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Relief?

Written By: - Date published: 3:23 pm, October 18th, 2007 - 31 comments
Categories: labour - Tags:

mike2.jpgLook Mike, I know you know about the polls and I know you’re probably thinking about what you can do to turn things around. Well, I’ve got one little idea. Stop using their language.

It’s pretty simple really – I mean it’s not gonna win the game or anything but it’d be a damn good start if you stopped talking about ‘Tax Relief” and “Tax Burden” (f’crisskes!) ‘cos y’know that’s kinda what the right want it to be called. Here’s Lakoff on the issue:

The phrase “Tax relief” began coming out of the White House starting on the very day of Bush’s inauguration. It got picked up by the newspapers as if it were a neutral term, which it is not. First, you have the frame for “relief.” For there to be relief, there has to be an affliction, an afflicted party, somebody who administers the relief, and an act in which you are relieved of the affliction. The reliever is the hero, and anybody who tries to stop them is the bad guy intent on keeping the affliction going. So, add “tax” to “relief” and you get a metaphor that taxation is an affliction, and anybody against relieving this affliction is a villain.

Now I’m not a great big fan of framing but this seems pretty elementary to me and when I see stuff like the press release you put out today (and you’re doing it nearly every friggin day):

“We also know that the report does not take into account the billions of dollars of tax relief that are being delivered through the Working for Families programme.

I just wanna scream. But bro, you are the Minister for Finance so perhaps you know better. If you are running some super-smart reverse-psychology game plan then I can only offer this advice – when referring to the surplus call it “my overtax loot”, when discussing Working For Families call it “the middle-class welfare scheme” oh and you might want to start referring to National as “the natural party of government” while you’re at it… “Tax Burden”? Sheesh…

31 comments on “Relief?”

  1. JamesK 1

    You’re right. It’s bad enough hearing the right repeat those hackneyed lines day after day, let alone someone who’s supposed to be on our side. It’s not like the ‘tax relief’ thing is even unknown – it’s like he’s literally read Lakoff and then gone for the very worst thing he could possibly say. Come on Mike, you can do better.

  2. Wodger 2

    What is so wrong with calling a spade a spade? Is taxation not a burden? I assume you would support Cullen taking ‘increased taxes on the rich’ instead, Bill?

    BTW are you gents getting a promotional grant from Berkeley to run this website, or are you just googling overtime today? Honestly, you might want to update yourselves. After all 2003 is *so* yesterday.

    Maybe you should pick up a copy of your hero’s books?


    Of perhaps those looking for a more balanced view should check out this review of the latest book

    “If the American Left believed in sainthood, they would have resolved to beatify George Lakoff by now. They adore the Berkeley linguist as an intellectual hero”

    “It would be wrong, for example, to say that Lakoff lacks the freedom to write an insightful book about politics. What he lacks is the ability.”

    http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=YmM4OWNjZDg1MjVlMDk0MGJjYzVkZjdlMzYyYjgyY2Q=

    PS I’m waiting for the next blog post – it will probably be on this illuminating study from (drum roll) UC Berkeley!

    http://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2006/03/23_block.shtml

  3. LFC 3

    I hear Mike’s got a new press sec – perhaps he’ll pick up his game.

  4. JamesK 4

    Ah, Wodger, I think Bill explicitly said he wasn’t a fan of Lakoff, but that it was a good point. Pays to read the posts properly before commenting.

  5. IrishBill 5

    Wodger: “I’m not a big fan of framing” Can you read? I think what Lakoff says is broadly right but that his thought is not new. All Lakoff does is take pragmatic political thought and overlay it with budget brand continental theory. Why I quoted him is that he uses the exact phrase “tax burden” as a (very famous) example of what not to do. I don’t consider tax a burden. I kinda like having public services. And your sarcasm is the most dated thing on this site (like, so ’90s man.)

  6. if this is the fault of a new press sec somebody take them aside for a wee chat.
    tax is an investment, a means of redistributing wealth, not a burden, and not something that requires ‘relief’.
    ffs

  7. r0b 7

    I’ll repeat my request from an earlier thread. It’s my impression that every survey that asks the NZ public to choose between tax cuts and improved social services, we choose improved social services every time. But as I said, that’s only my impression. If anyone can confirm, or of course disprove this claim, please post details?

