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Free Minds & Free Markets

The Left Is Rebranding Environmental Regulations As Environmental Protections

Cloaking government control in the language of benevolence.

PropagandaSahuaDreamstimeSahua/Dreamstime"Trump signs order at the EPA to dismantle environmental protections," declares a March 28 headline in The Washington Post. An April 27 article in the Post described an "effort to remove environmental protections." Two days later, another Post article stated that Trump's term in office has "already seen multiple rollbacks of environmental protections."

The Post isn't the only publication pushing such language. Here's The New York Times: "President Trump's unfortunate and misguided rollback of environmental protections has led to a depressing and widespread belief that the United States can no longer meet its commitment under the Paris climate change agreement." Here's The Huffington Post: "Environmental Protections Save Lives, Create Jobs And Strengthen The Economy." Here's The New Yorker: "It's clear that we're about to witness the steady demolition, or attempted demolition, of the environmental protections that have been put in place over the past five decades."

In each of those instances, the words "environmental protections" could easily have been replaced by "environmental regulations." I'm speaking anecdotally here, but in recent months both mainstream and activist media have seemed to use "environmental protections" more often and "environmental regulations" less.

Aristotle defined rhetoric as "the faculty of observing in any given case the available means of persuasion." And one of the chief paths of persuasion, he argued, comes "when the speech stirs their emotions." So which word has more emotional appeal, regulation or protection? Regulation denotes "a law, rule, or other order prescribed by authority, especially to regulate conduct." Protection is defined as "the act of protecting or the state of being protected; preservation from injury or harm." Regulation is coercive, perhaps punitive; protection is warm and fuzzy.

As I puzzled over this apparent shift in terminology, my mind naturally turned to the retired Berkeley linguist and cognitive scientist George Lakoff. Lakoff has spent years thinking about how political progressives could become more persuasive with the public. To achieve that, he wants progressives to engage in what he calls "honest reframing." "Reframing is telling the truth as we see it—telling it forcefully, straightforwardly, articulately, with moral conviction and without hesitation," he writes.

Lakoff believes that conservatives have been masterful at rhetoric, ah, framing. He cites the phrase "tax relief," which implies that taxes are an affliction and the politicians who favor it are heroes. People on the left, he argues, need to reframe progressive taxation as requiring "those who benefit most should pay their fair share."

So I was not surprised to discover that in January Lakoff wrote a short essay titled "The Public's Viewpoint: Regulations Are Protections." He begins by citing Trump's assertion that he intends to "cut regulations by 75 percent, maybe more." Then Lakoff asks, "What is a 'regulation'?" He goes on to assert that from the viewpoint of corporations, "'regulations' are limitations on their freedom to do whatever they want no matter who it harms." (Never mind that killing customers is usually not a good business strategy.) On the other hand, Lakoff claims that the public views a regulation as being "a protection against harm done by unscrupulous corporations seeking to maximize profit at the cost of harm to the public."

Lakoff's solution? "Imagine the NY Times, or even the USA Today headline: Trump to Eliminate 75% of Public Protections," writes Lakoff. "Imagine reporters finding out and reporting all over America exactly what protections would be removed." One of his three key takeaways is: "Shift the frame: always say 'protections' instead of 'regulations.' "Protections" is a more simple and accurate description."

From simply inspecting recent coverage, I don't have to imagine that. I can just open the paper and read it.

Interestingly, Lakoff also urges his readers to always take the Public's Viewpoint by asking themselves, "What would increase the public's wellbeing?" I think that's good advice. As it happens, regulations—sorry, protectionsare making Americans $4 trillion poorer than they would otherwise be. So keep an eye out for reframing, everyone! Otherwise, rhetoricians might get away with reframing those costly, job-killing environmental regulations as healthy, community-building environmental protections.

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  • Lester224||

    The practical problem with eliminating environmental regulations and instead depending on property laws and lawsuits is that lawsuits follow deaths and damage rather than preventing them.

    I'd rather have sound, peer-reviewed science promoting regulation that prevents the chemical plant in the state up stream from spilling toxins into the river than depend on winning a lawsuit after enough people get cancer.

    I may be prejudiced by spending time at factories in China and having to breathe the air around there.

