few years.


tange 1 year, 6 months ago

Labeling, politeness, incivility, political correctness... who cares? Too many folks are too easily manipulated by (superficial) fluff. What matters is an honest and meaningful dialog. I don't care whether you're Miss Manners or the biggest SOB ever to grace SturgeonRage's skivvies; if all you have to offer is content of the quality of the latter, then you render yourself irrelevant, however frequently you gadfly.

Consider this: an otherwise well-spoken, politically correct, engaging, even endearing (to some) candidate for the Presidency was just captured characterizing HALF of Americans as being people "...who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it...."

Make no mistake, Romney's IS the veiled face of bigotry in America, as revealed through the labels he privately employed. There is no compromise with bigotry, however well-dressed and -spoken, publicly.


tbaker 1 year, 6 months ago

Labeling / name-calling is how the two major political parties help maintain the illusion that there really are stark, substantive differences between them – there are not. If you ignore what they say, but watch what they do you’ll find they have far more in common than they would like you to know. The people on the fringe of each group (the minority who get the most attention) really do have stark, substantive differences between them and do their best to convince the rest of the country that these differences actually define the mainstream party beliefs too. It is in the interest of the two big parties to maintain this illusion. If people are not at each other’s throats clamoring to discredit each other, they might actually spend some time paying attention to what is being done in their name. It’s gotten so bad, black and white facts must be ignored based on nothing other than the ideology of who pointed them out. Somehow this taints the fact and makes it irrelevant.


Liberty_One 1 year, 6 months ago

Of course labeling is helpful. Our minds have evolved to work this way. We create mental shortcuts so that we can more quickly grasp a situation and deal with it appropriately.


beatrice 1 year, 6 months ago

How does a side create compromise with another side that refuses compromise on all fronts? How does a side seek compromise when the other side stated very clearly that their primary goal was to drive the other side out of office? How does a party of action compromise with a party that embraces saying "no" simply for political purposes without concern for the welfare of the nation?


Cait McKnelly 1 year, 6 months ago

You want labels? I'll give you labels. Jon Stewart nailed the GOP right on the head.
"The biggest problem with the denizens of BS Mountain is they act like their &^%$ don't stink. If they have success, they built it. If they failed, the government ruined it for them. If they get a break, they deserve it. If YOU get a break, it's a handout and a entitlement." - Jon Stewart


SageonPage 1 year, 6 months ago

When you place your vote, cast it for the man who you think will do the best job of bringing opposing viewpoints together, not driving a wedge between them.

— Kevin Kaye is a Lawrence resident. OBAMA is the great Divider. It certainly won't be the current President. He has driven huge wedges in our society pitting wealthy against poor, black versus white and Israel versus his friends in the Muslim Brotherhood. Who recalls obama's words to Senator McCain during a meeting- 'The election is over' ie. shut up I'm not open to your ideas. OR perhaps you recall his words to Republicans- 'We don't mind the Republicans joining us but they can sit in the back of the bus'


Peter Macfarlane 1 year, 6 months ago

I was with you on your article until you started talking budget. Frankly, your tone started sounding a bit partisan, especially the part about most likely spending less and maybe raising taxes. What you should have said (to be balanced) was: Most likely a combination of spending less and raising taxes. That combination is more in keeping with compromise and with the recommendations of the bi-partisan Debt Reduction Task Force.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 6 months ago

"Today our country borrows 43 cents for every dollar it spends. This level of debt is unsustainable. What if your family did this?"

But the US Govt. is NOT a family. Analyzing the debt in such a way is not a useful analogy.

Nobody Understands Debt By PAUL KRUGMAN


"Deficit-worriers portray a future in which we’re impoverished by the need to pay back money we’ve been borrowing. They see America as being like a family that took out too large a mortgage, and will have a hard time making the monthly payments.

This is, however, a really bad analogy in at least two ways.

First, families have to pay back their debt. Governments don’t — all they need to do is ensure that debt grows more slowly than their tax base. The debt from World War II was never repaid; it just became increasingly irrelevant as the U.S. economy grew, and with it the income subject to taxation.

Second — and this is the point almost nobody seems to get — an over-borrowed family owes money to someone else; U.S. debt is, to a large extent, money we owe to ourselves.

This was clearly true of the debt incurred to win World War II. Taxpayers were on the hook for a debt that was significantly bigger, as a percentage of G.D.P., than debt today; but that debt was also owned by taxpayers, such as all the people who bought savings bonds. So the debt didn’t make postwar America poorer. In particular, the debt didn’t prevent the postwar generation from experiencing the biggest rise in incomes and living standards in our nation’s history.

But isn’t this time different? Not as much as you think.

It’s true that foreigners now hold large claims on the United States, including a fair amount of government debt. But every dollar’s worth of foreign claims on America is matched by 89 cents’ worth of U.S. claims on foreigners. And because foreigners tend to put their U.S. investments into safe, low-yield assets, America actually earns more from its assets abroad than it pays to foreign investors. If your image is of a nation that’s already deep in hock to the Chinese, you’ve been misinformed. Nor are we heading rapidly in that direction.

Now, the fact that federal debt isn’t at all like a mortgage on America’s future doesn’t mean that the debt is harmless. Taxes must be levied to pay the interest, and you don’t have to be a right-wing ideologue to concede that taxes impose some cost on the economy, if nothing else by causing a diversion of resources away from productive activities into tax avoidance and evasion. But these costs are a lot less dramatic than the analogy with an overindebted family might suggest."



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