    By the way Wodger, thanks for the useful link. Glad to see you’re getting into the spirit of things.

  8. Wodger 8

    Bill/Sprout/James

    You may not be a big fan, but you post a link to a fawning interview conducted at the “Free Speech Movement Cafe” (!)

    I take it from your responses that an increase in the top rate from 39 to 45 so that *even more* investment and redistributing could be conducted would be something you would support?

    Also, you do realise that ‘tax relief’ is official Labour policy from at least 2005, right?

    http://www.labour.org.nz/policy/families/2005policy/taxrelief/index.html

    I think you need to work on more than a few more press secretaries….

    And apologies for the multiple posting.

  9. JamesK 9

    Wodger – yes, Labour is utterly hopeless at spin. National kicks them all over the place with their lines. They need to lift their game. But wasn’t that the point of Bill’s post?

  10. IrishBill 10

    That link is the result of a quick google search. As Lakoff has used the example many times I could’ve offered another one I’m sure. I hadn’t realised the term was in use for so long but it seems to be popping up a lot lately. And yes, I’d like to see the top rate increased but not at the current threshold. I’ve always been a bit of a fan of the Alliance’s old eight step tax system.

  11. i support that IB

  12. all_your_base 12

    Hey Wodger, cheers for that link.

    This month we’re giving all contributors some surplus Berkeley coffee mugs we have left over. Flick us your address and I’ll get one in the mail.

    Easily victimized, easily offended, indecisive, fearful, rigid, inhibited and relatively over-controlled and vulnerable? Gosh, that sounds horrible. Go easy on the caffeine.

  13. burt 13

    Well done, lets change some more of his language while we are at it.

    Surplus. All bad, it sounds like he has taken too much tax. Lets try Reserves as in The thieving Govt hasn’t given any tax relief in 8 years so there is a massive reserve for funding election bribes so Labour can con people with their own money.

    Taxation. It’s a negative term through and through, lets try – The price you pay for the joy of working. The price you pay for working is always increasing under Labour so that Labour can build massive reserves to fund election bribes so it can can people with their own money.

    Hidden taxation. A subtle version of taxation… Lets try The price you pay for living. As in – Labour are constantly increasing the price you pay for living so it can build a massive reserve so that it can con people with their own money.

    You guys are going to make NZ’s first retrospectively validated Prime Minister very proud of you.

  14. John 14

    A Treasury trained poodle perhaps? Treasury writes the press release you know. Why Labour continues to turn the high ground on taxes over to National, I will never understand. You’d think that they sailed through in 2005, but sadly they didn’t. Hope they learn or Treasury will be very very happy with the new masters! Nothing would make those shallow so and so’s happier. Hope Treasury is disappointed in 2008, but then again if Labour continues to follow the Treasury line they get what they deserve.

  15. Robinsod 15

    Burt – you sound very angry. Have you been drinking again?

  16. burt 16

    Robinsod

    No I jsut watched the video of you beating your wife again !

  17. Robinsod 17

    “jsut”? (hic) And now your watching bumfight vids? Jeez Burt you’re really going down in my opinion…

  18. burt 18

    Robinsod

    It’s refreshing to see that Labour supporters can differentiate between the message and the messenger when they want to. You seem to have broken the pattern of denigration you use for National.

    If John Key said tax relief it’s Tax relief bad, John Key – Bad. If Dr. Cullen says tax relief it’s – Tax relief bad, Dr. Cullen – Good.

    You guys are not really as stupid as you normally make yourselves look.

  19. Nih 19

    I was just thinking that it was refreshing that you weren’t calling everyone within earshot names during your supposed insights. Everything has to end sometime I guess.

  20. burt 20

    This thread brings up a valid point. Cullen’s language on tax reduction is facing a heavy challenge. He has denied the country any form of tax cuts (relief, chewing gum, threshold increases, threshold adjustments, fairness etc.) for so long that he needs to change his language regularly to stop him sounding like a broken record.

    The problem is this. More and more people slip into the top bracket. The top bracket was elected into place as a ‘top 5%’, a policies of envy tax. The voting public were happy to see rich bastards paying extra tax to fix health and education, why shouldn’t they, the rich always have too much money. This is where Labour’s support in the polls is sliding. Many ‘party loyalists’ (of either major party) don’t give a second thought to yesterday political news, but when they are now paying the rich tax….