  • Jerryskids||

    I'd rather have sound, peer-reviewed science promoting regulation

    Why not just wish for a magic wand? That's the whole fucking problem - it's political agendas governing regulation, not science of any sort, and the people in charge currently view human beings as a cancer upon the Earth and are working to exterminate the disease. There's no cost/benefit analysis involved in coming up with these regulations because a marginally cleaner environment is just the icing on the cake of crippling the economy, destroying jobs and industries, revoking the industrial revolution and killing off about 6 billion humans - it's all benefit, zero cost!

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    The sound science of LNT? Or the sound science that requires states and municipalities to reduce ground ozone levels to below background? Ah, it must be the sound science that predicted the UK would never see snow again; the arctic would be ice free 4 years ago; and we would have 50 million climate refugees today. No, it must be the sound science that says vaping is equivalent to smoking and BPA is at toxic levels in our drinking plastic.

    We've gine well past the point of diminishing returns on regulation. We're clearly into negative returns now.

  • ||

    I may be prejudiced by spending time at factories in China and having to breathe the air around there.

    So what you're saying is China's over-reliance on strong property rights and vigorous property lawsuits and China's overly-weak government results in too much pollution?

  • BYODB||

    I wondered at that one as well.

    Do people think that the government, once it owns the means of production, has any interest what-so-ever in providing clean anything? It would akin to a business voting for higher taxes on their own industry; it just doesn't happen.

    I also agree Skippy in that we're far past diminishing returns. There are plenty on the left that would say even a slight marginal return is worth it since that return is in human life, but ask yourself how many trillions of dollars one life is worth when it imposes costs on other people's actual well being through reduced income and opportunity.

  • ||

    Government is the ultimate narcissist - always bragging about what it's "gonna" do and expecting to be rewarded as if it's actually done all that it has said it's going to do, while actually doing as little as possible in the most self-serving way possible all the while demanding praise for its effort and intentions and being offended at any suggestion that their worth be tied to actual results.

  • x'); DROP USER Tony;||

    "The ultimate narcissist - always bragging about what he's 'gonna' do and expecting to be rewarded as if he's actually done all that he has said he's going to do, while actually doing as little as possible in the most self-serving way possible all the while demanding praise for his effort and intentions and being offended at any suggestion that his worth be tied to actual results" was my nickname in college.

  • Utilitarian||

    How about Freedom Industries? That company tried to save a few bucks and ended up dumping thousand gallons of MCHM into the Elk River, polluting the water supply. It also waited several days to report the problem. The company went bankrupt, the owner is long gone, and the residents are left with crap. If one of the residents were to develop cancer 20 or 30 years from now, would it be the result of the long term effects of exposure to MCHM? We can't prove that to be true or false. What recourse do these people really have? You have to prove harm to win a judgment in court and you can't prove hypothetical future harm, especially for exposure to a chemical that hasn't had any long term studies (like MCHM). So these people are left with the uncertainty of how this MCHM exposure will impact their health for the rest of their lives.

    The result of the Freedom Industries incident is that the company was able to impose an externality with an unknowable cost on a people covering a significant portion of West Virginia.

  • ||

    You're talking about the lawsuit that just settled last year?

    The one where the people impacted were able to take their claim to the supplier of the MCHM (Eastman Chemicals) because of the robust liability laws that established a positive duty on the part of the supplier to ensure that the buyer was qualified to store the chemicals?

    On a side note, I have little doubt that a state building inspector signed off on those storage tanks and asserted that they were built according to regulation.

    And is there some reason to believe that MCHM causes cancer other than your vague suspicion based on "scary-sounding chemical?" Keep in mind that the fact that "you can't prove hypothetical future harm" is a strong argument for not pre-emptively punishing anyone.

  • plusafdotcom||

    Square... you make it sound as if "The one where the people impacted were able to take their claim to the supplier of the MCHM (Eastman Chemicals) because of the robust liability laws that established a positive duty on the part of the supplier to ensure that the buyer was qualified to store the chemicals?"

    ... is a good thing.

    So anyone who sells anything to anyone else MUST be held responsible for ANY outcomes when the Buyer (OR, pray tell, someone THEY sell the thing to?) doesn't take precautions? No matter how clear the seller describes the danger?!

    Go back in Reason Magazine's history files to the story of the Hooker Chemical Company and "Love Canal."

