How “Obamacare” Frames the Debate

Here’s an ugly example of why supporters of the Patient Protection Act should avoid the term Obamacare:

As you can see, the term directs attention away from the law’s moral purposes and toward Barack Obama the man. Continuing to call the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Obamacare encourages this sort of thinking and behavior.

“The Nebraska Democratic Party believes that affordable, accessible, quality health care is a basic human right.”

The Nebraska Democratic Party is asking the candidate to pull this ad. While the party’s statement deplores the violence against an image of the president, it does not mention the party’s platform position on the moral issue of access to health insurance: that “affordable, accessible, quality health care is a basic human right” (p. 39).

I wish it would. Why isn’t this truth being shouted from the housetops? Do you know?

This Post Is Un-American

Billionaires Charles and David Koch have spent millions to influence elections and government policy.
Billionaires Charles and David Koch have spent millions to influence elections and government policy.

Democrats are working to frame some of this year’s elections as about Charles and David Koch. As Peters and Hulse report in the New York Times, these billionaire brothers are spending a lot of money to influence elections across the nation.

Mr. Hulse’s interview with On the Media discusses using words like un-American to describe the Kochs and collectivists to label progressives.

The word un-American should be used sparingly, if at all–especially when describing a person. Unless used very carefully, it’s name-calling and probably attributing evil motives to someone who doesn’t mean harm.

I do think that some behavior might be considered un-American, but because people have different views of our country’s interests and values, that’s also tricky. It’s best to avoid the word.

Do you think it’s appropriate to label people as un-American? Is there such a thing as un-American behavior? Why or why not?

No, “Enhanced Interrogation” Is Worse, Not Better

Several times this month, I’ve heard news stories such as this one  use the phrase enhanced interrogation to describe painful treatment of terrorism suspects.

This expression has no place in objective journalism because it is biased in favor of inflicting pain. After all, enhanced means improved.

And the claim that inflicting pain gets better results is questionable at best. For example, Joe Navarro, former FBI special agent and author of a book about effective interrogation, says that what is called enhanced interrogation does not work.

Inflicting pain on purpose is torture, but if that word seems too harsh, journalists trying to objective could use the phrase “painful interrogation methods” instead. That’s accurate and removes the assumption that the painful methods must be better than standard methods.

How do you think Framologists should respond to enhanced interrogation?

Don’t Talk about Death Taxes Till You’ve Read This

As Jacobson, Raub, and Johnson have pointed out, supporters of these taxes have seen their moral purpose as “preventing the concentration of wealth in the hands of a relatively few powerful families.” It’s fair that very large estates should pay these taxes because they have benefited from the government’s work more than others. A few examples include government regulation of securities, police protection (having more property and wealth to protect than others), and low tax rates on capital gains income.

I don’t want America to be a country in which dynasties hand vast wealth down to their children while the rest of us tread water or fall into poverty.

The taxes should be called what they are: estate and inheritance taxes. If we want to make clear that only a few pay them, we could call them “taxes on very large estates and inheritances.”

What do you think?