Friday, November 30, 2012

Insurance is a Professional Whipping Boy

When  engaged in the health care debate, it is extremely important to remember that insurance is a professional whipping boy.

A whipping boy is a person that one pays to take the abuse for their misconduct.

The whipping boy is related to the professional straw man. We see professional straw men on TV all the time. Fox News hires ugly creatures Alan Colmes and Bob Beckel, then heap abuse on them. Professional pundits often actively seek abuse because it gets their precious brand in front of the public. Rush always gets a huge surge when his radio show is the focus of controversy.

I was looking at a site by a Wendell Potter who made a tonne of dough in PR for the insurance industry.

He now heaps abuse on insurance and gained even more money and more influence in his new role as watchdog, regulator and pundit.

PR (Public Relations) is a game in which professionals spin arguments to gain influence and achieve a variety of political objectives.

PR tends to have a negative effect on discourse, because the people "playing the PR game" are playing the discourse and not genuinely involved in the discourse.

Wendell Potter's associations page says he is  proud member of both the Public Relations Society of America and Society of Professional Journalists while being a contributor to the Huffington Post ... a rag dedicated to spinning the news.

He attacks the PR of insurance while proudly maintaining the role of PR specialist. This type of thing makes bells ring in my skeptical heart.

The fact that someone is heaping abuse on insurance does not necessarily mean the person is genuinely pro-reform. A PR specialist who whips a professional whipping boy might actually just be gaming the system from a fun new angle.

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