    Hooker made it painfully clear that no human habitation should ever be built on the land in question, then the local municipality allowed homes to be built on that cesspool, and when deformities and birth defects and cancers showed up years later, the municipality WENT AFTER HOOKER.

    That must be acceptable to you, right? Maybe, but not to me.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    How about the EPA and the Animas river? Anything private industry can do government can do better!

  • rudehost||

    "The result of the Freedom Industries incident is that the company was able to impose an externality with an unknowable cost on a people covering a significant portion of West Virginia."

    And they did this despite regulation and inspections which they did in fact pass. So regulations that failed to protect anyone is your argument in favor of regulations? There are actual libertarian answers here. Holding people personally responsible in situations like this rather than allow them to hide behind a corporate veil is both libertarian and more practical.

  • ||

    The practical problem with relying on regulations is their enforcement is selective and open to interpretation.

    The advantage to the concept of liability is that in any case in which a provider of some good or service can expect to be sued if that good or service damages people the provider self-regulates. This is 100% more effective than relying on inspectors to issue fines.

    In fact, regulation has a tendency to provide cover for bad behavior as compliance can be a shield against liability while regulations tend to be full of loopholes and oversights.

    Thus, per your example, "science" already "knows" that we don't want the toxins in the river. A bunch of scientists lending their signatures to a regulation does not de facto make that regulation more robust or enforceable. But iron-clad property rights and liability laws make the regulations superfluous.

  • mortiscrum||

    RE: But iron-clad property rights and liability laws

    This greatly puzzles me. You're saying that rather than rely on the legislative branch of government, we should rely on the judicial branch. Why is one any better than the other? A paragon of a legislative branch would be able to accomplish social engineering as a statist imagines, while a paragon of a judicial branch would be able to accomplish justice as a libertarian imagines. Both are pure fantasy.

    There's a great deal of logic in regulations being proactive. If my child experiences developmental problems due to exposure to lead, how much of a fuck do I really give that I can successfully sue the company who irresponsibly contaminated the water table? It's too late at that point.

    A truly just society needs a robust legislative AND judicial branch.

  • ||

    You're saying that rather than rely on the legislative branch of government, we should rely on the judicial branch.

    No, I'm not.

    That which we refer to as "regulation" tends to have its origin in the Executive, not the Legislative, branch.

    Congress can pass laws all day long saying "thou shalt not dump poison in the rivers." If someone gets caught dumping poison in the rivers, they'll be in trouble. If they get caught.

    If you read what I wrote, you'll find the observation that compliance with regulations will tend to shield one from liability rather than exposing one to it. As someone who works in a highly regulated industry (construction) I can assure you that these truths be self-evident.

    I used to work for a really sleazy contractor. I mean a real garden-variety bottom-feeder type. Compliance with regulation is only as thorough as your inspector, and will only ever have as much integrity as the inspector.

    Do you know what kept my old boss in line? The fear of getting sued. Regulations mean nothing at all - merely so many hurdles to overcome. But you'd better believe that when it came to real issues of liability like safety and structural integrity? No inspector needed. His own self-serving paranoia was all the check and balance needed.

  • mortiscrum||

    I find your example compelling, though I'm skeptical it scales to large corporations. An individual of limited means WOULD fear a lawsuit. A large company with a squadron of lawyers and millions of dollars in resources? A lot less to fear from the courtroom.

    A more reactive system based on lawsuit is the better method to monitor the small dealings of localized individuals and businesses. As you note, the practicality of inspecting everything to a satisfactory degree is just not possible. However, when it comes to large national or international corporations, only the government has the means to plausibly serve as a watchdog.

  • Enemy of the State||

    You assume businesses want bad press too to go along with their legions of high priced attorneys...

  • mortiscrum||

    Of course they don't WANT bad press, but I am saying companies will make gambles that risk their dollars and other people's health or safety. Sometimes, that's not acceptable.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Businesses just love to pay out millions in damages. Their shareholders really reward them when they lose lawsuits. Honest.

  • Brian||

    No, large corporations just do "regulatory capture."

    I'm sorry: "protectatory capture."

    In other words, liability isn't perfect, so assume legislature.

