Originally Posted here.
Talking Turkey with Your Loved Ones:
Making Sense of the 99% Movement over the Holidays
What’s your favorite part of the holidays? Big meals? Mashed potatoes and gravy? Cranberry sauce? Sleeping off your meal over the big football game? How about those never-ending discussions with your family about everything from Dancing with the Stars to Congress?
Well, this holiday season, Working America invites you to embrace that quality family time as an opportunity to help Uncle Dave and Aunt Maggie make sense of what it means to be a part of the 99 percent. We’re calling it “Turkey Talk.”
How can you take on the “Turkey Talk” Holiday Family Challenge to talk with friends and family in a way that draws out the real issues? Here are some basic strategies and advice, along with some substantive facts and answers that will clear up myths, confusion or spin coming from the 1 percent.
FOUR “TURKEY TALK” TIPS
- Keep the tone conversational and natural and ask evocative questions. Does your uncle want to abolish the Department of Education? End government regulations of anything – including inspections of the meat you’re eating? You’re unlikely to change his mind. But you can keep the tone conversational and natural with your other relatives. Ranting about issues usually doesn’t work and often ends up polarizing people. Ask evocative questions that everyone, even the uncle, can talk about.
- Example: “CEOs are making record profits right now. So how do more tax breaks for them create jobs?”
- Example: “The richest 5 percent of households obtained roughly 82 percent of all the nation’s gains in wealth between 1983 and 2009. The bottom 60 percent of households actually had less wealth in 2009 than in 1983, meaning they did not participate at all in the growth of wealth over this period.
- Example: “Wall Street control of government is a big problem. When there’s a revolving door between lobbyists on K Street and Capitol Hill, you have total corporate control of government.”
- Example: “We need to invest in jobs, not corporations. See our 9 Demands for the 99 Percent a list of concrete steps the 99 percent want to take to keep the movement going. Or add your own demand.
- Repetition is powerful! In your head it may sound like a broken record, but highlighting a key point repeatedly is an effective way to help change minds.
- Sometimes a loss is a win. Fighting the good fight for jobs and democracy is a marathon, not a sprint. So if you lose your argument with Aunt Maggie, your points might resonate with someone else listening, like Uncle Fred, who usually only joins the discussions about the Packers.
FACTS ABOUT THE 99 PERCENT AND THEIR HAPPIER COUNTERPARTS, THE 1 PERCENT
- The richest 5 percent of households obtained roughly 82 percent of all the nation’s gains in wealth between 1983 and 2009. The bottom 60 percent of households actually had less wealth in 2009 than in 1983, meaning they did not participate at all in the growth of wealth over this period.
- The average wealth of the 1% is 225 times bigger (PDF) than the wealth of the typical household – perhaps the highest it’s ever been.
- In just the last generation, the richest 1% almost quadrupled their incomes.
- Three decades ago, CEOs made about 40 times as much as an average worker – now CEOs make almost 200 times as much as regular employees.
- Last year, half of Americans earned less than $26,000, while CEOs at top 500 companies raked in an average of $11 million.
- Over the past decade, earnings for middle-class Americans actually fell. In fact, working Americans’ wages are now a lower percentage of our economy than they’ve ever been.
- The divide between the richest and the poorest is worse in America than it is in nearly all of Europe and Asia and much of Africa. It’s about as bad as in Rwanda and Serbia – and it’s bad for our economy.
- The 1 percent is not an accident – it is the result of policies our government chose to pursue.
- For the last three years, there have been at least 4 unemployed workers for every single job opening. Right now there are 4.6 jobless workers for every job opening.
- If the government doesn’t extend benefits to jobless workers in December, it will devastate millions. The unemployment rate, currently over 9 percent, includes more than six million people who have been out of work for six months or longer. Unemployed workers spend their benefit money on things like groceries, gas, rent – and other necessities that increase economic activity that saves and creates jobs (like grocery clerks, gas station attendants and real estate administrators).
(Sources: Wall Street Journal, Media Matters, Economic Policy Institute, National Employment Law Project)
COMMONLY TROTTED OUT FALSEHOODS/MYTHS/SPIN AND YOUR FACT-BASED ANSWERS
“We have serious economic problems, and that means everybody has to tighten their belts.”
- Laying off nurses, teachers and firefighters doesn’t make our communities stronger – it just puts more Americans out of work and puts our safety at risk.
- It is economic suicide to lay off state workers and undermine the services we rely on just to fund huge tax cuts for the wealthy.
- Instead of taking away the rights of hardworking Americans to negotiate their pay and benefits – which does nothing to address deficits or create jobs – let’s start with getting rid of tax breaks to millionaires and corporations that send our jobs overseas.
- Corporate profits are at an all-time high, but corporations are paying lower taxes than ever – and some aren’t paying any at all. Politicians who refuse to ask them to pay their fair share just don’t get it.
“The Occupiers are all elite anarchist vegan violent hippie communist jobless tattooed America-hating thugs.”
- Um, no.
- The Occupiers are part of the 99 percent, and come from all walks of life. They are teachers, nurses, jobless workers, working moms, disenfranchised people, young people, older people, working professionals, activists. They are construction workers, firefighters, artists, business owners.
- They have a very clear message and that is that for too long, the 1 percent has had continual, astronomical earnings and benefits while the 99 percent suffer or are turned on one another.
- This kind of public protest is part of a proud American tradition, one that is protected by the Constitution.
“Corporations should not be taxed because they create jobs.”
- Tax giveaways for the rich don’t get the economy moving or create jobs because millionaires and billionaires don’t need or spend the money – they just hand it over to their hedge fund managers, send jobs overseas and continue to enjoy overseas tax shelters and other corporate loopholes.
