UnionMaine

Trust me, I work for the Government

Follow the Money

What is Propaganda?

Propaganda avoids facts, Rush Limbaugh claims moral superiority while forgetting his own drug use, willingness to collect unemployment when he was in need, and I think it is now four failed marriages. Propaganda has at its core the intent to encourage hate and prejudice against a targeted group while providing an excuse and a distraction from rational thought.

The user of propaganda tries to get others to accept claims without thought, or to act without weighing hidden motives. The use of inference and anger as a propaganda tool can be heard on any talk radio show, the yelling and the hate for whatever group the host has picked as a target. Talk show hosts and right wing politicians hope to lead the public to accept claims with no logical grounds and with no balancing points of view. “Fair and balanced”. The “talking heads” avoid logical arguments from the audience, so creating an enemy is the most important tool and is the first step.

How to build the lie? First make broad and positive statements, “Republicans believe in smaller government” regardless of the truth. Statements are presented using tag lines and familiar language. By refusing to admit, or even suggest, that there is another side to the question they create the devil, saying “All Unions protect lazy workers”, “Democrats hate free enterprise”, “Union thugs”. These are examples of propaganda. Another example is the repeated claim that Union members are the cause of government waste while ignoring the fact that the public wants the snow plowed, the potholes fixed, and the ambulance to come when needed.

Slogans are a highly powerful form of attack; “drinking Union Cool Aid” suggests that Union members are killing themselves following insane leadership is a common theme.

First they say what everyone knows, times are tough. Then they show sympathy for the audience claiming that they know how hard it is for the public. Then they talk about cutting State Government and then cutting State Employees and their benefits. They never say put a fire a fire fighter, fire a State police officer or stop maintaining the roads. They always say “State Employees” as if it is a group from another world.

A second method of propaganda is appealing to the desires of the audience. Desire is an important factor in belief. The public is frustrated with how government and corporate interests have worked to destroy the middle class. The right needs to find someone to blame for their failed policies and needs a target.

Like advertisers they study public opinion to find out what things people are “for” or “against” in order to decide on labels to use to bring about desired reactions. Using words such as “justice,” “promoting efficient Government” “lower taxes” and “equal opportunity,” will work as positive hooks, and are used in every message. The use of negative words—for example, “Union Bosses” or “Lazy employees” and “government waste” is used to influence the public to justify hate for the intended target.

The desire for lower taxes, a better job, appeals to the target audience. The desire to be respected, capable of taking care of a family, and to be socially acceptable, sells ideas and at the same time the claim that all the problems can be fixed by fixing those who are stealing from the public, state employees is worked in. Anyone who has listened to the radio, or reads knows of dozens of ads now attacking and blaming state employees.

Tax cuts sound great, follow the money, Bush mainly cut taxes for the rich and put billions of your tax dollars into the vaults of the already rich oil companies. Cutting tax rates for billionaires to less than that paid by a janitor can be ignored if you just keep saying tax cuts are good!

The real trick is to “make the idea stick.” That is why key words and slogans, cartoons, are used. “I could have had a V8!” and a hand slap to the forehead, sticks in your mind.

Slogans pack meaning into short sentences. The purpose is to get them noticed. They will burrow into the minds of people. CEOs and political leaders know that slogans are a great viral marketing tool. Advertisers know that reasoned, logical appeals are not always effective. Political debates, have been shortened and emotionalized, “Read my lips, no new taxes!” because much of the audience will not listen to reasoned, point, counter point arguments. The Union message relying on concern for people and on logic and rationality is out of place in this bloody arena.

Political propaganda is full of examples of the use of striking slogans. For example, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall” used by Ronald Reagan. Reagan’s technique painted the U.S. as the lone defender of democracy, while the Soviet Union was ‘the evil empire”.

Slogans have inspired the imaginations of people in the past and continue to the present. We remember “No Taxation without Representation” and it is has become part of American culture and language.