  • commentguy||

    Your tort-based approach to public safety seems flawed and based on a simplistic scenario where the harms done are easily attributed, e.g. my neighbor dumps nuclear waste in my back garden and I sue him to cover the cost of the cleanup.

    Firstly, it leaves no protections in place for those who die and don't have families to take up lawsuits for loss of income (or whatever other grounds one might use to sue).

    Secondly there are immense barriers to establishing liability. For example, if I die from exposure to lead in petrol fumes, who should my kids sue? There are lots of petroleum companies and it's rather hard to apportion blame; alternately is it the fault of everyone who drove through my town in the last thirty years? It's also quite difficult to prove specifically that the lead killed me. We know that lead is a poison but can't always unequivocally attribute deaths into one category or the other. Since it's possible to make functional cars that don't rely on leaded gasoline, it makes sense to ban the stuff that shortens life expectancy.

    When we know a chemical is dangerous then the government has a role to play in deciding whether the harms outweigh the benefits - but we should certainly have a candid debate about the harms and benefits.

  • OldMexican Blankety Blank||

    Re: Lester224,

    I'd rather have sound, peer-reviewed science promoting regulation...


    Marxism was scientific, presumably, and was more than peer-reviewed.

    I prefer not to trust anyone when it comes to curtailing people's rights and liberties.

  • ||

    The practical problem with eliminating environmental regulations and instead depending on property laws and lawsuits is that lawsuits follow deaths and damage rather than preventing them.

    I *hate* having to wait for someone to break the law before we throw them in a cage. What we really need is a better system, based on science, that allows us to throw them in a cage before anybody catches them committing a crime! Sure, lawsuits are already trivially easy to file and anybody can pretty much bring any suit, even ones without merit, at will but what we really need is a lower burden of proof!

    It should be clear that even after establishing these laws to protect the environment and favor the plaintiff, the EPA effectively still just goes around looking for pre-established or pre-decided cases of illegal dumping/contamination and *then* takes action to litigate and/or clean up. That shouldn't be the EPA's job because inevitably, they will fuck up a cleanup and we can't have them ruining the environment too. The EPA's job should be to jail people, cripple corporations, and displace citizens solely on rumor and anecdote... I mean scientific speculation. It's just a matter of how to do so practically without *any* litigation.

  • GILMORE™||

    lawsuits follow deaths and damage rather than preventing them.

    As it should be. Science is based on evidence, not the precautionary principle.

  • Jerryskids||

    As big a problem is that these regulations Trump's rolling back are last-minute additions to the catalog by the Obama administration, regulations that haven't even had time to fully go into effect or were not properly assessed as to the cost/benefit. The media is reporting this as if Trump has signed an EO allowing chemical plants to start dumping toxic waste straight into the municipal water supply reservoir and we're going straight back to 1880's-level pollution controls. As far as they're concerned, the entirety of the regulatory state bureaucracy is even now being frog-marched out into the courtyard and being executed and goddammit every child in the country is now going to be forced to eat a bowl of asbestos-coated lead chips for breakfast, washed down with a tall glass of mercury.

  • damikesc||

    Clinton did the same thing. I remember him passing absurdly ridiculous arsenic rules right before he left office and when Bush repealed them, the Democrats claimed Bush wanted "arsenic in our drinking water".

    It is, sadly, an effective strategy.

    As far as they're concerned, the entirety of the regulatory state bureaucracy is even now being frog-marched out into the courtyard and being executed

    Man, got my hopes up that this was true...

  • Greg F||

    Some of them have been around quite a while. If someone returns items such as nail polish, hair spray, mouthwash, household cleaners, or light bulbs to a retailer, that are damaged and can't be sold, they become hazardous waste. On top of that transporting them now involves a labyrinth of DOT regulations.

  • paranoid android||

    I'm usually not conspiracy-minded, but I've long harbored a suspicion that somehow, by some mechanism--some successor to JournoList or other network--there's just a memo that gets sent to major news organizations to coordinate talking points to the benefit of Democrats/Progressives. Like back in the early days of the Obama administration, when the stimulus was passed, and suddenly everyone was using the phrase "jobs created or saved" - a phrase which to the best of my memory was never part of the political lexicon before, and was never properly defined, and is meaningless on its face, was suddenly used by every news personality on cable. It's difficult not to see the phenomenon Bailey is describing here in the same light, and I could probably think of other examples if pressed. It's too persistent to be coincidental.

