Friday, October 15, 2010
My op-ed about government regulation as a "silent killer" afflicting millions of Americans now appears at Pajamas Media.
I'm not quoting from the op-ed here because I took an unorthodox, anecdotal approach with it. What I will do here is describe why I ended up doing that, because I find it intriguing as a writer.
I wrestled with this topic one night, but beyond an intro that I heavily edited later, I remained stuck with a single paragraph. (That dense, impenetrable thicket of facts eventually became the basis for the three paragraphs before the last in the article.) By the time I returned to work on it again, though, something had clicked and the words just flowed. The following, which I cut from an earlier draft, summarizes well what the problem was.
Public awareness campaigns about deadly, but hard-to-detect diseases often vie for attention with clever sound bytes, like "the silent killer." But beyond the novelty, these phrases utterly fail to convey what such a condition can mean to an individual human being. Statistics can be even worse: Data that should be a clarion call instead muffles us behind a layer of abstraction. Double for the staggering costs. Already hard to come to grips with, these figures land on overwhelmed ears.And triple for the solution, especially when the problem is cultural and political in nature like this one. I'm glad I was able to work in an approach to solving the problem at the end. On top of all that, I was baffled as to how to discuss the annoyance of appliance regulations and the destructive, cumulative effects of regulation in a single article. This approach solved that problem as well.
I'd like to thank Amit Ghate for suggesting I turn this topic into an op-ed and Paul Hsieh for his editorial feedback.