What’s in a Catch Phrase?

Kiersten Marek offers a rare opportunity to highlight — in productive, conversational terms — what liberals and conservatives see differently in one of the topics over which they wrangle:

I know some at Anchorrising.com and the head of the Rhode Island Republican party, Giovanni Cicione, complain of the strong poverty advocacy lobby in the state, but when I read statistics like those above, it seems to me that our poverty advocacy lobby is not strong enough.

The statistics to which she refers are the various room and board payments to foster households in the Southern New England states, among which Rhode Island’s are substantially lower than the others. I’m not inclined to argue against increasing in-the-field payments; rather, the phrase that draws my attention is “strong poverty advocacy lobby.”
Like many who share my general ideology, I’m suspicious of these catch phrases not only because they’re grammatically vulgar (as if somebody’s advocating poverty), but also because the linguistic contortions just give the impression that they’re disguising emphases. I don’t think, for example, that many people on my side of the aisle are opposed to strong advocacy on behalf of those in need. (Otherwise, I’d find my church a much less hospitable place.) The complaint is that having a “strong poverty advocacy lobby” doesn’t mean that the worthy cause is being advocated with particular strength or effectiveness; it means that the lobby wields strength on its own behalf.
If advocacy on behalf of the poor were strong, it wouldn’t rely so heavily on those who stand to benefit financially from increasing budgets, but would treat service providers as another group that must be lobbied for the benefit of those who receive services. As Marc, especially, has been pointing out, lately, the funds are there, and I’d suggest to Kiersten that the goal of lobbying shouldn’t be a bottomless pit of taxpayer resources, but accountability and effectiveness of the entire system, from the tax collector through to low-rung state employees.

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Sean
Sean
13 years ago

It’s too bad that ideologues like Marek can’t understand that government should be run with the mindset of allocating scarce resources. Instead, her ilk views government as an endless money tree via it’s taxing authority. That much is apparent from a perusal of her website.
There are many government programs that should be funded properly.
Unfortunately, there are far too many more that should not be funded at all. And this is where those espousing the money tree theory run into the reality of the scarce resource theory, ultimately hurting those who need the help the most.
It’s truly too bad the Marek’s of the world can’t understand this. They like to think of themselves as “progressive.” They are anything but.

Sean
Sean
13 years ago

It’s too bad that ideologues like Marek can’t understand that government should be run with the mindset of allocating scarce resources. Instead, her ilk views government as an endless money tree via it’s taxing authority. That much is apparent from a perusal of her website.
There are many government programs that should be funded properly.
Unfortunately, there are far too many more that should not be funded at all. And this is where those espousing the money tree theory run into the reality of the scarce resource theory, ultimately hurting those who need the help the most.
It’s truly too bad the Marek’s of the world can’t understand this. They like to think of themselves as “progressive.” They are anything but.

Tim
Tim
13 years ago

Sean,
“Progressives” are nothing more than last centuries liberals. They don’t realize the name change does nothing to help their historically failed ideology. lol

klaus
klaus
13 years ago

Justin, your “argument” borders on incoherent. First, you seize on the phrase “poverty advocacy” as if that’s the key to her position. Read her post and it’s obviously not. In a properly argued position, the conclusion follows from the premise(s). Since this is your only premise, and it’s not germane, that means your entire “argument” collapses. So what was your point? And what was the whole bit about “lingustic contortions” and “disguising emphases” supposed to mean? I guess I’m just a dense liberal, but it doesn’t sound like you’re actually *saying* anything, and trying to cover that up with, well, “lingustic contortions.” So what was your point? Oh, right, your straw man. That liberals only care about bottomless pits of taxpayer money, or how your side believes in accountability–which implies that liberals don’t. What a crock. Read Kiersten’s post. She is saying that the maybe we need to re-consider the priorities we use to allocate money. If that ain’t accountability, it’s sure close. Let’s look at this from a free market perspective. The system pays peanuts; it doesn’t work. Ergo, it seems like free market theory would argue that you need to increase the payment to attract more effective into the system. Or, don’t you believe in the free market? If you do, then what’s wrong with my last statement? Same with teachers. If the ones we have are lousy, then we need to pay them more to attract better candidates. At least, that’s what the CEO of one of the for-profit school companies said. Actually, Marc had the intelligence to realize that he and Kiersten agreed that the problem may not be the amount of money spent, but the allocation of it. So you don’t believe in the free market, and you don’t agree with Marc. Where does that… Read more »

Justin Katz
13 years ago

Klaus, The puzzle of how to respond to you is getting tiresome. For one thing, claiming to “have a life,” you make your snide retorts and then never respond to replies. For another thing, apparently assuming the worst of meaning and intentions from me, you miss my point and proceed to declare that I’ve made none. Well, perhaps I’ve a moment to make a brief explanation. As it happens (and as I stated), I agree with Kiersten that more money ought to go to fill vacancies and deficiencies on the front lines, as with foster homes. My intention, with the few hundred words that I had time and interest to offer, was to point out that I believe that our differences originate in her support of a “strong poverty advocacy lobby.” An organized lobby, as it shouldn’t surprise you to hear, is part of the problem in my view, because the lobby becomes part of the poverty industry. The linguistic contortion is that “poverty advocacy,” which literally would mean advocating poverty, has been hammered into an evocation of good, charitable actions but is too vague to connote a specific mechanism, system, or target audience. The upshot is that, when one uses a phrase such as “poverty advocacy lobby,” one is supporting the folks employed in funneling money and resources toward assisting the poor but making it difficult to include them as part of the problem. That seemed a consideration worth highlighting, because Kiersten does say that it is “not right” for some salaries to keep growing at DCYF while the system flounders, but she then turns her plea to “Rhode Island” and its resources. The reason I started by mentioning the possibility of productive and conversational discussion is that I think her post offers a foundation for working out some… Read more »

SusanD
SusanD
13 years ago

“you miss my point”
A.R. doesn’t require registration. Perhaps it should require that commenters provide evidence of a rudimentary reading level.

Pat
Pat
13 years ago

“you miss my point”
A.R. doesn’t require registration. Perhaps it should require that commenters provide evidence of a rudimentary reading level.
Posted by: SusanD at July 4, 2007 3:32 PM
Here here! Let’s start with the alphabet… Then the bible (especially) the new testament.. then the declaration of independence, then the US constitution… anyone who is still a conservative should be “examined.”

Kiersten Marek
13 years ago

Why do you think I believe in a bottomless pit of taxpayer resources?

Justin Katz
13 years ago

Kiersten,
See above for more explanation, but in brief, I see the (somewhat hyperbolic) goal of a “bottomless pit of taxpayer resources” as the inevitable consequence of a lobbying effort that is indistinguishable from the industry that profits from the lobbying. Although it isn’t clear from your post whether you think money for the front lines should be redirected out of those salary increases or found as new resources, I was suggesting that lobbying on behalf of the poor requires at least some lobbying against the entire system that is profiting, like vampires, from people’s misfortunes.

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