Thom's online class in NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming).
Week 3: Framing. The map is not the territory.
Thom Hartmann NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) class week 3
Thom Hartmann program, 30 November 2004
see, hear, feel, framing
We're going to do our NLP class for the week, here, in just a moment, and we're going to talk today about framing. I'll explain what that is, a little bit more about what NLP is, and we'll get into that in just a minute. ...
... Let's get to NLP. Neurolinguistic programming is really just a set of understandings of how effective communicators communicate. It came out of the research that John Grinder and Richard Bandler did, back in the 1960s, late 1960s and early 1970s looking at the behavior patterns of people who were truly, startlingly, amazingly effective communicators who produced change in other people through their communication. Ah, people like Fritz Perls, who started Gestalt Therapy, who founded Gestalt Therapy, in fact Richard Bandler sort of half ghost wrote the Perls's autobiography, "In and out of the Garbage Pail" and one of his books on Gestalt Therapy. Fritz Perls, Virginia Satir, the child and family therapist, Milton Erickson, probably the most famous medical hypnotist in history. There have been so many books written about Milton Erickson. He never wrote anything himself, to the best of my knowledge, but Sydney Rosen's book, "My Voice Will Go with You", Jay Haley's books on Milton Erickson. Rossi, Milton Rossi, who recorded a number of, hundreds of hours of tape of Erickson doing work and wrote a book about it.
So anyhow, what they did was studied these folks and they said, "What are these people doing that produces change?", that they think is some unique thing, that is actually something that we can model, 'cause one of the presuppositions of NLP is that genius is simply a collection of behaviors that you can model and replicate. So the question was, how do you, how do you , how do you replicate this? What is the structure of genius? What is the structure of communication? What is the structure of persuasion? How are these things organized? This led to the first two books on NLP that were written, by Bandler and Grindler. One was titled "Frogs into Princes" - it's about transformation - and the other was called "The Structure of Magic". NLP, or communication, of course being the magic.
So one of the most important and seminal concepts of NLP is called framing. And framing starts out with the assumption that we all view the world, or hear the stories of the world, or have a sense or carry a feeling about the world, and all the issues in the world, in our world through preconceived frames. And in fact this is not just like an interesting thing, you know, an idiosyncratic thing, or a sometimes thing. This is an always thing and it is a necessary thing. Frames are necessary in order to help us understand and place significance on things. We require frames in order to be able to understand complexity in a simple way. So we have frames like my family. It's a two word phrase that encompasses something different for everybody but it has a very specific meaning. My country, a frame. Patriotism, a frame. These are words that immediately evoke significance or meaning. In marketing, this is often referred to as packaging or branding. In psychology it would simply be called a way of framing things.
In fact I remember in debate class when I was in high school, our debating instructor would talk about framing your arguments. You know, how do you frame your argument? What is the position that you're standing on. What is the take that you have? Literally, what is the construction of your frame? Because once you've defined the frame then you've colored or tinted or changed the meaning of everything that is contained in that frame. And you get to define it. You get to control it.
George Lakoff wrote a great book on framing. It's called "Don't Think of an Elephant" and the subtitle is "Know Your Values and Frame the Debate". It, along with a DVD that George Lakoff has in which he discusses these issues and talks about how to do this, is the Buzzflash Premium for the month. Ah, I think it's expiring today or tomorrow. And then, every month for Buzzflash I write a book review. It's called the "Thom Hartmann's Independent Thinker Book of the Month". And the Independent Thinker Book of the Month for the month of November and, let's see, 30 November, today is the last day, is this Lakoff book and DVD. Tomorrow or Thursday we're gong to shift to the book for next month which will be "Wealth and Our Commonwealth" by Bill Gates senior and Chuck Collins but that's another topic.
And so anyhow, Lakoff starts out with the idea that by simply saying a few words you can cause another person, you can essentially take control of another person's brain. If I say to you, don't think of an elephant, how do you know how not to think of an elephant? You have to think of an elephant to know not to think of it. So by saying, "OK, here's, I don't want you to think about a blue elephant", now it's even more complex. And still, in order to know what not to think about, you have to think about it, and so that's like establishing, the frame here is what not to think about but the frame really, the meaning within it is the elephant.