  • B.P.||

    "gravitas," "dark tone," etc. etc.

  • ||

    of course there is a group. but it's always fun to remember that some prog hated Weigel so much that he was willing to burn Journolist down to ratfuck him.

  • colorblindkid||

    There's no memo needed. The press has become an arm of the Democrat party. There is zero separation between government and the press anymore. They're all friends, and many of them are married or related.

  • Jerryskids||

    I don't think there's any organized group, it's just the result of the incestuous relationships among a group of like-minded individuals. It's not as if Reuters, ABC, the NYT, NPR, and Time magazine are all sending squadrons of reporters out to scour the land in search of stories - Reuters reports what some flack at the FDA says, the NYT reports what Reuters said and adds an expositional quote from some friendly source, ABC reports what the NYT said and adds a film snip of some telegenic sciency-looking guy explaining why this is a big deal, NPR reports what ABC said and adds a sound bite from a completely biased analyst stating that this is yet more proof Republicans are worse than Hitler, and then Time magazine runs a photo-shopped picture of George Bush picking his nose.

  • ||

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  • Get To Da Chippah||

    The Fourth Estate is now just an outhouse behind the DNC headquarters.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Well *in* the outhouse...

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    A recent one I noticed was the almost instantaneous usage of Nixonian to describe firing Coney. Not just that newspapers used it, but that almost everyone I know personally started using it as well.

    Of course, Nixonian is not a new word or anything. Still, very rapid uptake there.

  • Brian||

    They're all so same-minded that they all read, share, and think the exact same things.

    So all "regulations" are "protections", they all say in unison.

  • TJJ2000||

    There is; Here's one of them - http://www.flashalertnewswire.net/

  • Tony||

    You're not conspiracy minded, but Journolist! Lol. Where do you idiots get this crap?

    Maybe the news media favors democrats because republicans are being led by an insane corrupt clown and have no coherent ideas.

  • Sevo||

    Tony|5.13.17 @ 2:11PM|#
    "...Where do you idiots get this crap?"

    Most of the "crap" deposited here is a result of your efforts, twit. Please keep your crap to yourself.

  • commentguy||

    FYI Google ngrams says that "jobs created or saved" first appeared in 1970, peaked in 1981 and by 2008 (most recent year with data available) had dropped to quarter of its peak popularity.

  • B.P.||

    It's almost as if these reporters coordinate their coverage.

  • GILMORE™||

    "Re"?

  • lap83||

    Right? I wasn't aware that they ever marketed those regulations as anything else. It's not like previously they were upfront about hating people and markets.

  • ||

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    A group who refers to taxation as theft should not pretend to be neutral outside observers in the reframing of words.

  • BYODB||

    What would you call someone taking away your money without your consent? If anything, the word 'tax' was invented because it sounded better than 'theft'.

  • ||

    I sort of like the word impuesto.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    I get the feeling this is going to be squirreled.

    Is insurance also theft?

  • Microaggressor||

    I'm sorry, but this is really stupid. One is a voluntary purchase (before Obamacare, anyway) and the other is not.
    If I choose not to pay my taxes, guess what's going to happen?
    Theft is the taking of someone's property with trickery or violent coercion.
    When a mugger points a gun to my head and says "empty your wallet", it's theft.
    When a police officer says "we can do this the easy way, or we can do this the hard way", it's still theft. Even if a gun is never drawn, the threat is unmistakable.

    Not understanding the difference between voluntary and coercive transactions is the hallmark of a Marxist/progressive fucktard.

  • Sevo||

    $park¥ leftist poser|5.12.17 @ 2:58PM|#
    "Is insurance also theft?"

    Does the insurance man promise to throw you in jail if you don't pay?
    I see your dishonesty is matched by your stupidity.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    In any case, you're taking an action that has a word for it, taxation, and substituting in a word with a heavier negative connotation, theft. You're reframing the argument to be more emotional.

  • GILMORE™||

    Since we're on the topic, how should libertarians weigh the opinions of people who describe themselves as a "leftist poser"?

  • GILMORE™||

    *footnote: this is a rhetorical question. i don't care what your answer is.

  • Crusty Juggler aka "Chad"||

    Awww.

