Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A Little Bit Here, A Little Bit There

Leftist bias in the media has a way of being both brazen and subtle all at the same time. Don't believe me? Have a look at this cool article about the various presidential (isn't that election over a year away???) candidates' positions on healthcare. By which, of course, I mean Hillary Clinton's and Mitt Romney's positions on healthcare.
Like all good sucker punches, this one puts you at ease before it strikes:

"Individual mandate" is the jargon politicians use to describe health care plans that assume every citizen will enroll in health insurance, often with subsidies and under threat of penalty.

Alright, so far so good. Sounds like we're cutting through the fog and not letting politicians get away with oily-tongued phrasing, eh? Except...

As governor of Massachusetts, Romney pushed a plan that requires state residents to get health insurance or face tax penalties. The law includes a new bureaucracy to implement it, government subsidies for the poor and guidelines for health insurance companies.

The effort broke new ground by sharing responsibility between government, business and individuals.[Emphasis added]

What kind of New Age, Orwellian, psychedelic desert buffet is this, then? Since when is requiring someone to do something under threat of penalty "sharing responsibility?" This is the same kind of tripped-out thinking that allows the Dems to style themselves as the "good guys" because they're "helping people." Never mind that they themselves don't put up the money they spend to "help people," preferring instead to take it from other, more productive citizens. They're still the "caring" folks, as opposed to the people who actually create the wealth they use (i.e. make it possible to fund their pet programs in the first place), who are "greedy" or "selfish" or whatever. But see, if you smoke what this reporter is smoking, then actually people who prefer to pay their taxes rather than go to prison so that politicians can, say, build some houses for people who can't be bothered to work, are "sharing responsibility" for ... well, whatever, details details. Isn't that nice?

But here's where it gets really good:

As a presidential candidate, Romney opposes a national individual mandate. Balancing his belief in personal responsibility against his support of states rights, Romney came down on the side of federalism.

I mean, what do you even do with something like this? "Balancing his belief in personal responsibility against his support of states[sic] rights..." That's rich, that is. I'm not sure which is scarier - the idea that reporters engage in this kind of crass manipulation, or the idea that this particular reporter actually thinks of "personal responsibility" in this way.

Listen up, nimblenuts - "personal responsibility" is not never, ever, and in no way, and never has been used to describe the situation where someone agrees to accept a handout. Nor is it generally used to describe the situation where someone agrees to do something under duress. I mean, it's as if we're saying that a person with a gun to his head "does the responsible thing" by handing over his wallet in a mugging. OK, in some extreme sense of the term, I suppose he does, if you accept (as, granted, most people do) that people are responsible, within reason, for preserving their lives. But if we're honest, this is an abuse of the term "responsible." "Responsibility" doesn't enter into this situation at all - it's just someone following their survival instinct, really. Likewise, agreeing to enroll in a healthcare plan because someone will fine you if you don't is a pocketbook motive, not "responsibility." It's sort of like when you go to McDonald's, and they tell you that for $0.30 more you can make everything twice as big as it was before, and you do it not because you're a fatass slob who can actually put away all that coke and fries, but because, what the hell, it's only $0.30, and you resent being charged only $0.30 less for a fraction of the food. THAT's the deal Romney's offering. It isn't a matter of "responsibility" at all.

Later on, we get this:

Thirteen years after her singular leadership position ended in failure, Clinton proposed a $110 billion a year program that builds on the existing employer-based system of coverage.

The new plan requires citizens to get insurance as part of a "shared responsibility," but that claim rings hollow until the Clinton campaign says whether the mandate would be backed up by penalties.

So see, it's even worse than we thought. This moron of a reporter actually thinks that the normal definition of responsibility isn't responsibility at all. People don't get responsible until the government makes them by fining them for ... refusing to take responsibility. So you're not even responsible for being responsible, really - that's all on Hillary.

I think the best description of this kind of thinking is indeed that of Sir Keith Joseph, who lamented it as leading to a "pocket money society". You know, where Big Brother provides you with all you need to survive, and you simply keep (what's left of) what you earn to spend on "fun things." It's responsibility in the grade school sense: you do your chores and keep up with your homework, and Mommy and Daddy see that you have play money. So yes, alright, this kind of healthcare system "shares responsibility" if it's kids we're talking about. But surely this isn't an appropriate way to talk about adults?

The stunner for me, honestly, is that these are the reporter's words. I mean, we're used to politicians spinning their pet programs with glittering generalities like "responsible" and "freedom" (even when they're talking about forced enrollment in a healthcare plan as "responsibility" and suspension of habeas corpus as "freedom"). But it's the reporter doing this. Work for the Ministry of Truth much, buddy?

Is it so much to ask that reporters simply, you know, report? That they use language in the way that we're all accustomed to hearing it, and not choose sneaky trojan horse words that seek to infect their readers with a particular ideology?

I mean, don't get me wrong - writing an article completely without bias is probably impossible. Given limited column space, and given that reporters, like all human beings, are bound to view the world, at least to some extent, through their own ideological lenses, you'll never get an article about politics that's completely without bias. Hell, I'm not sure I would know what a "completely unbiased" view of an issue would even be. But allowing for that, surely this particular indulgence is excessive? Which is to say, even if this reporter honestly believes in a "pocket money" society as a shining paragon of civilized behavior, it is implausible in the extreme that he is unaware that most people don't use the word "responsibility" in the way he is using it here.

No, this can be nothing other than crass manipulation. Fortunately, I don't share his obviously dismal opinion of the general public. I think a lot of people will read this and see it for what it is: yet another example of subtle(?) liberal bias in the mainstream media, and further evidence of just how low an opinion the average leftist actually has of "the people" - whose interests he purports to represent - and their ability to think for themselves.


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