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20130518 The Language matters

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Sometimes, actually quite often the simple substitution of words in a text with different and more exact meaning of these words makes very clear underlying understanding or misunderstanding of the text by both author and audience.

I would like to offer such an example. We hear all the time from Democratic Party about greatness and benevolence of the government and from Republican Party about inefficiency and sometime even malevolence of the government. It seems to me that both sides would be much clearer if they would use instead of the word “government” two words that designate human beings who really are the government – bureaucrats and politicians. Here is the small piece of Obama’s commencement speech where such substitution is done with resulting wonderful clarification:

“And that’s precisely what the founders left us: the power to adapt to changing times. They left us the keys to a system of self-SERVING BUREAUCRATS AND POLITICIANS—the tool to do big and important things together that we could not possibly do alone. To stretch railroads and electricity and a highway system across a sprawling continent. To educate our people with a system of public schools and land grant colleges, including Ohio State. To care for the sick and the vulnerable, and provide a basic level of protection from falling into abject poverty in the wealthiest nation on Earth. To conquer fascism and disease; to visit the Moon and Mars; to gradually secure our God-given rights for all our citizens, regardless of who they are, what they look like, or who they love.
We, the BUREAUCRATS AND POLITICIANS, chose to do these things together. Because we know this country cannot accomplish great things if we pursue nothing greater than our own individual ambition.
Still, you’ll hear voices that incessantly warn of BUREAUCRATS AND POLITICIANS as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s the root of all our problems, even as they do their best to gum up the works; or that tyranny always lurks just around the corner. You should reject these voices. Because what they suggest is that our brave, creative, unique experiment in self-rule is just a sham with which we can’t be trusted.
We have never been a people who place all our faith in BUREAUCRATS AND POLITICIANS to solve our problems, nor do we want it to. But we don’t think the BUREAUCRATS AND POLITICIANS is the source of all our problems, either. Because we understand that this democracy is ours. As citizens, we understand that America is not about what can be done for us. It’s about what can be done by us, together, through the hard and frustrating but absolutely necessary work of self-SERVING BUREAUCRATS AND POLITICIANS.”

Now the unshakable believe of Barak Obama in ability of bureaucrats and politicians “To stretch railroads and electricity and a highway system across a sprawling continent. …To care for the sick and the vulnerable, and provide a basic level of protection from falling into abject poverty in the wealthiest nation on Earth” sounds absolutely ridiculously and clearly contradictory to any known fact about American history. Add to this a self-evident fact that Barak Obama loves bureaucrats and politician most when he is the top dog in this pack and true nature this man and his party could not be missed.


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