June 9, 2014 by Liberty
People put labels on everything. Not, I’m not talking about labels that you can find on a soup can. I’m talking about the labels that you can’t actually see. We attach terms to inanimate objects that have no objective value but suggest the object is positive or negative. It’s takes careful focus not to do this.
As I’m writing this, I’m looking out my window at cars parked on side of the street. I’m not much of a car guy but one car caught my attention. It’s a gold sedan with dark tinted windows. It’s clean and virtually new. Notice how that description can be proven false. If you looked out this window you could say, “Wait a second… That’s not gold. That’s hansa yellow!” (How you suddenly know that color is not relevant.)
This descriptions can be proven false. Those descriptions, however, were not the first things I thought of when I saw the car. The first thought that I had was, “That’s a nice car.” After labeling the car, I suddenly started to look for the descriptions to be the reason I labeled it. Take note of how impossible it’s to prove the car is nice…
First of all, cars are inanimate objects. Nice is a word typically reserved for people. While it’s definition means agreeable and could be used in this context, it means nothing. There is no way that anyone could prove whether the car is agreeable or not.
Now, to make the situation even more complex, the labels that we put on something actually change what we see. Science has regularly shown it. In one particular experiment, psychologists ended up increasing the IQ of students labeled gifted by 10-15 points on average. They did this by just telling the teacher to expect major intellectual growth from this student.
Labels can be used to do amazing things. They can also be used to do horrible things. Government is particularly good at the latter.
Government loves to pick its words carefully. Even if they have a word that perfectly meets the activity they perform, they regularly mislabel them to encourage different perceptions.
If I were to pull a drunk man off the street and throw him in my basement. That would be defined as kidnapping because I forced this man into my basement. Even if I did it for his own safety, it would still be kidnapping. But, when a cop pulls a drunk man off the streets, it’s not kidnapping. It’s arresting.
In fact, if that cop turns out to have lied about the man being drunk, it still would not be kidnapping. At worst, it will be labeled unlawful arrest. That suggests, even if the cop had no authority in the situation, it would still be defined differently.
When the police steal all of a person’s assets for being suspected of a crime, it’s not called theft. It’s called a seizure. These mislabeling tactics are regularly used by police and military but they can be seen everywhere in government.
Politicians love to throw inaccurate labels on everything. For one obvious example, the “Affordable Healthcare Act,” did not have any remote chance of making health care affordable. Virtually every economist in the country was announcing price increases before the law. Premiums have skyrocketed and more people are living without quality healthcare than ever. “Affordable” has absolutely nothing to do with the act that was passed. Despite that, people still connect the label “affordable” to the health care law.
Another Layer Of Absurdity
Taxes include one of the most deeply ingrained mislabels there are. The vast majority of people pay taxes because they’re required by law to pay taxes. They know, they could end up in jail, their family could starve, and their life can be ruined, if they don’t pay. This is not a tax. It’s an obvious extortion.
Despite this obvious extortion, people have been trained to use words to obscure this real meaning. When you go to an account, they don’t discuss the extortion (or even the tax) you are forced to pay. They instead discuss “the tax you owe.” Notice the presupposition in there. They’re suggesting that you bought a service from the government.
Owe is a word used to describe contractual debts. Not even a criminal would be crazy enough to say, “you owe me the money I’m going to steal.” At no point, has any citizen signed a contract to pay the government anything. This tax is “owed” whether a person has used government services or not. If you’re out of the country for the whole year, you’re still required to pay it. No one “owes” their taxes.
Digging out that single word from the fog of government absurdity was downright painful but it happens with virtually everything that government does.
Avoiding Manipulative Labels
There is no practical way that any individual can stop this completely absurd practice. There are too many cogs in the wheel. News organization have to protect it. They need government approval to stay on the air. They need advertisers that depend on that same government. Those advertisers need the government for liability and downside protection. The amount of money being made from these manipulative labels is hard to beat.
The only thing that you can do is speak honestly. Don’t fall into the trap of letting them redefine something as many times as they like. When you’re talking to a tax professional. Don’t call it a tax. Don’t respond when they say you owe something. The more people are willing to pretend these terms are true, the more the labels will stick. The more you’re willing to speak honestly, the more doubt people will end up having.
Labeling will not stop. It’s a natural part of being human. Just remember to not take any label too seriously until you look behind your first impression. Most of the labels you put in life won’t matter. (Why do I care if you think a car is nice or not?) That can make it easy to fall into the trap of trusting labels to help find descriptions. Keep your eyes open for the discrepancies that you’re bound to find.
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