Recently I’ve noticed that these partisan times have increasingly played on our sense of knowledge. Maybe at fault is the information age, which presents us with massive amounts of data up front. Of course the quality of that data and the then interpretations that lead to opinions via talking heads has somewhat muddled that entire presentation. And as we wade through the mounds of BS and “Fact Checking” (as if such a thing could ever be completely impartial)….we’re left in the end with snippets of information. In truth the more information you’re presented with the less you’ll focus on the individual pieces. Hey what do you know, politicians know this for fact and blast people with buzzwords they repeat over and over until they become truth, regardless of actual truth.
So now you may hear politicians rambling on and on talking about how “Republicans just don’t have the facts on their side!!!” and “Republican arguments are just not based on facts.” Now had a Democrat stood up and simply called their opposition a liar, it would be far less influential. Instead continually repeating something such as not factual leads our brains to associate the two. Liar or other more severe allegations are usually dismissed on observation.
Now of course there’s a fiscal cliff!! Yes, there’s a modest tax hike looming, but it’s not a cliff, more of a small slope actually. Indeed if tax rate changes aren’t put in place by the new year we’ll be stuck with higher rates. But of course it’s fun to note that those rates aren’t very severe changes (a few percent). So where does that leave us. Yes your first new year paycheck might be less but not substantially. So this cliff….isn’t some impending collapse. Over time those few dollars would add up and of course that might anger some people. But in reality it’s a slow slope. So why are we told it’s a cliff? Because it plays on our sense of emotion. If a deal is reached January 15th is it going to cause immediate and long lasting harm? No, not really. Because it’s nothing like a cliff, it’s a slow slope. But that doesn’t sell news stories. If we play on our emotions with buzzwords and build arguments up to the point where we have to pay attention (or else we’ll fall off a cliff!!!) then we’ve been summoned by the buzzword gods.
Even within the arguments from both sides you can see the buzzword mayhem lining up. “That proposal simply wasn’t a serious offer”. Oh yea…why’s that? Or the argument that “If Republicans want to take us off the cliff with their blocking of a deal, then the American people won’t be happy!!”. And there’s that, we’ve been drawn in and our arguments have been made for us. We no longer have to analyze the deals for ourselves…we can just argue with buzzwords. In fact check facebook to see how often those buzzwords are repeated by your peers. Heck, today on CNN I saw an analysis for a middle income ($130,000/year) family of four with a mortgage and it’s impact on their taxes at the end of the year. Well…that really doesn’t apply to me in any sense (I’m not even close to that income bracket and none of the same tax breaks apply to me). But the only information we’re left with is the conclusion that it’s either good or bad.
So in the coming weeks I implore you to go out and spot….then avoid…the buzzwords swirling around the debate. Try to find the real proposals and what money will/won’t be spent on. Otherwise you’re being set up by those wishing to control your views on topics.