    :(

  • GILMORE™||

    honesty is the best policy.

  • Sevo||

    $park¥ leftist poser|5.12.17 @ 3:03PM|#
    "In any case, you're taking an action that has a word for it, taxation, and substituting in a word with a heavier negative connotation, theft."

    Yeah, using the correct term is often uncomfortable with lefty assholes trying to hide their intent.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    Awww, look at all the chapped assholes I caused.

  • Sevo||

    $park¥ leftist poser|5.12.17 @ 8:28PM|#
    "Awww, look at all the chapped assholes I caused."

    Aww, see what an asshole sparky is!

  • Lord_at_War||

    Brush your tongue when you brush your teeth- much better for the assholes you're licking and leaving chapped...

  • Spinach Chin||

    Do mainstream conservative columnists refer to taxes as "theft" in their headlines?

  • ||

    A group who refers to taxation as theft should not pretend to be neutral outside observers in the reframing of words.

    Except, most frequently, I/we explicitly state the equivocation to demonstrate the false distinction. 'Taxation is theft' is the slogan to invoke larger conceptions about government and the use of force. Libertarians don't generally use the word theft to mean taxes and expect everyone else to understand and/or follow along. Whereas the simple substitution of protection for regulation in regular speech rather than a slogan like 'Environmental regulation is environmental protection' is more devious/underhanded.

    We don't state that 'Taxation is theft' because we think there should be zero taxes. We state that 'Taxation is theft' because we think the government should collect taxes absent the use of force and 'Taxation should be only force-free government fundraising' doesn't exactly have the same ring.

    Also, as a leftist poser, I would've expected a notation that the agency is the Environmental *Protection* Agency and that it was named by a Republican President. But then, that just sets things up for a whole 'Ministry Of Truth' rabbit hole.

  • Sevo||

    $park¥ leftist poser|5.12.17 @ 2:28PM|#
    "A group who refers to taxation as theft should not pretend to be neutral outside observers in the reframing of words."

    So a group which tells the truth should not object to those who propose propaganda instead of facts?
    Were you born that dishonest or did it take years of practice to become so?

  • BYODB||


    "So keep an eye out for reframing, everyone! Otherwise, rhetoricians might get away with reframing those costly, job-killing environmental regulations as healthy, community-building environmental protections."


    They'll get away with it, since they pretty much already have in a plurality of people's minds. The progressives have won by-and-large, the only strategy left is waiting for those 'protections' to crush enough people that they start to question the narrative they're being force-fed.


    Somewhat ironically a guy like Trump might actually open some idiots minds to the idea that a strong Federal government is naturally a tool of tyranny.

  • Jerryskids||

    You sound racist. Probably due to the rape culture your kind have inflicted on the 99%. I'll bet you're an Islamaphobe, too.

  • BYODB||

    I am indeed racist since I believe whole-heartedly in a color blind society. I have been told this by people without irony before.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    Same. I've been told, by white people, that black people want to be seen as black people and seeing them as just people is highly racist.

  • ||

    Somewhat ironically a guy like Trump might actually open some idiots minds to the idea that a strong Federal government is naturally a tool of tyranny.

    I think it's inevitable really. Back when I used to teach English, this is what I told my students about why PC language policing was a misguided movement.

    You can force a new word to take the place of an old word whose connotations you don't like, but it will only be a matter of time before the new word starts to take on the old connotations, but with an added layer of cynicism.

    "I had to junk my car and buy a new one I can't really afford because of government protections."

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Somewhat ironically a guy like Trump might actually open some idiots minds to the idea that a strong Federal government is naturally a tool of tyranny.

    I wonder. I see very little indicating people are shaken from their belief that the problem isn't government, just that those in the government don't care enough about the people.

  • BYODB||

    Yes, but realizing that government power is corrupt when wielded by one set of hands is a natural stepping stone in the progression to government power is corrupt in someone else's hands as well. Someone like Trump is a big enough shock to the system that it might actually jolt some people into that realization. Someone like Romney or another Bush simply wouldn't be a big enough jolt since they don't meaningfully deviate from the statist view of power, merely the exercise of it.

