This is the third article in a series. Here is the opening from the first; it will repeat in each column in this series:
“There is a dangerous, but tremendously effective, political approach employed in America. It could be called ‘thought deprivation.’ It’s conditioning people so they do not think with depth regarding the issues that face us as a nation. Sadly, allowing this thought deprivation approach to become routine and embedded in the political process has brought us to a point of real danger in the governing, and very survival, of this nation.”
In that initial article, my observations as to how thought deprivation is developed and sustained in a person, by others, were presented as including seven steps. The first two steps were addressed in the first column; steps three and four in the second. The final three will be explored here.
Step five is to convince a target group, or groups, that they are entitled to certain benefits. Accomplishing this step is pursued by use of several tactics. Primary among them is the civil rights argument.
Before examining this argument, consider the following from “What are human rights?” at www.equalityhumanrights.com: “Human rights are the basic rights and freedoms that belong to every person in the world, from birth until death. They apply regardless of where you are from, what you believe or how you choose to live your life.
“They can never be taken away, although they can sometimes be restricted — for example if a person breaks the law, or in the interests of national security.
“These basic rights are based on shared values like dignity, fairness, equality, respect and independence. These values are defined and protected by law.”
Lock in on the last line of the quote above that addresses the basis for human rights. Now move to the civil rights argument. The following segments are from an article by Rebecca Hamlin, at www.britannica. com, titled “Civil rights.”
It reads, “Civil rights, guarantees of equal social opportunities and equal protection under the law, regardless of race, religion, or other personal characteristics.
“Unlike other rights concepts, such as human rights or natural rights, in which people acquire rights inherently, perhaps from God or nature, civil rights must be given and guaranteed by the power of the state. Therefore, they vary greatly over time, culture, and form of government and tend to follow societal trends that condone or abhor particular types of discrimination. For example, the civil rights of homosexuals have only recently come to the forefront of political debate in some Western democracies.”
This tactic alone allows politicians and other agenda-promoting individuals and groups to argue that certain individuals or groups are entitled to benefits, accommodations or privileges not currently available to them. This action, almost always, garners political support for the offering party, or parties, from those for whom benefits are pursued.
In my estimation, a prime example of how this tactic is employed, and the profit to entitlement-promoting politicians, shows in North Carolina’s recent battle over allowing individuals to use the public bathroom consistent with their gender identity.
Without doubt, politicians who embraced the change enhanced their support among the LGBTQ community. This is only one example of civil rights shaped by time and a changing culture overriding human rights where, from www.equalityhumanrights.com, “These basic rights are based on shared values like dignity, fairness, equality, respect and independence.” The course pursued in the situation mentioned above certainly seemed unfair, from a human rights perspective, to those of us who opposed allowing gender identity bathroom use. However, this kind of action works for winning votes.
Once citizens believe they are entitled to certain benefits, the sixth step is promising to deliver the benefits to which people believe they are entitled.
The examples at this step seem endless. Here is a sampling of what is being proposed by various 2020 presidential candidates from an article by Quartz Staff titled “Meet all the Democratic candidates in the crowded 2020 race.” The list includes free college tuition, health care for all, jobs for everybody, saving the environment from climate change, middle- class tax cuts, programs that would give every newborn a bond that would increase in value over time, an increase in Social Security benefits, $1,000 per month to every citizen over age 18, reparations to black Americans and higher taxes on the wealthy.
Every idea listed above and, almost certainly, any others put forth, will appeal to the needs and wants of citizens. Except for calls to tax the wealthy more, there will not likely be a single proposal that requires sacrifice or taking of individual responsibility on the part of citizens. No, this strategy is to promise the world, win the election and start running again while using the same tactics.
What I have addressed to this point in the series of columns works because the math is solid. Following are segments from an article by Catey Hill titled “45 percent of Americans pay no federal income tax.” The article said, “An estimated 45.3 percent of American households — roughly 77.5 million — will pay no federal individual income tax, according to data for the 2015 tax year from the Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan Washington-based research group. (Note that this does not necessarily mean they won’t owe their states income tax.)
“On average, those in the bottom 40 percent of the income spectrum end up getting money from the government. Meanwhile, the richest 20 percent of Americans, by far, pay the most in income taxes, forking over nearly 87 percent of all the income tax collected by Uncle Sam.”
When the richest 20 percent of Americans pay 87 percent of all federal income taxes and 45.3 percent of households pay nothing, the math is easy … turn the 80 percent against the 20 percent. In the process, take from the 20 percent the funding that is needed to win the votes of the 80 percent.
Here is where the rubber meets the road. There comes a time when taxing the rich heavily is not sufficient to keep promises to the 80 percent. That is because the rich are no longer motivated to take the risks necessary to maintain high incomes, or they move to lower-tax countries. Further, if all the assets of the wealthy were confiscated, I hardly believe it would pay the cost of all that is being promised by so many of today’s politicians.
That brings us to the final step — step seven. That is, when the promised benefits do not materialize, blame others. This is particularly the case with political parties. When a promise is not kept, blame the other party. Since the voting public, for the most part, depends on sound-bites, headlines and emotions, promise-breaking politicians are hardly ever held accountable. The public keeps experiencing the abuse.
That abuse happens because developing and sustaining thought deprivation is an extremely effective strategy that has been mastered by far too many American politicians and others who influence the political process.