So, there are a lot of frames that are used for political talk. In fact all politics, every political issue, ultimately always comes down to a frame. And historically politicians and political theoreticians have thought that the frame should be the most accurate possible descriptor or description of the issue. In other words the content is the meaning. And in the past twenty years or so the perception of this has changed, and it has changed in part because of things like NLP and its pervasive influence in marketing, and by virtue of the fact of the involvement of people who are familiar with NLP like Lee Atwater and Karl Rove and Frank Lunz. And if not specifically familiar with NLP, broadly familiar with NLP, specifically familiar with many of the specific precepts of it. And what they've come along and said is it doesn't so much matter.
In fact, here's the NLP presupposition that defines all this. And this is the real understanding of it. The NLP presupposition - there's a sixteen basic, oh it varies actually, depending on whose books you are reading - but there's a bunch of presuppositions of NLP we've talked about. There's been one for each one of these lessons. The one for this lesson is the map is not the territory. In other words our internal representation of the world is not the world; it's only an impoverished representation. We can't understand the world around us. We can't see everything, we can't know everything, we can't understand everything, we can't hear everything, we can't feel everything. So we create a map of the world, and that's our internal representation. And the reality is that most people in most situations think that the map is the territory without realizing that they are just looking at a map. The map is the frame.
So what the Conservatives have done with this, for example, is take for example the inheritance tax. For a long, long time in the United States, I mean for 200 years in the United States, going back to Thomas Jefferson writing about how there should be a tax on accumulated wealth because if wealth exceeded some unknown but probably easily defined threshold, and that was passed down from family to family, you would end up with a new aristocracy, a new hereditary aristocracy in the United States and that's anti-democratic, that's aristocratic. Jefferson was very explicit about this, as were virtually all the founders. And this is why none of the founders left foundations or fortunes. These guys were not the billionaires that some Conservatives and liberals, for that matter, would have you think. And in fact most of them were living pretty close to the edge, round the time of the revolutionary period, anyway.
So anyhow, so they, we had this inheritance tax. On and off through the nineteenth century, and then, you know, flipped on in the, as I recall, 1913, might have been 1916. And we've had it ever since and it has historically been called the estate tax or the inheritance tax. And the idea is, as Jefferson pointed out, every generation should begin anew. Now, it's OK to pass down some money but we don't want to create a permanent over-class in America simply because some one person accumulated an enormous amount of money. That would not be healthy for democracy. And so, on a, and this isn't to take away family farms. This is to stop the rise of Rockefeller family dynasties kind of things. And, or Kennedy family dynasties or Bush family dynasties.
And so we've had this tax, and so Frank Lunz came along and said, "You know, seventy percent of Americans support an inheritance tax or an estate tax. But when you call it a death tax, suddenly - you know, everybody dies. Not everybody has an inheritance or an estate, but everybody dies. Suddenly, only thirty percent of Americans support it. So let's just change the name, and us rich guys won't get taxed. Wouldn't that be cool? And it's worked. ...
... Welcome back, we're going to take a break from the NLP course just for a few minutes here and get a report from Ellen Ratner, the Talk Radio News Service about what's going on in Washington, DC, keep you up to date and interested and informed and then we will continue with our lesson on Neurolinguistic Programming and framing, how to take control of a conversation or a debate even before it has started. ...
... We'll be back with our NLP lesson for today right after this. ...
... song: "Oh baby, baby it's a wild world". So what should these frames be? What are the issues that we should be framing when it comes to politics? As I pointed out there, every issue, no matter what it may be, has to have a frame. It has to have some short way of saying it so that all the complexity within it is instantly understood.
Another example of how the Conservatives have framed, for example, taxes. We talked about the estate tax, the inheritance tax, being reframed as the death tax. Similarly, taxes in general, which we used to call tax investments. "How are we going to invest our tax monies?" Then it became, "How are we going to spend our tax monies?" Remember the Cons started talking about "tax and spend liberals"? Like spending tax dollars on things like schools and bridges and roads was a bad thing. And taxing people for that was a bad thing. Well now they went a step beyond that. They said, you know, "We don't want to be paying taxes, frankly" And, you know, the wealthy. And so taxes for them, for the wealthy, are a burden. And so we need to relieve people of the burden, of taxes. In order to have relief, of course, you have to have something that's a burden, right? Relieve your suffering. "Relieve your suffering during the allergy season with Privatine", or whatever it is. So there's this whole concept that relief is relief from something.
