Don't let names fool you. Decide on facts, not on names.|
Perhaps you've noticed an insidious pattern:
Time is called "Daylight Savings Time." Maybe that's because the
resulting carnage on the highways reduces congestion and therefore
saves commuters time. So it's "Savings" time even though it wastes
billions of dollars a year and squanders an hour of morning
Scam is called "Internal Revenue Service." Because these people
spend all of their waking hours acting out their childhood fantasies
of getting back at other kids and screwing people, they are
"servicing" the public the same way a stud horse "services" a mare.
Package is called "Economic Stimulus Plan" because it stimulates
more business closings, mortgage defaults, layoffs, and other
Family Disintegration is called "Health and Human Services." Have a
father in the home? Better make him pack a bag....
And, of course, we
all know about "military intelligence" and other oxymorons that disguise
what morons are doing with our tax dollars.
A few federal
programs and agencies aren't misnamed. But if you look at those agencies and
programs, they actually fit within the proper role of the government (e.g.,
State Department) and/or provide a valuable resource (e.g., Amtrak). And
then, of course, there's CONgress, which is the opposite of PROgress. No
name problem, there.
The misnaming pattern
emerges when someone is trying to persuade others to accept something that
can't stand on its own merits. But sometimes they don't bother, as in the
case of CONgress.
Let's look more
closely at Amtrak. Many well-meaning people (including our fine friends at
the National Taxpayers Union) criticize Amtrak because it doesn't make a
profit. They are not looking at the complete financial picture. The auto
industry is subsidized to a far greater extent than Amtrak has ever been
(Who pays for your roads? Not the automakers). On a level playing field,
Amtrak financially outperforms the automobile by no small measure.
Amtrak is a great
value. Notice, Amtrak doesn't have some glitzy name, like "Department of
Transportation Efficiency." Yet, it's a very efficient means of
transportation. In fact, because it can stand on its merits it doesn't get a
glitzy name. There is no reason to lie to the public to try to sell Amtrak,
because its merits make the case for it.
Misnaming things as
way of getting people to not subject them to actual evaluation is necessary,
however, when those things enter the realm of gross stupidity, moral
turpitude, or some combination thereof.
If you're trying to
convince people that pulling vast amounts of capital out of the economy
during a recession (or at any other time) will somehow strengthen the
economy, the obvious contradiction with reality here requires you to give it
a name that implies the opposite of the only possible outcome. So, you call
it a stimulus.
Sometimes, a name is
innocuous. Take "Sarbanes-Oxley," for example. This very costly legislation
has accomplished exactly zero in terms of preventing corporate malfeasance
(can you say, "AIG?"), but it has a staggering effect on the economy. Anyone
wanting to actually stimulate the economy would immediately repeal this bad
legislation. This bad legislation is so bad that even the idiots who voted
for it could see it wouldn't work. So they didn't even try to put lipstick
on this particular pig.
Sometimes, a somewhat glitzy name is entirely
accurate. For example, the Fair Tax (which is misrepresented by the
mudstream media, all of whose objections are patently false).
Can you think of a simple rule to help you prevent
shutting off your brain when a name seems appealing? How about this? Don't
judge a book by its cover.