What's Wrong with Healthcare?

Thinking inside and outside of the healthcare box. After 41 years of family practice, what's happened to Canada's healthcare system?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Public Opinion, Is It Public Enemy # One?

You will just have to excuse me. Today I will do the unforgivable. We all have a breaking point and I have reached mine. After all, blogs can be used as therapy, right? And I need therapy. After watching the ABC presentation “The Path to 9/11”, I simply have to say something about how I feel. Yes, I know I’m a man and men aren’t supposed to be capable of expressing their feelings according to Oprah, but perhaps I’m the exception to the rule, because here I go!
I truly believe the biggest threat to law and order and good government is PUBLIC OPINION.
Just think about it. In democratic countries all levels of government get voted “in” through some type of majority and get voted “out” by the same process. The driver behind this process obviously is “public opinion”. This is our Democratic Achilles heel. The only thing that democratically elected officials and governments have to fear is public opinion. Previous prime ministers routinely used poles to decide policy (obviously Prime Minister Harper doesn’t). Jane Taber and Greg Oliver repeatedly raised the issue of decreased support in Quebec regarding the Afghan issue with questions like “But aren’t you concerned about decreased approval in Quebec. How do you expect to get a majority government? The question wasn’t “is it good policy”, or “is it good for Canada”; it was more a “you better watch out” kind of thing. Governments seem to function based on “How do we get public opinion on our side? When Jack Davis was sent to Calgary by the government in Alberta, he was to change the “perception” that we had a health care problem in Calgary, and that perception was causing public opinion to turn against the Klein government. Any type of reform involving private care in our monopolistic health care system has always been put in abeyance by special interest group’s lobbying and influencing public opinion. This one issue has to a large degree determined the governments elected over the past fifteen years.
While watching the events leading up to 9/11, it would appear that many times the Clinton administration failed to take action because they “feared how it would play out to the public and the press”. Which brings me to the second conclusion; and that is the MSNM feel they own the gun (public opinion) and can pull the trigger on public opinion any time they wish. Note the struggle between the Ottawa News Media and Steven Harper. The struggle basically is on control of public opinion. The MSNM recognizes their strength is through their ability to help form public opinion, and by doing so control and determine which party will be in power. Stephen Harper is also very aware of the power of public opinion, but wishes to determine the direction of the government and its policies on the merits of the issues, based on the information provided. Limiting the ability of the MSNM to manipulate public opinion by having orderly question periods and giving everyone a fair chance to ask question (not just the most aggressive) is simply following the first rule of confrontation: “Know your enemy”.
On a global scale, the various terrorist groups of the Middle East learned a long time ago there was only one thing that democratically elected leaders feared, and that was public opinion. And they quickly learned how to use it. Unencumbered by the usual games and frailties of political correctness, truth, negotiating in good faith, fairness, peace on earth, etc. they simply played to our sympathies and portrayed themselves as the victims, continually using our media and freedom of speech, to sway public opinion in their favor. In their country, the media has been strictly controlled, and only the messages they wished the public to hear were ever heard. They have used public opinion throughout their nations and, indeed the world as a whole, for recruitment of suicide bombers, raising money, preventing aggression from other nations, and even managed to paralyze the United Nations and the European Union (and the Canadian NDP party).
So it would seem the MSNM has it right, those who control public opinion control the most powerful weapon in a free society. With the MSNM wanting so desperately to have control of this weapon, it seems to me, crucial to know, “Are our guys with us or against us”?
Even more importantly, we must recognize that our opinion has tremendous impact on the government that we will have, and the policies that the government will bring in. We must always seek the truth, knowing that many would try to influence us to their way of thinking and their values. When the world was larger, and the MSNM did not have the slogan “It’s not the story, it’s how you tell it”, we could reasonably rely on the news media to relate factual material. Today we must always be aware of the potential spin and the desire to help formulate public opinion, and the power of that public opinion in democracies. I have often been asked on telephone surveys about matters that I know nothing about. Most often I still present an opinion on the matter. Wrong!!! I should simply say that I am not informed enough to have an opinion on the matter. Just consider how uninformed most of us are when we get out of our area of daily function, and still governments tend to develop policy based on the accumulation of that ignorance. I certainly do not endorse media or special interest censorship. Free speech is vital to a free society. But I do endorse the utterance of an informed opinion. Remember, your opinion is part of the larger opinion called “public opinion”, and that has the power to cause great nations to wring their collective hands and do nothing in the face of a threat like 9/11, not to intervene in the genocide in Dafur, or for that matter, decide the fate of the failed nation, Afghanistan. So the next time you are asked for your opinion in a pole or survey, remember, your opinion is going to help shape the policies of the free world, or not; so if you don’t know what you are talking about (which of course doesn’t include any of us), keep your opinion to your self, your family and your best friends. But do not, I repeat, DO NOT, make it part of a “PUBLIC OPINION”.
There, I feel better already.


Blogger Lanny said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

18/9/06 11:24 PM  
Blogger Lanny said...

Excellent point. I too saw the movie and there was so much fear on the politician's side of what the public opinion would be rather than thinking what the right thing would be and realizing that the public should stand behind it if it was good. Think of the lives saved.

It is good to see Harper standing up for things. I was thinking today that Harper isn't a very good politician or he would be dithering like Martin did and not committing to anything in order to keep public opinion on all sides. Although he is not a good politician because of this, he sure is a great prime minister. And, time is proving, that the public in general (aside from the radicals screaming one way or another or the mainstream media), once they inform themselves on certain matters, can see what is right. The problem, often, is getting the public to dig deeper and truly inform themselves.

The media counts on most of the public not informing themselves and forming their opinions. So, instead of informed opinions, polls are gathering knee jerk reactions on questions that are formulated and posed to get certain statistics.

18/9/06 11:27 PM  
Anonymous Tom@Blister Packaging said...

I'm glad you were able to express yourself through this blog. I definitely agree that blogs are a form of therapy, that's why I have one. Not sure I completely understand your reasoning for being so upset, but I definitely feel like there should be less power in the hands of the government or people living within the country will revolt.

23/2/12 12:17 PM  

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