How American Public Discourse Is Manipulated Through Fear & Ignorance
The current debate about national health care is the most recent example of how savvy special interest groups will leverage base human emotions to sway public opinion, as opposed to engaging in honest, rational discussion. This tactic is as old as human life on this planet, hearkening back to parents warning children of the Bogeyman hiding under the bed.
That the tactic continues to be used in the twentyfirst century is indicative of how malleable of a consuming public has been “bred” in this time of constant bombardment via media channels. Rather than promoting the virtues of education, intellectual challenge or human achievement in any realm other than celebrity or conspicuous consumption, contemporary Americans are being trained, or better yet, tamed to respond to shallow images delivered via multimedia, as much as Pavlov once conditioned dogs to respond to short stimuli.
In the 400 odd years since Europeans first began to colonize the North American continent, we have gone from an era where the only media were drawings and printed texts to an era of almost instantaneous electronic distribution, short intellectual shelf life, and almost instantaneous oblivion (making room for the next immediate blast of thrown together “data”) . Where an idea or an opinion took time to be generated and passed from person to person. Where newspapers or handbills had to be printed and then distributed, from hand to hand, in which there was time for recipients to truly contemplate the information before receiving other or contrary information. In which citizens would gather round the pot bellied stove, or on the front porch, or in townhalls where the participatants were truly townspeople, who knew and lived with each other from day to day and could engage in healthy, honest, respectful discourse. We have “progressed” to an era in which the entire process has been sped up, shaped by deep pocketed special interests, truncated, and fed as pablum to a public that is short on attention span but eager for continuous, instantaneous self-gratification. We have bred a species that not only wants to live on “Easy Street”, it doesn’t want to have to do any work to get there, be it labor or intellectual exercise.
So when issues of significance, that can impact all or much of the American constituency do come up, many of those potentially impacted have not been paying enough attention before the issues became too critical to ignore, and are still too lazy, when the issues have come to a head, to do a little extra homework to actually understand all aspects of a given issue, to be aware of real, honest facts and rational arguments, pro or con for the given issue. It’s much easier to tune in one of the many bloviators on television or radio, or read or view any one of literally millions of “facts” and opinions flying around as articles, blog postings, videos, etc. on an Internet where cost and time to distribution is almost non-existent.
Couple the relative ease of distributing any information, idea, or propaganda, whether truthful and factual or not with a constituency that feels marginalized, whether right wing Christian fundamentalists, out-of-work blue collar laborers, or war casualty veterans, and base the premise of the message on that which the constituents fear, regardless if there is any logical connection between that fear and the actual issue, and an adept propaganda operative can make his target audience believe any lie.
This is why it is important for all of us, no matter which side of an argument we are on, to be skeptical of things we hear, to do our own homework, to take some time to educate ourselves about the major issues facing us so that we do not succumb to ignorance or out and out lies such as:
The editorial board of Investors Business Daily in asserting, incorrectly, in their opposition to the health care proposal that:
People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn’t have a chance in the U.K., where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless.
Apparently IBD doesn’t believe in homework or fact checking, Stephen Hawking is British, the National Health Service is exactly what has sustained his life.
The falacy that the Public Option health insurance plan would be worse for the American public than no affordable private insurance is debunked by the fact that the United States Congress already has their own “government health insurance plan” , it is called the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. It seems to work just fine.
The lie that the health care bill being considered by Congress would make private health insurance illegal is debunked here. As are the lies about free health care for illegal immigrants, public money being used to fund abortions or that the government will have direct, real time access to our bank accounts.
Whether the debate is on health care, or war in Iraq. We would all be prudent to consider who the real instigators for or against an issue are and what their motives might be. In the realm of health care, it is apparent that the private insurance industry, (the health care financiers), the AMA and the health care industrial complex (hospitals, diagnostic labs, medical device manufacturers, pharmaceutical manufacturers, etc.) and their powerful lobbies are the forces behind the push on Congress and on the American people to suppress any new health care policy. They simply don’t want to disturb the goose that lays their golden eggs.
I am not advocating for or against the current health care initiative before Congress, I am only suggesting that we all need to take our time, and perform our own Due Diligence, and then express our opinions to our government representatives. We do need to extend health care to most, if not all of our population, and the present, private model does not extend that care nor does it even assure that the care being given is the best available.
Mark Fiore best sums up the current national fear and ignorance “debate” on health care: