25 July 2013

Don't Call it That

I like language.  I'm not an expert, rather a hobbyist.  I like to play with words in order to convey meaning, tone, emotion and I enjoy writers who do well what I attempt futilely.

I like the utility of words and appreciate the development of contemporary communication, save the text lingo and obsessiveness with acronyms, but that is a fight for another day.

But sometimes, I find, that we don't have words to describe certain things or events.  Neologisms come and go, but it's weird to stumble upon needing a word to describe a thing or event that has been around since civilization dawned.

Take, for instance, when the military in Egypt overthrew the popularly elected government of Mohammed Morsi and suspended the constitution a few weeks ago.  I could have sworn that there was a phrase that we had, of French origin, that described perfectly what that is ("overthrow" is too prosaic).  I scanned wikipedia, I flipped through dusty old books, I meandered through the local library and I couldn't find the words that I was certain existed.

Someone foolishly suggested that the words I was looking for were "coup d'etat," the definition of which is (from dictionary.com):

a sudden and decisive action in politicsespecially one resulting in a change of government illegally or by force.

But that can't be it, because the United State Department of State says unequivocally that what happened in Egypt is not a coup d'etat.  Because if it was, according to the law that authorizes the disbursement of financial and military aid to Egypt if the military overthrows the government, then the more than $1.2 billion dollars that our government takes from current and future taxpayers and sends to Egypt each year would automatically be cut.

So my search continues to find out what to call what happened in Egypt.  Any help would be appreciated.

Head Slap Special

President Obama is "pivoting" again, trying to bring attention to the economy.  Which might night be such a hot idea because, in this arena, he's an idiot.

And I don't say that because he's a socialist who like to "spread around" other people's wealth, though that does not help his score here.  I say that because he doesn't know how markets work.  And if you don't know how markets work, you shouldn't try to focus attention on the fact that markets aren't working very well and that the reason they aren't working as well as they ought is directly related to policies promulgated by like-minded intellectual pygmies.

The best part is that he thinks his speeches will help his cause, and if his cause is helped, more of the policies he supports will be put in place and then the economy will perform better.  Let's never mind that this is the heighth of hubris that Hayek addresses in the quote cited on the banner, but just mind that liberal policies are the worst thing you can do to an economy.

But if we put aside the trade-off between the costs versus benefits of wealth-transfer schemes, avoid the discussion of whether the distribution of income is even a concern of the federal government and shy away from rhetoric such as (from the president's speech yesterday at Knox College, emphasis added):

"In the period after World War II, a growing middle class was the engine of our prosperity.  Whether you owned a company, or swept its floors, or worked anywhere in between, this country offered you a basic bargain -- a sense that your hard work would be rewarded with fair wages and decent benefits, the chance to buy a home, to save for retirement, and most of all, a chance to hand down a better life for your kids.

But over time, that engine began to stall -- and a lot of folks here saw it -- that bargain began to fray.  Technology made some jobs obsolete.  Global competition sent a lot of jobs overseas.  It became harder for unions to fight for the middle class.  Washington doled out bigger tax cuts to the very wealthy and smaller minimum wage increases for the working poor."***


"So in many ways, the trends that I spoke about here in 2005 -- eight years ago -- the trend of a winner-take-all economy where a few are doing better and better and better, while everybody else just treads water -- those trends have been made worse by the recession.  And that's a problem.

This growing inequality not just of result, inequality of opportunity -- this growing inequality is not just morally wrong, it’s bad economics.  Because when middle-class families have less to spend, guess what, businesses have fewer consumers.  When wealth concentrates at the very top, it can inflate unstable bubbles that threaten the economy.  When the rungs on the ladder of opportunity grow farther and farther apart, it undermines the very essence of America -- that idea that if you work hard you can make it here."

You can look at actual facts, like:

Yes, the president and his supporters are correct.  The middle class is shrinking.  More people are becoming wealthy and slightly fewer people are as poor as they were.  But why let facts get in the way of dulcet, but fatuous, rhetoric.

***Please see here for a partial antidote to this paragraph.  There is so much wrong in his speech and this paragraph is the lodestar for its sophistry.