    Not to say that Trump isn't a statist, but he's an inept one and allows light to peek through the states façade of infallibility.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    realizing that government power is corrupt when wielded by one set of hands is a natural stepping stone in the progression to government power is corrupt in someone else's hands as well

    What if Rand Paul were president?

  • paranoid android||

    I'd see some hope for this if I thought there would be some great conservative upheaval against Trump, but I don't see that happening at this point. The conservative consensus is mostly that Trump is just great and should get more power so he can keep sticking it to liberals/the media/immigrants/whoever. And the only opinion the left will tolerate is that they just need to assert *more* control so that if/when they regain power they can clamp down to prevent another Trump from happening again.

    Sad as it is to say, the idea that the massively centralized coercive power in the government *is itself* the problem is an extremely fringe idea in American politics these days.

  • Crusty Juggler aka "Chad"||

    Agreed. I am hopeful he will eventually help create the notion that government is the problem, but I highly doubt it happens. It seems like everyone wants government to flog their desires, and not the desires of the other side.

  • Eman||

    I find the idea of the government caring about me a little creepy

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Lakoff - rhymes with "jack off?"

  • GILMORE™||

    "Jake off", really. But its a question worth asking repeatedly to people who cite him.

  • Longtobefree||

    All regulations are protection to the left.
    Newspeak 101.

  • Dallas H.||

    Sure is interesting how reporters instantly jump on this language change to help push the left's talking points but have no issue using scare quotes around things such as "religious freedom." It's almost like they have some kind of agenda.

  • Brian||

    I can't take anyone seriously who tries to make a blanket declaration that all "regulations" are "protections."

    He already sounds like a ridiculous idiot.

  • Eman||

    Nothing bad has ever happened because people were thinking about what was good for society too much.

  • Robert||

    I don't get how this is rebranding. Hasn't it always been thus? What's the P in EPA for?

  • mtrueman||

    It's a slow day in the world of science.

  • aajax||

    I agree with Lakoff. Regulations are generally protections, they just are usually not worth the cost. And too often they are promulgated to solve a problem caused by some other regulation.

  • teeduke||

    Layoff's recommendations are instructive. Language frames perceptions and can make more persuasive arguments. Both sides can play that game. Unfortunately, the media own the biggest microphones and their liberal bias slants most of what people see when they first see it.

  • Mark22||

    "What would increase the public's wellbeing?"

    What would increase the public's wellbeing is to react to "American propagandists for totalitarian government, like George Lakoff, in the same way we reacted to Russian propagandists for totalitarian government": with well-deserved revulsion.

  • Sanjuro Tsubaki||

    The NYT and "Democracy Dies in Dorkness" Washington Post are the last remaining pillars of objective journalism and not leftist rags.

    So hold in your barf and refrain from attacking these prestigious institutions who in no way have anything to do with our country's decline. Besides, Reason contributors are no doubt looking for further gigs after they leave the magazine. Journalism!

  • MadMykel||

    "People on the left, he argues, need to reframe progressive taxation as requiring "those who benefit most should pay their fair share."

    He's kind of shooting himself in the foot on this one, isn't he? I mean, the people who "benefit most" are those receiving free stuff/money from the government, how can they "pay their fair share?" I'm confused, I don't get it...

  • Tony||

    If polluting industry interests and the tribal poodles doing their rhetorical bidding for free ever successfully dismantled the regulatory system, they'd just move on to dismantling the tort system. "Reform" is the bullshit nice-sounding word they employ there. Libertarians would cheer it on the whole way, of course.

  • Tony||

    Regulation didn't have to be a bad word. But people like you made it into one. The biggest lie of all is the implication that people who favor environmental regulations do so for no reason whatsoever or just to dickslap companies they don't like. The entire point is protection. Both words are accurate. It's the right that loves to mangle perceptions and definitions. Their idea of environmental protection was the Clear Skies Initiative, one of their more Orwellian contributions to the world.

  • Sevo||

    Tony|5.13.17 @ 2:14PM|#
    "Regulation didn't have to be a bad word. But people like you made it into one."

    First, regulation everywhere and always impedes progress, so you had better have good reason for it, and that doesn't include your standard "I'm a lefty POS and I don't like it!"
    Secondly, accusing the messenger of pointing out the inherent lies does not make the messenger guilty of anything.
    I shouldn't have to point stuff like this out to you, but it seems your progress through the 3rd grade hasn't quite gotten to the finer points of logic.
    Have I pointed out that you're a lefty POS?

