Friday, June 24, 2011

Basic Musings--Austerity, Presumptive Old Farts

Ahhh, the things you hear on NPR. It’s been my favorite radio station for a number of years. Our local affiliate here in San Diego recently changed some of its programming so that it’s all talk and news now (translate that to mean no more classical music after 8 p.m.). That means that I can listen to news at night when I’m driving home after 9. I live 11 miles from work and it takes me about 20 minutes to make the drive.

So this last weekend I heard a term a couple of times that got me to thinking. It was during BBC news broadcasts—whichever always seem to be much more civilized than our news but perhaps its in the presentation, you know little inflection but filled with the educated British accent that lends more credence to the reports.

The story each time dealt with demonstrations in Greece concerning that governments fiscal crisis and the reactions of Greek citizens to new proposals for an “austerity budget”. There it is. Austerity. I got thinking about that word. Is that word simply the term of the “news reader”? Or is it some sort of official or quasi-official codeword. Or is it a euphemism for “belt-tightening”? Whatever it is, it sounds much more appropriate in its description of what type of budget needs to be assembled for government to weather the fiscal crisis that it currently faces.

Austerity. How come no one in America ever uses that word? Austerity. Merriam Webster defines it as simple or unadorned. Think about it. American politicians complain about “tax and spend” or about cutting this or cutting that. They talk about increasing taxes or decreasing taxes. But I like that word austerity. It implies that we’ve got to take a good hard look at just what government needs to be doing and needs to be spending money on—and cutting it to the bone. Austerity. Sounds to me like something that is needed at the Federal level, State level and local level. But, then again, that just makes to much sense doesn’t it.

And here’s another word: Presumptive. As in, Mitt Romney is the “presumptive front runner" among GOP Presidential candidates. Huh? The story on NPR talked about how Romney had just announced and was showing up well in the polls. And it said that he is the “presumptive front runner” until the next round of polls come out (presumably to anoint him the front runner). What a stupid, contrived term. He is or he isn’t. It’s been measured or it hasn’t. So, I guess that’s consistent with Merriam Webster which defines presume as “to suppose to be true without proof”. Hell, that’s most of what goes on in politics in this or any other country, isn’t it?

And then last but not least on my commute home was a fairly new full size Dodge Ram pick-up this last week which cut me off without benefit of using its turn signal in order to do a ramp dive to the exit I was taking. I did a mental “Grrrr” at the inconsiderate driver. Pulling up next to him, I noticed a gray-haired guy driving the truck, oblivious to what he had just pulled off. And I thought, “that old fart”. And then I had another quick thought—“damn, I’m an old fart too.”

Just some observations today.

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