Propaganda uses slogans, and it uses symbols. We have seen the Kool Aid pitcher with “Union Kool Aid” across the front. A symbol avoids logic and discussion and leaves no opportunity for debate. This symbol is used to disguise the true intent, the intent to turn Maine into a “right to work” state.

A symbol is the glue that holds together a group together.

A propagandist knows how to use symbols. Symbols are used to build both positive and negative attitudes.

Cartoons have been used to represent the taxpayer in tattered clothing, the “union boss” and others. The “union boss” is usually pictured as a fat and wearing a diamond pinky ring.

For the big lie to work blame must be placed on individuals or groups that are not responsible, relieving feelings of guilt from responsible parties and distracting attention from the need to fix the problem for which blame is being assigned. By blaming Unions, for failures of industry, the need to worry about products produced by slave or child labor for Wal-Mart can be forgotten.

The history of corporations claiming bankruptcy and canceling benefits for employees and retirees before paying millions in bonuses to the boards can be conveniently ignored.

The fact that many people work for employers that pay little, and respect their employees less can be forgotten by blaming Unions.

The use of “State Employee” as a term of hate is a device to encourage the persecution of scapegoats, while denying the humanity of the group. It is hard to hate when the Union worker taking care of your grandmother is known by her first name, hard to hate when you need the help of a Union police officer or nurse. The creation of a faceless group is done to avoid engaging in reasoned debate and foster hate.

Catchwords and slogans abound in right to work propaganda, contrived for the sake of impressing voters in certain groups. “No Fair Share” uses such important and high-sounding words as “personal merit,” and “right to choose”. “Right to Work,” is a false slogan that does NOT guarantee anyone the “right” to employment and does not protect any worker from being laid off or fired, but it make a great sound bite.

Propaganda can be effective. The support of G.W. Bush and his totally anti-labor appointees by many of our own members is something that I as a Union supporter find impossible to understand. To me it is incredible that a labor hating, former party boy, C student at best, and total failure in all prior business dealings, after having destroyed the Texas budget, should be have ever been turned into an all-powerful and “infallible” leader, “The Decider,” who claims the right to reinterpret our constitution.

How did even some members of labor Unions come to accept this legend surrounding a failed businessman? Perhaps it was because millions of Americans were hoping for “an end of confusion, and no longer felt that their actions in the conduct of their own affairs was effective. The two presidential election won by G. Bush both were under a cloud of suspicion and voters felt they could not make a difference. To many the idea of a leader, a symbol of moral authority, a man to turn things around, allowed the public to forget their role in affairs and to turn the nation over to a ruler who claimed a mandate and all the public had to do was to give him complete trust, blind faith, and the keys to the treasury.

When a group is trying to influence your opinions and actions, ask yourself if their purpose is selfish or unselfish? Will the results of right to work (for less) laws benefit the employees or will it serve to generate political power for the right?

What is likely to be the effect of destroying the current Union? Will the public and the legislature trim government and reward the remaining employees with benefit and wage increases? Is it more likely that projects will be handed out to the private sector to benefit only the owners at the tax payer’s expense?

As an example of facts not revealed, workers in Right to Work states earn on average $6,590 less than workers in free-bargaining states. That’s a 17% pay cut! Women earn 12% less and on average, Right to Work states have a 16% higher poverty rate with job fatality rates 54% higher. The average employee in a free bargaining state is 24.1% more likely to have health insurance.

If personal merit alone guarantees success, why would the best athletes in the world in U.S. baseball, hockey and football join Unions?

It all boils down to some very simple questions: What is the source of the propaganda? Are there any actual facts to support the claims? What really started the movement? Follow the money and ask who will make a buck? Propaganda presents one point of view as if it were the best or only way to look at a situation. Perhaps it is a weakness of Unions that they are willing to listen to many points of view.

Enter your Email

Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

January 6th, 2008 Posted by narsbars | Chellie Pingree, Ethan Strimling, FAIR SHARE, FairShare, MSEA, MSEA ELECTIONS, MSEA-SEIU, Maine Congressional Elections, Maine State Employees, SEIU 1989, UNIONMAINE, anti union talk show | 2 comments