How the left breeds alarm to win policy battles
The president told Americans to gird for a disaster. Sequestration would result in unspeakable suffering. The elderly would starve; kids would miss vaccinations; teachers would be laid off; airplanes would crash mid-air due to a dearth of air traffic controllers. And don’t bother calling for help—no one’s coming thanks to massive layoffs of police and firefighters.
Fast forward to today. America is still standing. The public is still waiting for the wave to hit. Now President Obama has launched a charm offensive toward the Republicans who called his alarmist bluff.
Sadly, such alarmism isn’t limited to budget debates and sequestration cuts. Today, alarmism permeates nearly every nook and cranny of our culture. Americans are told to be on high alert about everything from their common household cleaners, toys, plastic bottles and canned food, to their child’s favorite pair of sandals, garden hoses, supplies and playground equipment.
Women—particularly mothers—are the prime target for such messaging. For mothers, there’s nothing more distressing than the idea that something might harm her child. In today’s information age, mothers face a daily avalanche of information—much of it meant to terrify.
Among the great proliferators of alarmist rhetoric are so-called public health and consumer advocacy organizations. These organizations portray themselves as looking out for the little guy—a legion of Davids aiming for the Goliath of big . Yet, increasingly, these organizations rely on dubious science to spread fear and push regulations that won’t make a difference to the health of the public.
The media is more than happy to buy whatever these groups are . After all, nothing sells as well as a scary headline. The public can no longer rely on the media to perform the most basic research, or on the reporters covering these issues to simply read the studies on which they report. As a result, the public can expect a never-ending string of frightful stories containing no critical analysis. ...