What Does ‘Blame Emphasis’ Reveal?

I was reading this piece from Michael Hiltzik of the L.A. Times, and I was struck by something intriguing.

The debate over the deficit is quite revealing about the speaker: What they choose to omit is every bit as important as what they emphasize.

Consider these two short paragraphs:

“As Henry Aaron of the Brookings Institution observes, the current government deficit is the result of an enormous tax cut mostly for the wealthy, of paying for two wars by credit card, of the Great Recession, and of spending to address that recession . . .

Medicare’s ills are entwined with our national system of healthcare — how it’s used and how it’s distributed. You’re not going to make a dent in the problem unless you change the underlying system.”

No single factor is responsible for the deficit — quite a few different ones helped to cause it.

When I was out promoting BN, I constantly ran into this issue. It seemed that everyone tried to use the financial crisis and market collapse as proof of their pet issue. It wasn’t a combination of things, it was _______ [Insert Pet Peeve].  If you believed these folks, the crisis was caused by Acorn, or the CRA, or Fannie Mae, the poor, regulations, Unions, going off the Gold Standard, minorities, high taxes, deficits, and of course, the Federal Reserve. The Democrats blamed the Republicans, and the Republicans blamed the Democrats.

I never could tell if it was naked opportunism or merely selective perception.

The takeaway is this that whenever you hear some pundit pontificating on some event, think about their ‘blame emphasis’. Their omissions are quite revealing about their bias.


The Crisis Was Caused by [Insert Pet Peeve Here] (January 26th, 2011)

A moral alternative for curing Medicare’s ills
Michael Hiltzik
LATimes, June 5, 2011   

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