Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Empty Phrases part one

Every campaign and every election have phrases that are ultimately empty.  They are the type of phrases that you would put in your conclusion of a paper when you didn't have anything else.  You would say something like "if we spend more money on education then we would not have problems with racism today."  Or "as our founding fathers knew, democracy was a good thing."  These phrases are ultimately meaningless; yet we still have politicians saying them all the time.  So, here's an incomplete list of the empty phrases I've heard in the Republican race (primarily) so far.  I'll also explain why I think they are meaningless. 

"Creating jobs/job creation"
Why it's meaningless (I'm going to say a variation of the phrase so much, it'll make you sick):  It doesn't explain how we are to create these new jobs.  It doesn't explain what policies you are going to undertake to create these jobs.  It doesn't show any proof that your policies are the ones that will create these jobs.  In the age of globalilzation, it might be hard to create certain jobs because it will be cheaper for the companies to continue to produce in other countries.  Ultimately, the companies are responsible for their own bottom lines.  Individual states currently offer competing tax incentives and various other packages to companies to create jobs in each individual's state.  This comes as a challenge for each state to offer the best package to these companies.  What is the best package for each company is up to the companies themselves.  Certain technologies make it so there is no need for certain jobs anymore.  There are jobs out there, that used to exist, but no longer do.  As we become more reliant on technology, it will be harder for us in the United States to maintain our service economy unless we are all educated enough to work on each of the various technologies we have.  I could ramble for awhile on this one. 

"Secure the border"
Why it's meaningless: Again, it fails to address how to do so.  I'll address the problems more coherently.

A) It comes off as racist.  We are securing the border from illegal Mexican immigrants.  By marginalizing one set of immigrants we are running the risk of marginalizing a whole set of our minority.  We did this in the past.  For example, the Irish were poorly treated and were marginalized.  There are still people out there who do this.

B) We're ignoring our past.  There's almost a 100% chance that you, yourself, are descendants of illegal immigrants.  I hate to break it to you.

C) If we build a wall, who will build it?  Nearly 25% of the labor force in construction are Hispanics. 

D) What soliders are supposed to secure the border?  We are already at war in Afghanistan, still have some troops in Iraq, some stationed all over the world, and we might be at war with Iran soon.  With our military already stretched, do we really want to stretch them even further by securing something we've never bothered with before?

E) Why is it necessary to secure the border?  That's just as big of a question as the others.

I could keep going but let's move on.

"Making our country secure"
Why it's meaningless: A) What does that mean?
B) How do you plan on doing this?
C) This implies currently that our country is not secure.  Do you have proof of this, currently?

"Killing jobs"
Why it's meaningless: A) See job creation. There are jobs that are no longer necessary.
B) What jobs are being killed?  More than likely, these are jobs that are either low-paying or unnecessary
C) How are the jobs being killed/is there a way for the intent of the proposed action to be executed without jobs being killed?
D) This implies that jobs are more important than other things.  Is this actually the case? The burden of proof would fall on the person saying that.

"Balancing the budget"
Why it's meaningless: A) This implies that this is a worthwhile goal. 
B) How do we plan on doing this? (see next empty phrase)
C) Why should we balance the budget?  It's understandable that there is a certain limit to which America can fall into debt without being labeled as a "failed state."  But to imply that the rest of the world is going to watch America crumble underneath this debt is almost laughable.  In the globalization age, there is just no way that other countries will allow the biggest consumer to fail.

"Lowering taxes/broadening the tax base"
Why it's meaningless: A) It's not meaningless in and of itself.  The problem is that it is used in conjunction with the empty phrase listed above this one.  You cannot assume that you are able to cut enough of the budget that you would be able to universally cut taxes across the board and still have the money to balance the budget.  I'm sorry, but it's just not possible.
B) It implies that those who deserve tax breaks are going to get them and those who do not deserve the tax breaks will not get them.  Unfortunately a) who decides who is deserving of tax breaks and b) those undeserving of tax breaks still get them.
C) There are tax loopholes that people can get around in the current tax system in which taxes are even lower for them.
I get angry when I talk about that one so I have to push forward.

"Cutting entitlements/cutting off the safety net"
Why it's meaningless: A) It implies that people are taking advantage of the system.  Which, I know some people are taking advantage of it.  But is it enough?  Are there enough people who legitimately need the safety net that we need to have it in place?  Yes, I believe we do.
B) If the economy is, as bad, as each of these people claim does it not make sense for the safety net to be necessary?
C) This phrase is usually talked about with job creation.

The final empty phrase for today: "energy independence/cutting dependency on foreign energy"
Why it's meaningless: A) I should clarify. It's not meaningless in and of itself.  The way it's used, however, is meaningless. (I was going to make an inappropriate comment about the HPV vaccine and mental retardation). The phrase has come about, mainly, because of the Keystone Pipeline.  The claim by many is that the Keystone Pipeline will help us become less energy dependent on foreign energy.  Remember where the Keystone Pipeline is coming from.
B) The energy independence that people are clamoring for is really just dependence on oil that we, ourselves, are drilling.  This, technically, I suppose is energy independence.  It's not sustainable, but it lessens our need for foreign energy. Technically, they are right.  In practice, they are wrong.  How much oil can we really get from the the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge?  How much can we get from technically federal lands in deep sea territories?  Is it going to be enough to make a difference?  The answer is no.  How much natural gas can we get from our reserves?  We can get some, but ultimately, this is a futile exercise.  There is only so much energy we can extract from non-renewable energy resources before it's gone.
C) The amount of energy, time, resources, etc. that we plug into trying to figure out how to do things that save us 500,000 barrels of oil (estimate) from non-OPEC producers we could, instead, be focused on putting that money in developing wind, solar, and other renewable energy sources. 

Stay tuned for part two (in case you were wondering I'm breaking up all posts to separate parts for my own sanity).

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