Thursday, February 6, 2014

Antiseptic terms for egregious acts

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."  -- Arthur C. Clarke

We call ours a scientific age, though it has not been the only one. We like to pat ourselves on the back for not believing in magic. Yet we do. Rather, we don't even know that it is magic. It is 'progress' or 'reform', whose arcana is best left to the experts who surely must be doing it for us, not them.

They 'like' us. It's for the people, after all.

Keith Weiner notes (italics mine) that
The government offers antiseptic terms for egregious acts. For example, they use the pseudo-academic term “quantitative easing” to refer to the dishonest practice of monetizing the debt. Similarly, they use the dry euphemism “maturity transformation” to refer to borrowing short to lend long, i.e. duration mismatch. Perhaps the term “transmogrification” would be more appropriate, as this is nothing short of magic.
In Rising Rates Spoil The Party, he writes (italics mine) that
It is a strange politically correct world that makes it a taboo to say the simple truth. Unfortunately, freedom of speech in America is slipping—at least on controversial topics that matter. It may still be legal, but there is a very real chilling effect. In a crony system, one’s career is at risk to say the unpopular. So the gentlemen in the club safely confine their discussion to the M1 and M2 measures of the money supply, and the number of angels that can dance on the head of one pin.
On this first part, I recall Bush crony -- er, spokesman -- Ari Fleischer, reminding "all Americans that they need to watch what they say, watch what they do." (Does anyone really believe Bush got into Yale because he wasn't a legacy?).

As always, Orwell's Politics and the English Language is worthwhile.
Most people who bother with the matter at all would admit that the English language is in a bad way, but it is generally assumed that we cannot by conscious action do anything about it. Our civilization is decadent, and our language — so the argument runs — must inevitably share in the general collapse. It follows that any struggle against the abuse of language is a sentimental archaism, like preferring candles to electric light or hansom cabs to aeroplanes. Underneath this lies the half-conscious belief that language is a natural growth and not an instrument which we shape for our own purposes.
Now, it is clear that the decline of a language must ultimately have political and economic causes: it is not due simply to the bad influence of this or that individual writer.[...]