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Say 'Rules,' Not 'Regulation' l.17.10

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Right now the ball is still up in the air on two issues vital to our future as a nation -- financial system reform and energy reform.  Some congressional action has already occurred on each of these, but the battles are not over yet.  That's why it's so important that we get our metaphors right, as we go into the home stretch.

Maybe you've noticed the sports metaphors I'm using?  These are the frames we should all be choosing now, for both issues. Every human activity has rules, implicit or explicit. The biggest de facto lie of supply side economics has been saying that markets or foreign trade can be 'free.'  There’s no such thing.  Even a village market high in the Andes has unwritten rules of order and fairness, and trade agreements are nothing but a set of rules about how business will be conducted.  Moreover our planet’s biosphere has iron rules.  We are all going to pay very big penalties if we keep on breaking them.

Conservatives always scream about how 'regulation' will harm business and our economy. In reality, that’s just them demanding the right to play the economic game with no rules. Or to play the game with secret, arcane, or unstated rules that favor them cheating, stealing, being criminally negligent of public safety, and lying to the public about it. This is exactly why we need good government—we need an honest referee. (Yes, I know our government is compromised right now -- publicly funded elections at every level should be the next really big 'rules' fight.)

The first step right now is to talk about playing by the rules again, the rules that keep us safe and help us get fair and square, win-win outcomes for every American.

Susan C. Strong, Ph.D.,

Founder and Executive Director

The Metaphor Project