And so as soon as they put the world 'relief' after 'taxes', then that frame caused millions of Americans, hundreds of millions of Americans, to suddenly think of taxes as something from which people need relief and forget - it created amnesia - and forget that taxes are the price of admission to a civil society, and that our tax dollars are what we use to invest in our future, in educating our children, in building the infrastructure of our nation so that we can continue to exist as a free and independent country. And that historically, those who have sought to avoid paying taxes have been viewed as criminals or freeloaders. Instead now they are being celebrated, they're being put on TV and all the programs. You get Grover Norquist and Steve Forbes, and all these guys out there going "Oh, we shouldn't pay taxes" and so much so that the American people are willing to go along with George W. Bush borrowing eight trillion dollars from our children and our grandchildren, and of course we're going to have to pay some of the interest on it as well. But ultimately the principal is going to be paid by our children and our grandchildren in order to give 'relief' to the very wealthiest of the taxpayers. It's a world turned upside down.
So how can we reframe some of these issues? Well with regard to taxes, of course, we need to be going back to talking about people who don't want to pay taxes are freeloaders, that tax and spend is just fine but borrow and spend is not. Howard Dean today wrote a great piece, it's on yubanet.com, I'm assuming it's in other places in the country. He says, 'I do not believe it is our job to support a philosophy, which can be summed up as "Borrow and Spend, Borrow and Spend".' So, there you go. Framing what the Republicans are up to.
Let's look at a few other examples. Our social security system historically was referred to as a social security insurance system, because it is. It's not just for retirement. There are people who draw social security because they are disabled. There are people who draw, there's a variety of things contained within social security. The program is not a retirement system exclusively. It is an insurance system to keep people from experiencing disasters. That's what insurance is all about, to prevent people from having disasters. And some people retire exclusively on social security and the don't do it very comfortably, but they don't have a disaster. And they're trying to reframe this thing as a retirement system, the social security retirement system. It's not.
And they're trying to reframe it as a system which is broken and needs to be fixed or changed. And it's not broken. The social security trust fund, right now, is showing a huge surplus, a multi billion dollar surplus. Last year George Bush borrowed two hundred billion dollars from the social security trust fund to lower the national debt. The actual debt that Bush ran up last year, the actual deficit, rather, that Bush ran up last year was two hundred billion greater that the reported four hundred and change billion dollars, It was actually six hundred billion and change because he borrowed two hundred billion dollars from the social security trust fund. In fact, previous presidents have borrowed, this spans democratic as well as republican administrations, have borrowed so much from the social security trust fund that the government, that part of that eight trillion dollar debt, that two trillion of that debt, is money that the government owes to its own social security trust fund. Interesting, eh? So, the social security trust fund has a surplus right now and will until the year 2016, you know, based on all the current trends and demographics. And in the year 2016 it will actually have to start spending some of its trust fund. Because it will be bringing in less money than it's paying out, as the baby boomers retire. And that will continue until the year 2049.
In the year 2049 the social security trust fund will have spent all of the surplus that it has accumulated over the last 70 years and will have to start paying out with current dollars. And at the current rate of taxation they'd only be able to pay about two thirds of the benefits that they are paying right now, and this adjusted for inflation and everything.