    So who’s calling for tax cuts?

    The people who voted for an envy tax and now are being whipped by it or it’s their children leaving Uni into a first job, student loan & rich bastard tax to pay.

    Are people fresh out of Uni with a student loan rich? Are these the people the ‘rich tax’ was aimed at?

    The lot the policy clobbered clobbered from 1999 have got quite well use to it. The biggest “targets” simply put their salaries up or managed them better to provide the same net pay and moved on.

    Many had no choice and became rich somewhere between 1999 and now but still don’t seem to have a hell of a lot. These people are pretty pissed as well.

    The threshold should lift to $120K. It should be indexed to the same percentage of the tax base as the policy (tax law) states. Adjusted every year.

    Now, if that rate is fairly and openly indexed all your daily hassle about tax cuts goes away. It’s not rocket science. You can shut down debate about taking more and more tax when you can honestly say you are taking the same proportion as when people voted for the tax policy.

    Why $120K. The WFF threshold. The current situation just shows some kinda double speak on rich and poor, it’s not doing the Govt any favours. Defenders of this situation always make a hash of it, which is inclined to happen when defending something that’s defies logic and reason.

  21. burt 21

    Just to clarify, I think all income tax thresholds should be indexed and reviewed in accordance with a method clearly stated in the policy and the legislation, not just the top threshold.

    Tax revenue is best increased through economic growth, bracket creep (stealth) always upsets voters.

  22. r0b 22

    “The problem is this. More and more people slip into the top bracket.”

    I agree that tax bracket creep needs to be looked at.

    “The top bracket was elected into place as a ‘top 5%’, a policies of envy tax”

    But while we’re speaking of language – ‘politics of envy’ is a phrase that has always annoyed me. Should we call the opposing views – ‘politics of greed’?

    “This is where Labour’s support in the polls is sliding.”

    I disagree. Yes the polls are down for Labour, but I don’t know that tax is the reason. Last election was the referendum on tax. Labour won. Despite National still beating that drum (because they seem to have nothing much else to say) I don’t think that they have any more traction with it than they did last election.

  23. ak 23

    Good on you burt – you’ve found some more words to put in bold and repeat four trillion times. Top man.
    Here’s an idea burt: why don’t you paste all those words (in bold of course – even colour if you like) on one of those bhuddist prayer-wheel thingies and just spin it around and around while you watch “Days of our lives”? That way you’ll have the same effect and you’ll be able to follow the conversation much better.
    You see burt, no matter how much you and your wee cobbers go on and on and on about “tax cuts”, the average Joe Bloggs knows that they’re just an offer to buy his vote. He also knows that if there’s money there to buy his vote, then it’s because Labour’s been careful with our money (not National burt, they’re the ones that put everyone out of work and sold everything and then we had to buy it back remember?).
    See out in the real world burt, people run their own households and know that if they mortgage the house to get another 20 or 30 dollars a week to spend on lollies, it’s not a good idea in the long run. Otherwise they’d do it burt.
    You follow burt?
    And believe it or not burt, most people aren’t so full of hate and rage that they stew in front of a computer all day trying to get attention. They actually like life (true – ask someone burt). They don’t actually think those government people are evil monsters either – heck, some of them even think they’re not too bad, seeing as how there’s heaps more jobs now and more money in their pockets. That’s why they voted them in three times in a row. And if another bribe is all the tories can offer, they’ll probably do it again burt.
    So go on burt: watch the telly, take the pills that Dr Robinsod gave you and do try to relax. It’ll all be over again this time next year.

  24. Wodger 24

    “And believe it or not burt, most people aren’t so full of hate and rage that they stew in front of a computer all day trying to get attention.”

    Wow, you better talk to Sonic, Tane, and Sam then!

  25. Robinsod 25

    Hey Wodg – you forgot me. Oh and you.

  26. Murray M 26

    Deport Cullen to England

  27. Robinsod 27

    Isn’t he from there originally?

  28. Murray M 28

    Yep

  29. Robinsod 29

    I’m sure we can get a refund then?

  30. Murray M 30

    They probably wouldn’t have him back

  31. Robinsod 31

    never mind – Maybe we can send Key back to wall-street?

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