Right-wing framing of the macro-economy

I’ve done a few of posts on conservative framing recently and I was subsequently reminded of a draft paper by Bill Mitchell and Louisa Connors called “Framing Modern Monetary Theory“. It discusses how the economy is generally discussed by mainstream commentators, before considering how an alternative narrative might be constructed using similar tactics as those in the mainstream. They argue that:

“The dominance of mainstream macroeconomics narrative in the public domain is achieved through a series of linked myths that are reinforced with strong metaphors.”

Below is a table from the paper by way of some examples. Many of these metaphors pop up on an almost daily basis. If, like me you frequent the comment sections of newspaper websites, you’ll see them all the time. They have all been absorbed by people and repeated back ad nauseum:



All of the metaphors in the table are either wrong or willfully misleading, but they been very successfully implanted into most people’s minds through constant reinforcement. The challenge is how to construct alternative metaphors to start to change the nature of the debate. UK Labour’s strategy (assuming they actually disagree with the Government) has been a poor one. As the authors say in the paper:

“…progressives should avoid debating within the frames that conservatives use. For example, attacking the British government’s pursuit of fiscal policy as being ‘too fast’ implies that the desirable alternative is more gradual (managed) reduction in the government deficit. The frame is that the budget deficit is bad and has to be reduced. The more productive progressive frame would be to explicate the functional role of government deficits…”


7 thoughts on “Right-wing framing of the macro-economy

  1. Reblogged this on Vox Political and commented:
    Here’s a fascinating piece that is not as lightweight as it might initially appear. Vox Political ran a piece a while ago on ‘Soundbite Britain’, on the premise that people are heavily influenced by oft-repeated phrases and that, if the Coalition’s opponents are to make any headway against the two Nasty Parties, they needed to frame some soundbites of their own. The same principle applies here.

  2. Others; –

    “Taxing generations yet unborn”

    “Spending money the nation does not have”

    “You can’t borrow your way out of debt”

    “End the something-for-nothing culture”

  3. Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog and commented:
    There are two very good points that come out of this article. Firstly, the Conservatives and Lib Dems are following Hitler’s advice on propaganda: use simple, powerful images and statements, and repeat them constantly. The other point is equally important: don’t allow the Tories to set the terms of the debate. That implies that they are right. The Right has already learned this lesson. If you go over to transatlantic – American and Canadian Conservative blogs, you will find them giving their followers exactly the same advice regarding debating Liberals on welfare, multiculturalism, feminism and so on. It’s about time we learned the same lesson and applied it right back to them.

  4. I find one of their most insidious codewords is ‘reform’, which is basically a euphemism for ‘gutting’ whatever they claim to be reforming. I have a number of articles related to neo-lib wrongness on my irreverent blog Politicoid

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