The simple solution? Right now, >if you earn a hundred thousand dollars a year, you only pay social security taxes on the first eighty seven thousand. After that eighty seven thousand, you don't pay any social security tax, you don't pay any FICA. This is wrong. This is a regressive tax. This is a tax that hits all of the working poor, all of the middle class, and doesn't hit people who make a million dollars a year. You make a million dollars a year? You only pay social security tax on the first seventy nine thousand. That's wrong. Everybody should be paying social security tax. If everybody, if we simply eliminated the cap on social security tax, I mean if you want to fix the system so that there are going to be no shortfalls in the year 2049, just raise that cap from 78,000 dollars up to about a hundred, hundred and ten thousand dollars. And the problem is fixed forever. But if you took the cap off altogether, so that the Walton family had to pay into the social security trust fund or if, you know, God forbid, you were even to say, "Hey, those people who make their living sitting around the pool waiting for their dividend checks to arrive, dividend income and interest income, you also have to pay a social security tax on, then you could actually turn the social security program into a program where people would have very healthy, you know, very comfortable retirement, if they needed it. Instead, of course, the Cons want to privatize it, they want to hand it over to Wall Street.
They did this in England. And right now, about five percent of all the money that goes through the British pension system, the British social security system, which is in the middle of a huge scandal right now, by the way, about five percent sticks to the fingers of the corporations that administer it. Here in the United States, cost of administration of social security: less than one percent. Why? Because it's government bureaucrats doing it. They don't get huge salaries. They don't fly around in private jets. They don't have huge buildings. They don't have big advertising campaigns. They don't have multi million dollar CEOs. They don't have to pay dividends to their stockholders. They just do their job, administering social security. So, we need to reframe this and go back to calling it the social security insurance system and make it very clear to people that the social security system is not broken. It does not need to be fixed. Some time in the next thirty years, thirty to thirty five years, some time in the next thirty to thirty five years, we should raise the cap on the amount of income that gets taxed for social security so that we can continue to provide for people after the year 2049 at current rates. That's all. It's very simple, very straightforward.
OK, let's move on from social security. Morality and the culture wars. The Cons have succeeded in projecting the frame that morality means, whether it has to do with gay sex and abortion. They've absolutely succeeded in defining this two issue frame. And it's really important for us to start talking aggressively in public about the, to expand the frame of the word morality and start talking about the immorality of widespread poverty. That we support a culture of life. This is another frame that the Cons use. That we support a culture of life and therefore we are ending, working to end war. We're working to end the death penalty, and we're working to end premature death from lack of health care and malnutrition. Thirteen million people in the United States have food insecurity. That is to say they don't, they literally go hungry. This is a moral issue. Forty Five million people in the United States have no health insurance, and many of them are dying early. An estimated twenty to forty thousand people in the United States die prematurely because they don't have access to the kind of health care that would provide them with preventative screening. This is a moral issue.
We need to work to eliminate unnecessary abortions. Now here's, this is an interesting frame. When you say, eliminate unnecessary abortions, it's like saying don't think of a blue elephant, because as soon as you say unnecessary abortions, the person has to assume that there may be times when there are necessary abortions. And the reality is that there are times when there are necessary abortions, particularly if a fetus is malformed or, you know, going to term it's going to kill the mother, which does happen occasionally. And then there, you know, then there's the larger span of this. But working to eliminate unnecessary abortions through adoption incentives, contraceptive education, and increasing the economic status of the working poor. All of these things reduce abortion rates. What we saw was during the Clinton administration abortion rates went down. During the Bush administration abortion rates have gone up. Why? Because we have reduced education about contraception, we've reduced the availability of contraception, and we have seen the economic status of a large swathe of America decline. And all of those things lead to more unwanted, generally teenage, pregnancies. And thus more unnecessary abortions. They were unnecessary because those people shouldn't have gotten pregnant in the first place. Let's promote that frame.
Another morality frame is the right of all adult Americans to have legal protection for committed long term relationships. Whether you call it marriage, or civil unions, I don't care. But everybody, every American who is an adult and is in a committed long-term relationship should have the legal right to inherit from their partner, to visit their partner in the hospital, to have community property with their partner, to have, to share insurance benefits, and just they should have that right. This is a civil right. Let's reframe it as such.
