Commentary: Economic Words

Feb 07, 2023 at 09:39 am by WGNS

It used to be only the State Department and the Department of Defense tried to keep us confused and confounded with the words they used. You know how it went: countries had "talks" so they "wouldn't have to "negotiate" with each other. And forecasts aren’t “reduced” any more. They are “adjusted.”

Of course, none of this would be a problem if the nation's news organizations didn't promote that stuff by using it in print and on the air.  By refusing to ask government representatives for clarification, or by refusing to be swayed by big words and nonsense constructions, reporters are just as guilty as those who perpetrate such language. But now this kind of nonsensical use of language is being used by economists on both the right and the left, and then by reporters who cover the economists.

Now, instead of taxes, we have "revenue enhancements." I really don't think this kind of thing is going to do anything to enhance my revenue, but it has a nice ring to it. And then there is the "meaningful downturn" government bureaucrats talk about. What they were really saying was the country was in a "recession," but for some reason that word just couldn't cross their lips.
In fact, government economists recently redefined the numbers it takes to be in a recession. But that’s like doubling the numbers used to define high blood pressure so you could claim hypertension is no longer a problem. Of course, reporters who heard these statement could have asked for some clarification. Someone could have asked, for example, "What's the difference between a 'recession' and a "recessionary kind of period," but apparently none did.

I guess it would be nice if the use of such language really made a difference. It may make government officials think they are evading the issues, and reporters may think they are really imparting information, when in fact they aren't. And here with the people, with the paycheck and with the pocketbook, where it really counts, such words make no difference at all.

I'm Larry Burriss.

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