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My Raise Was Eaten By My New Tax Bracket & Other Misconceptions

Animated videos clarify hard-to-understand government issues and programs

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Will going up a tax bracket lower my income? Will Social Security be there when I need it? Will the Affordable Care Act result in higher insurance premiums? These and other questions are answered in a series of short animated videos created by a Northwestern University professor with help from some of his students.

Eric Patrick, associate professor in the School of Communication and former animator of Nickelodeon’s “Blue’s Clues,” developed “Citizen Primer” to counter common misconceptions about national issues and programs. Its animated videos tackle six subjects -- the progressive tax code, Social Security, Medicare, the deficit/debt, securities regulation and the Affordable Care Act.  

“The videos aim to provide clear, bite-sized pieces of information that in a fun format demystify often misunderstood government programs and issues,” Patrick says.

The first of the series -- about the progressive tax code -- was released early this week on YouTube. The others will be released over the next five weeks on YouTube on the Citizen Primer channel.

Citizen Primer is geared to a broad audience and particularly to young voters. Distributed through YouTube, the videos aim to explain government programs and political issues that have a real impact on citizens’ lives.

“There’s just a lot of misinformation out there,” says Patrick. “We want to help people make rational, informed voting decisions and more easily discern fact from fiction or partisan arguments.” He hopes to expand the series, covering topics from vaccinations to pseudoscience.

Tim Forrest, an award-winning radio producer who has worked at National Public Radio, provides the voice narration. Spanish musician and independent film sound designer Xabier Erkizia did sound design.

Citizen Primer relied on a small crew of Northwestern undergraduate students who helped with research, script writing, animation and marketing. In addition to the Chicago Digital Media Fund, it was partially funded by several Northwestern University grants.

For more information about Citizen Primer, contact Jordan Scherer or Eric Patrick.

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