Friday, June 03, 2011

Are buzz words fuzz words?

Buzz words!  Sometimes they can capture a powerful thought in a phrase.  Too many other times, they complicate a simple thought or they obscure a complex thought.

An example of complication is using an "-ize" verb when simpler more direct forms are more appropriate.  Prioritize and conceptualize are a couple of these.

Politics is where buzz words obscure more complex and nuanced thought - fair share, live within means, compromise, job creation, exporting jobs, business-friendly government.  Let's examine some of these.

Fair share - this seems to be a mantra of Democrats meaning the wealthy should pay more taxes.  End of discussion.  But what is fair share?  Is it the total amount of taxes they should pay, is it a greater percentage than they pay now?  I have yet to see a clear definition or justification.

Whatever the definition, some of us cannot pay a "fair share" for the public goods we use.  That is one of the reasons for public education.  Consider that where parents must pay for their children's education, literacy is far less than where there is free public education.  And a whole host of private and public problems accompany illiteracy.

On the other hand, the higher the level of education for everybody, the more wealth is generated.  The CEO of an innovative corporation cannot become wealthy without a large pool of creative people.  What is a "fair share" of taxes for this CEO who benefits so much from the public good of free public education and subsidized state universities?

Compromise - this used to mean negotiation to reach an agreement that would be acceptable to most of those involved.  Now it means taking a very rigid position and expecting the opposition to give up anything that does not conform to that position.

Job creation - almost no public policy can be proposed unless it is going to create jobs.  Sometimes it seems the proponents are willing to spend one million dollars for each job that will supposedly pay $50,000 for ten years.  Conversely, others are willing to forgo one million dollars in taxes to create one job that will pay $30,000 for eight years.

Exporting jobs - this has been going on for a very long time.  English textile mills "took" jobs from Indian weavers.  Cheap power in New England (and stolen plans) took jobs from English textile workers.  Cheaper power from TVA (and cheaper labor) took jobs from New England textile workers.

Sometimes the criticism of exporting jobs is way off the mark.  For some corporations, it is ridiculous to use only U. S. labor around the world.  Wal-Mart is not going to move U. S. citizens to China to staff its stores.  Fed-Ex is not going to move U. S. drivers to India to deliver packages.  Yet, some critics look at the world-wide employment of large corporations, look at the proportion of U. S. workers, and assume that each of those jobs was "exported".

I would say that anyone who uses simple terms to describe complex situations is incapable of dealing with those complex situations.