- Working people like you and me spend that money to pay bills, buy milk and bread, and see The Muppet Movie at the multiplex. Are you saying you oppose the Muppets?
- CEOs are currently making an average of more than 200 times as much as the average worker. And yet they do not create jobs here at home because they are consistently rewarded for it with?more tax breaks.
“Too much government is the problem.”
- Wall Street control of government is the problem. When there’s a revolving door between lobbyists on K Street and Capitol Hill, and corporate elites determine political and legislative goals, then you have total corporate control of government.
- Lack of government regulations has led to unfettered Wall Street greed that continues to this day – look at Enron, the Wall Street Meltdown and the Gulf Oil spill. Nobody can say with a straight face that we need less oversight and less accountability.
- Here’s a video of Jack Abramoff, a famous former lobbyist convicted of illegal activity, explaining how the revolving door of lobbyists and Capitol Hill works on 60 Minutes. Watch it with your family! (Before or after The Muppet Movie.)
“We need to balance our budget first. We need to fix the deficit before we can invest in jobs.”
- Major economists agree that the WORST way to handle the deficit is to put more Americans OUT of work. We need to stop tax giveaways for millionaires who don’t create jobs and corporations that send our jobs overseas and use the money to put Americans back on the job.
“We need a free market. Government regulations destroy jobs.”
- Do you want someone to make sure your food and water are safe to eat and drink? An unregulated free market creates a system that is rigged against the 99 percent. It is what paved the way for predatory, unregulated lenders and bankers to hijack our economy, and its influence is what led to the appalling bank bailouts given to the “too big to fail” 1 percent, leaving the 99 percent out in the cold – literally.
- Again: an unregulated free market, crony capitalism and unfettered Wall Street greed is what caused the financial crisis.
“The reason people are struggling is their own fault. I could find a job if I wanted to right now.”
- Right now there are five jobless people for every one job opening. Millions have been laid off through no fault of their own. Unable to pay for basic things like groceries, rent and bills, people are now being punished for being jobless by employers who discriminate against them and rhetoric that blames them for an economy wrecked by Wall Street greed.
“Unemployment insurance keeps people unemployed and causes unemployment to increase.”
- Unemployment insurance is one of the most effective ways to help get our economy going again – economists estimate that for every dollar spent on unemployment insurance, the economy grows by one and half times as much.
- People who are out of work cut back on spending – meaning less money flowing into our economy. Unemployment benefits mean people who are out of work are putting money back into the economy.
“Tax cuts increase revenue.”
- That…doesn’t even make sense.
- Tax breaks mean less revenue, not more, and they don’t create jobs or grow the economy – the Bush tax cuts led to record budget deficits that we’re still dealing with.
- Let’s put money into the hands of the real job creators in this country – working- and middle-class Americans – and stop giving special tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires who don’t need it and don’t spend it.
“The United States has the highest corporate tax rate in the world.”
- The United States has the second-lowest corporate tax rate in the developed world, and many of America’s largest corporations don’t pay any taxes at all.
- The middle class has sacrificed enough. It’s time for big corporations to start paying their fair share.
“This is class warfare.”
- I think it is safe to say that it wasn’t our teachers, firefighters and nurses that tanked the economy; it wasn’t the middle class or working class who gambled away people’s life savings.
- No middle-class family should have to pay higher taxes than any millionaire.
- America was founded as a country where we reward hard work more than how much money anyone’s family has. But right now, a paycheck earned from working in a job is taxed higher than the money that millionaires and billionaires make off money they already have.
- As Warren Buffett tells it, the only “class warfare” in America is being waged by his class – and they’re winning.
“We don’t need tax increases to get our fiscal house in order.”
- Experts, including conservative economists, agree that spending cuts alone are not enough. We need serious solutions, not irresponsible tax pledges.
- They tried tax handouts to the richest few that never trickle down, and they tried giant tax breaks for big corporations that lay off Americans and ship our jobs overseas. We’ve all had enough of their schemes that don’t work.
- We can’t afford millionaire tax giveaways when jobs are what we need.
- Plus, we’re not talking about raising YOUR taxes. Unless you’re a multimillionaire, in which case, these mashed potatoes should be way better.
- When Presidents Reagan, Bush Sr., and Clinton told millionaires and big corporations to pay their fair share, it was followed by millions of new jobs and strong economic growth.
“Out-of-control entitlement spending is responsible for the deficit.”
- You’re going to say that with grandma sitting right there?
- They’d rather gut Social Security and Medicare than make millionaires and big corporations pay a few more cents on the dollar in taxes.
- Social Security doesn’t add a penny to the deficit, and Medicare is the most cost-effective way for our seniors to get health care. But Republican politicians never liked Social Security or Medicare and still want to take them away.
- When Republican politicians take away the benefits our seniors have earned, they take money out of the pockets of middle-class Americans. That takes away customers from our businesses – and that means less hiring and fewer jobs.
- If they were serious about deficits, they wouldn’t have fought so hard for the Bush tax cuts and two unfunded wars that led to the record deficits we’re dealing with today.
“Unions are bad for business or only care about their members.”
- Today, unions across the country are on the frontlines advocating for basic workplace reforms such as increasing the minimum wage and pushing lawmakers to require paid sick leave. For all workers.
- It’s easy to forget that we have unions to thank for a lot of things we take for granted today in today’s workplaces: the minimum wage, the eight-hour work day, child labor laws, health and safety standards, and even the weekend.
- Studies show that a large union presence in an industry or a region raises wages even for nonunion workers. That means more consumer spending and a stronger economy for us all.
- A recent Harvard University study revealed that the rising income inequality of the last three decades directly correlates to the decline in union membership.