Generating outrage.

What’s wrong with this paragraph in an editorial in The Record?

Cures for addiction are seldom pretty. And the cure for a government addicted to overspending is surely so. Drummond appears poised to prescribe massive budget cuts in most provincial ministries — some as deep as 30 per cent — over the next five years. The reins of restraint will tug sharply on health and education spending, too. While McGuinty has planned to scale back the yearly increments in health care funding to three per cent, Drummond says that’s not good enough. He’s pushing for annual increases of just 2.5 per cent, which means hospitals would have to make do with hundreds of millions of dollars less every year.

I’ve given you a hint by highlighting it. For the casual reader, The Record would like to suggest that by lowering the percentage increase in healthcare spending, the government is cutting spending by millions.

For the innumerate among us, an increase means that hospitals will still have millions more to spend – just not as many extra millions as they previously anticipated. The government is not cutting the healthcare budget by any stretch of the imagination, no matter what The Record would have you believe.

This attempt to mislead should not be confused with unbiased journalism, and I’m not the first to notice:

Increasing spending at a rate in line with economic growth and inflation is not a “cut.” A cut is a reduction, not an increase at a lower rate than hoped. Language is the first casualty of politics. The proposed restraints by Minister Flaherty are, well, sensible, so far as anything in the upside down world of socialized medicine can be described as “sensible.”

Newspapers seem to depend on the casual scan of a column, combined with a poor understanding or numbers, to arouse outrage in readers. This does nothing to contribute to the intelligent discussion that is required to solve the problems we face.

But I suppose it sells papers.

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