Money always talks, but it doesn't always win.
Big money will be talking plenty between now and November 2020. How does it make us do what it wants, even going against our own self-interest?
One of big money's targets will be the "Prop 13 reform" initiative on the ballot in California. Winning Prop 13 reform will have repercussions across the country. The money spent to oppose it will make money spent on other initiatives look like children's lunch money.
Prop 13 flattened property tax in 1978 and started the "tax revolt" that helped the super-rich more than anybody. Here is the key thing to remember, and to tell everyone between now and November 2020:
This Prop 13 reform does not affect residential property at all.
It does NOT affect renters or homeowners, second homes or vacation homes, not even huge luxury complexes owned by huge corporations, and it helps small businesses. What it does is eliminate corporate tax loopholes to make big corporations pay their fair share.
This Prop 13 reform will reverse 40 years of a trend where — rather than a 50/50 split before 1978 — today homeowners pay 72% of all property taxes and commercial properties only pay 28%. By closing corporate loopholes we can again achieve the enviable education system we once had, and improve our great parks and libraries, and even fill our great potholes.
Fear – Freedom – Frequency – Focus Groups
It's important that we know how big money spins, misrepresents, fabricates, and outright lies. In this blog and upcoming editions, we'll look at how big money talks and can sink such popular ideas as labeling GMOs, genetically modified food.
Fear is a big factor. Big money will try to make everyone think good initiatives — and even good corporate-free candidates — will hurt regular people, small business, and even government services.
Freedom is what they offer if you vote "No." Freedom from worrying that your taxes will go up, now or in the future. With Prop 13, for example, since the ratio of residential to commercial tax went from 50/50 to 72/28, our other taxes have already gone up — our regressive taxes, like parcel taxes and sales taxes, as well as fees for college tuition, parking, traffic fines, and park usage. Add to that, greatly reduced public services, affecting everyone.
Frequency is important to recognize. It takes a lot of money to inundate television, radio, magazines, newspapers, and the internet. It is not just paid ads. Attacks, subtle and not so subtle, will come in regular news reports, in-depth articles and analysis, and even pieces that indicate support of the idea of the reform, but say this just isn't the right way to go about it.
ATTACK AD: Notice how this paid internet ad, a year in advance, spins the facts to scare homeowners.
Focus groups help them know what to say to us. The problem isn't just a bunch of clever people sitting in offices thinking up the best jingles. It's regular people sitting in focus groups answering questions, while clever people not only listen to the words people say, but also pay attention to all the nuances of facial expressions, and seemingly innocuous behaviors. That's how big money knows what to say to push our buttons.
Thank you for reading. Thank you for telling people the truth about Prop 13 reform — or any of the other good initiatives across the country. Thank you for every time you point out how big money lies to us in order to get its way.
P.S. We could classify Fear, Freedom, Frequency, and Focus-groups as "4F". During the Vietnam era 4F meant you were exempt from military service. We can recognize and reject their methods against people-powered initiatives, and give big money a 4F — exempt from voter support!