Writers, story-tellers, song-writers, and artists are among those who are asked this question, and often they have no more clue than anyone else. “What made me think of that?” one might muse. Is the creative mind simply more open, more receptive, to its own emerging phantasms? Where do our dreams come from—and where they go when we wake?
The best public relations is invisible. While it’s easy to spot advertising—the stuff that blatantly urges you to go buy something—PR subtly convinces you to change the way you think. Advertising urges you to do something now; PR is patient. Advertisers pay for the time and space devoted to their messages. Good PR usually gets free media space because it is presented as unbiased information.
- Wendell Potter, Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR Is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans (Bloomsbury Press, 2010)
Looking back, he said that had he known the dangers of tobacco, he would not have accepted the American Tobacco account. “No reputable public relations organization would today accept a cigarette account since their cancer-causing effects have been proven,” he wrote in 1986. Also late in life, Bernays appealed to the PRSA [Public Relations Society of America] to police its ranks, arguing that circumstances allowed unethical behavior without any sanctions, legal or otherwise. “There are no standards,” he said.
The best example of the industry’s secrecy is the medical-loss ratio, which, as I mentioned previously, is the measurement of the share of premium spent on actual health care. The trend since Clinton’s plan failed has been unmistakable. In 1993, the leading insurers used about 95 percent of premium dollars on medical benefits, according to the consulting firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers. The merger wave and the new philosophy about health insurance pushed MLRs down sharply, so that by 2007 the number was 81 percent. By contrast, Medicare has consistently had a ratio greater than 97 percent since 1993.
If the [insurance] industry had chosen to raise premiums at the exact pace that it increased spending on health care from 2000 to 2008, insurers would still have made substantial profits without pushing millions of people to go without health benefits. But during those years, insurers raised family premiums 2.5 times faster than the rate of medical inflation, 3.3 times faster than that of wages, and 4.6 times faster than that of general inflation.
...I believe that unless we do fight back—and with urgency—the twenty-first century will be dominated by the retrenchment of democracy and the unbridled growth of corporate power, enabled by increasingly unchallenged propaganda.