When it comes to working, let's look at the frame, 'the Conservative war on working people'. From Ronald Reagan's union busting at PATCO, to W's privatization of unionized government jobs, to rewriting overtime laws, to changing the tax codes so people who earn their living by sitting by the pool waiting for the dividend check to arrive in the mail, and then pay lower or no tax rates than someone who works by the sweat of his brow or the energy of his mind, in all of these ways the Conservatives are waging war on the working people of America. This is a frame that I would love to see progressives, liberals and democrats start using. The war on working people. The Conservative war on working people. And when, and if that phrase is used often enough, then ever since Reagan declared war on the working people of America, with his anti-union agenda, his anti-overtime law, and now George W Bush rewriting the overtime laws, changing the tax code, so that working people pay higher tax rates, higher income tax rates than do people who earn their living by waiting for the dividend check to arrive. This is the war on working people in America. And the Cons are doing this so successfully and whenever anybody brings it up, they say "Oh, that's class warfare." Ah yes, and they declared it. And their class has been winning. It's time for us to take that back.
The war against America by pirate multinational corporations. Here's another frame for you, let's call corporations like Halliburton, that create offshore subsidiaries so that they don't have to pay taxes even when most of their business comes from American taxpayer dollars. Let's call them pirates. They have decided to be corporations without a nation just like pirates are people without a nation. They don't fly the British flag or the French flag or the American flag, they fly the pirate flag. Pirate multinational corporations who are taking control of the World Trade Organization and NAFTA. They have the power to force America to strike from our law books any laws or citizens' initiatives we passed in a democratic fashion that they don't like. This is wrong. We shouldn't have given pirates this kind of power over us. Bill Clinton made a mistake. Yes, 60 percent of the Democrats voted against him, but the 40 who voted with him and all those Republicans, it was a big mistake. We need to roll back the pirate initiatives of NAFTA, and the WTO, the GATT, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trades. And not promote CAFTA, another pirate initiative. Free Traders? No, they're pirates.
Another frame, the Conservative war against public education. The No Child Left Behind Act part of the Conservative war against public education. Very straightforward. Let's start redefining the frames. ...
... Here's some quick frames for you.
The environment. The Cons have tried to frame this as "We must balance environmental and economic needs." No, we need to define the environment as what keeps us alive, provides the oxygen we breathe, and the clean water and food we drink and eat. When we allow corporate interests to despoil it for profit we drive up cancer and other disease rates and endanger the delicate balance of life that keeps the world safe. Parks and wild places, we should reframe these from "resources to manage" to "these are the wild lands that were held in trust for us by previous generations that we must hold in trust for future generations.
Energy policy. We need to reframe this away from "energy for jobs and to maintain our lifestyle" and into "exciting new technologies that will cut our addiction to Middle East Oil and make America energy-independent while fuelling an explosion of jobs here at home." Yeah, and on it goes.
I'm going to have a few other frames I'll share with you in the next hour of the program. And as we go along, of course, throughout time. It's, but framing is just this absolutely key element. 1-866-889-8894 our telephone number, Gene in Oregon on the line.
Hey Gene, welcome to the program. "Hi Thom, ah, a couple of things. I'll do the easier one first. I've been kind of looking at these tax cuts for the corporations as corporate welfare." The idiots, yes, absolutely. And then there's overt corporate welfare, over a hundred and fifty billion dollars a year that's actually given to corporations, not cut from their taxes but actually written, you know, checks written to them for things like subsidies for oil and tobacco and on and on it goes, whereas we only pay forty two billion a year on human welfare.
"The other thing of it is, and this might be a little more controversial, you just said 'pirate corporations' or something along those lines." Right. "I might go so far as to call them more like terrorists in the sense that they work outside government. You know, they're in it more for themselves, as opposed to " Yeah, I don't that would fly, Gene, 'cause the terrorist frame has already been taken. "Oh, well, OK" And it's well established, you know, but the pirate frame is available. And I think it's a good one. I think it's a good way to describe these multinational corporations that have loyalty to nobody except themselves. That was what the pirates were all about. "OK, well I just wanted to comment." OK, I do appreciate it, good to hear from you, and thanks for listening. And for calling in.
Just a couple of others real quickly.
Health care. They want to, the Cons want to do health savings accounts. Let's say health care is a basic human right. Not something that should be owned by the rich conservative elite corporations and doled out to us when we can afford it. No, it's a basic human right.
Reframing religion and government. This is a big one. We want to keep religion from being contaminated by government. Another important frame.
Lots of things to frame. ...