- From a design standpoint, this poster is effective. Readers likely see it, quickly nod agreement, and then click Like and Share!
- It uses simple statements with an authority figure as the source of the quote.
- Some of the claims are false or misleading, but they all seem plausible.
- The poster works by making assertions (some of which are not true) and using an appeal to authority. The poster was designed to appeal to the preconceptions of its target audience, who subscribe to the fake news outlet. The goal of the poster seems to be that there is a lot of wealth and a lot of poverty in the U.S., therefore, wealth is bad (or poverty is bad or industrialization is bad or whatever). Since the quote/poster never says what the conclusion is supposed to be, the conclusion is left to your own (pre-conceived?) thoughts.
Since the post asks, “What’s wrong with this picture?“, let’s take a look!
#1 in billionaires. Surprisingly, this claim is not true. China is #1 for billionaires. China now outranks the U.S. Obviously, a country with a large population has a greater possibility of being #1. Population distorts the metrics about claims to be #1.
This claim (that the US is #1 in billionaires) can be spun as both a negative and a positive. For example, if not #1 (and in fact we are #2), we can argue that this indicates the U.S. is lagging behind other countries. Would it be better if the U.S. was last on this list?
- The city with the most millionaires is – Tokyo!
- In Geneva, 1 in 6 people are millionaires,
- In London, 1 in 36 are millionaires.
Depending on the spin you want on your poster, you could write “U.S. cities fall behind international cities in wealth!” This statement about wealth can be spun in to a variety of messages – but its simple and effective for propaganda purposes to claim the US is #1 in billionaires (even if not true).
#1 in corporate profits
Imagine if the U.S. was #10 in corporate profits: would this poster argue that the current Administration has failed economic policies? This poster argues that being #1 in corporate profits is a bad thing. Would it be better if we were #100 in the world?
The argument sounds good on the surface but being #1 – or rather, being #100 (or any other position on the list) would be a negative!
This is a message that sounds good on the surface, and works as long as the target does not think about the statement. Most propaganda is designed to appeal to System 1 emotional thinking, so this flies right by most people.
“#1 in childhood poverty”?
What Bernie actually said was in “any major country”, which narrows the field. The Sanders campaign later narrowed it further to say a “major country” that is a “member of the OECD”. That narrows it to a set of 34 highly developed, economically strong nations.
And it is true that the U.S. has a high child poverty rate but, as detailed by Politifact, the claim is “mostly false”.
The problem is the metric used to establish child poverty was measuring inequality and not poverty. Read the link for details. In short, all countries with greater overall incomes and wealth also have a greater span of incomes and wealth, and thus, have less equality. This measure, however, is not a measure of poverty. Consequently, the claim that the US is #1 in childhood poverty is false.
“#1 in incomes and wealth inequality”
I thought “#1 in income and wealth inequality” would be true, but even with the added “industrialized world” restriction, this is not true in terms of the Gini coefficient measure (an economic statistical measure of inequality).
Most of the claims in this poster sound plausible and thus are effective in persuading others of the promoter’s agenda. The claims, as indicated, are either false or misleading. This poster is targeted at those who are already receptive to the message – and who not only accept it without thinking, but quickly press the “Share!” button.
Bernie Sanders had many interesting ideas, many of which sounded likeable. But like all politicians, he frequently exaggerated and made untrue claims, such as those shown here.
Text for Search Engine Indexing
Today the United States is
#1 in billionaires
#1 in corporate profits
#1 in CEO salaries
#1 in childhood poverty
and #1 in income and wealth inequality
in the industrialized world.