Friday, April 23, 2010

A headline in this morning's NYT illustrates the power of words to frame an issue.  The article, stimulated by the recent mining deaths in West Virginia, was entitled "2 Mines show how safety practices vary widely in US."  "Safety practices" -- isn't it good that mines have these things to protect the miners?  Hmmmm.  But they "vary"?  Well it sure sounds like a technical issue that these companies have to keep track of as they keep their workers safe.

Now imagine instead a headline like, "Some mining companies are more willing than others to gamble with workers' lives for higher profits."

It's exactly the same topic -- the reality that worker lives are put at risk for company profits; some companies are more careful than others with the lives and health of their workers; and the profit-motive often gives them an incentive to take chances with their workers' lives.

But that sure sounds like more of a problem than variance in safety practices.  It almost sounds life and death.