  • Entelechy||

    mtrueman|5.12.17 @ 9:16PM|#

    "It's a slow day in the world of science."

    That didn't stop the universe from growing by another hundred trillion trillion cubic light years anyway.

  • awestphal||

    Only 6.4 billion billion cubic light years, but who's counting? What's 7 orders of magnitude between friends?

  • awestphal||

    Government has a moral duty to protect and empower its people. Private corporations have no such duty to citizens, which is why maintaining a robust Public is absolutely necessary to ensure everyone's well-being, prosperity, and safety.

  • Sevo||

    awestphal|5.13.17 @ 4:56PM|#
    "Government has a moral duty to protect and empower its people. Private corporations have no such duty to citizens, which is why maintaining a robust Public is absolutely necessary to ensure everyone's well-being, prosperity, and safety."

    First, government does not "own" its people.
    Secondly, there is no duty to "empower".
    Thirdly, presuming that a 'protecting' people through regulations is not proven.
    Finally, I doubt you even have a clue as to what this means:
    "Private corporations have no such duty to citizens, which is why maintaining a robust Public is absolutely necessary to ensure everyone's well-being, prosperity, and safety."

  • awestphal||

    Privatization makes the life of citizens more expensive: corporations work to maximize profit with no moral obligation to customers. They offer services and goods at the price the market will bear. Basic protections and empowerments often cost more when they are put in the hands of corporations rather than left in the hands of the public, which is not concerned with making a profit.

  • Loss of Reason||

    "Government has a moral duty to protect and empower its people"

    How is that working out in Venezuela?

    Oh wait, your hold reason is because the government knows better than the evil evil corporations right? I mean for the evil corporations, who want to make a profit, they have to you know have buyers, make a good product, and have a good public image (Dove and Target as examples that have pissed off 50% or more of their customers"

    Government we just take your money. We say we are going to spend it on roads, they don't, or schools, they don't, or a social security, hint they don't, but that's ok! We are the government.

    So one I have a choice and the other I don't . Sure, we get get to vote for someone that has a better public image but once in office doesn't change the status quo.

    But you know all this because you feel you are a "right" thinking right Awestphal? I mean Bernie is awesome. We have to many choices but he has what 3 houses worth millions comrade

  • awestphal||

    The Public and the Corporate need each other and need to be in balance. Honest business has been the American way for a long time, supported by the Public, regulated by the government, and producing goods, services, and well-paying jobs for citizens.

  • Sevo||

    awestphal|5.13.17 @ 6:14PM|#
    "The Public and the Corporate need each other and need to be in balance>

    That's an assertion, not an argument. Prove it.

  • awestphal||

    No one makes it on his or her own without the Public. People who are wealthy haven't built their own roads and schools, educated their own knowledgeable employees, or done their own basic research, nor are they fully protected by their own private army and police, nor do they maintain their own clean food supply.

  • awestphal||

    Privatization is the transfer of public property, public functions, and public institutions into private hands. Often privatization works well. But where people's basic protection and empowerment are concerned, it is the government's duty to preserve the freedom of citizens.

  • Jayburd||

    For fuck's sake, Bailey, why don't you do an article on how they teach this shit in college? Classes actually called "Spin 101"? "Surprised", HA HA HA HA!

  • ||

    PR people: Protecting you from confusing critical thinking, government protecting you from malicious freedoms.

  • awestphal||

    Brought to you by government for, among other things, protection and empowerment: roads, sanitation, bridges, air traffic control, clean air, Hubble Space Telescope, clean water, safe food, science, safe workplaces, national defense, copyright protection, safe medications, antimonopoly laws, police, smallpox eradication, coast guard, patent protection, seatbelts, diplomacy, money, disaster relief, polio eradication, PET, national parks, weather forecasting, universal childhood education, MRI, courts, and many many other things that we take for granted but which are not taken for granted by more than 90% of humanity (with the exception of smallpox, thankfully).

    Developed by government and passed to industry, or developed by industry/government partnerships: childhood vaccines, computers, microelectronics, the internet, e-mail, the laser, microwave ovens, cancer immunotherapy, CRISPR, space travel, GPS, and on and on.

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