Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Emotionally Powerful, But Undefined Terms

Some of the most emotionally powerful words are undefined, such as "social justice," "a living wage," "price gouging" or a "fragile" environment, for example. Such terms are especially valuable to politicians during an election year, for these terms can attract the votes of people who mean very different-- and even mutually contradictory-- things when they use these words.

~Thomas Sowell

I'd add a few more terms like anything with the word "fair" in it, e.g. "fair trade," "fairly traded," "fair wage," "fair trade coffee," etc.

Update: In the comments, Fred adds "Level playing field," another good one.

21 Comments:

At 7/29/2008 12:20 AM, Anonymous Fred said...

"Level playing field"

 
At 7/29/2008 12:25 AM, Blogger bobble said...

how about 'free trade'?

that's not what we have now.

but that's what the politicians and economists seem to be saying we have now.

 
At 7/29/2008 6:34 AM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

bobbie, what is your point?

It is correct that what we have is not "free trade". Are you under the impression that anyone here is going to disagree with you, or something?

 
At 7/29/2008 7:15 AM, Anonymous Machiavelli999 said...

I hope people realize (and I doubt that they will), that globalization and the liberalization of trade is the only thing that is keeping us from going into a full blown recession right now.

And that the only thing that brought the economy to its knees was a quasi-socialistic financial system.

 
At 7/29/2008 7:52 AM, Anonymous Lars said...

"Fair share", as in "The rich don't pay their fair share of taxes" even though the top 5% of wage earners pay 60% of the income tax.

 
At 7/29/2008 8:16 AM, Blogger Colin said...

The need for "sustainable development." What the hell does that mean? If something isn't sustainable, it won't persist -- by definition -- and will logically go away on its own.

 
At 7/29/2008 8:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Dumping"

"Anti-worker"

 
At 7/29/2008 8:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shared prosperity

 
At 7/29/2008 9:03 AM, Blogger KauaiMark said...

"offset credits"

 
At 7/29/2008 10:12 AM, Anonymous MiddleClass said...

and lets not forget about
"The Middle-Class"

Everyone I know considers themselves "middle-class". We are not rich, but we always know somebody poorer...

 
At 7/29/2008 11:21 AM, Blogger Matt S said...

That's why smart people use their judgment in discerning what is actually fair trade/organic and the like, because there is no government definition.

However, as a rule, a living wage is the wage level that someone should be able to earn in order to keep themselves at or above the poverty line, either that or the wage that lets someone live at the poverty line while supporting a spouse or two kids.
Either way, it's the wage that is supposed to keep people above the poverty line, because in 21st century America we really shouldn't have people living in poverty.

that being said, I do happen to inspect politicians' plans when they claim to fight for a living wage. or anything else for that matter.

 
At 7/29/2008 11:23 AM, Blogger Matt S said...

colin, sustainable development refers to environmental concerns. Like whether or not the building of this house is going to require a lot of resources to build and live in or if it's going to have solar panels and be modest in size.

 
At 7/29/2008 11:25 AM, Blogger Matt S said...

and conservatives have been so innocent from these vague economic terms?
or any kind of term, really.
"clean air act"? "Healthy forest initiative"?

 
At 7/29/2008 3:26 PM, Blogger juandos said...

Well now we have some nuggets of wisdom from matt s again...

"That's why smart people use their judgment in discerning what is actually fair trade/organic and the like, because there is no government definition"...

Hmmm, are you under the impression that there should be a government definition of, 'free trade'...

Socialists I know think that way...

"However, as a rule, a living wage is the wage level that someone should be able to earn in order to keep themselves at or above the poverty line..."

Hmmm, what if that, 'someone' isn't worth even the questionably legal minimum wage? Would YOU be willing to step in and make up the difference so that this poor, downtrodden 'someone' get that so called, 'living wage'?

"sustainable development refers to environmental concerns"...

Really?!?! According to whom? What are their economic credentials?

Are you sure this phrase, "sustainable development' aren't code words for libtards wanting to raise property taxes?

"and conservatives have been so innocent from these vague economic terms?"...

Well these alledged economic terms you refer to are like fairy tales, as one gets older and garners more life experiences one tends to discount fairy tales...

 
At 7/29/2008 5:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Patriot Act"

 
At 7/30/2008 12:38 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"Patriot Act"...

O.K. anon @ 5:44 PM, do you have a better idea? If so, let's hear it...

 
At 7/30/2008 5:52 PM, OpenID sethstorm said...


"Dumping"

Flooding the market with something undesirable until inertia removes the undesirability. Used to remove choice of higher quality goods.


"Anti-worker"

A policy that can benefit a business but is hostile to the workers performing the task.


I hope people realize (and I doubt that they will), that globalization and the liberalization of trade is the only thing that is keeping us from going into a full blown recession right now.

It's due to them seeing the country being sold part and parcel. That is, a Faustian deal for yet-to-be-seen "prosperity".

As far as they care, the recession started in 2003, or as early as the late 70's. It won't stop until they see a measure that is in their favor and has substance to it.


As for emotional, undefined terms, here is one:
"Environmentalist"

 
At 7/30/2008 7:35 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"Anti-worker"...

Hmmm, someone who doesn't pander to unions or leftist politicos...

"Dumping"

Its what losers in the business world whine about...

"It's due to them seeing the country being sold part and parcel. That is, a Faustian deal for yet-to-be-seen "prosperity"."...

Hmmm, on what planet is this alledgedly happening on?

"Environmentalist"

A loser who's grasp of science is less than minimal but who's ability to whine is higher than the Reid/Pelosi standard...

 
At 7/30/2008 9:08 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

> Either way, it's the wage that is supposed to keep people above the poverty line, because in 21st century America we really shouldn't have people living in poverty.

Except, matt, that the obvious definition of "poverty" -- oh, "unable to afford adequate housing, basic food needs, basic clothing needs and basic electricity/transportation needs" is not the definition of "poverty" any more.
If you read the fine print, most statistics about "poverty" classify it in relational terms -- often "less than half the median household income" -- which clearly makes it literally impossible for everyone to get above that line, short of complete income redistribution. In other words, until everyone is making about the same amount of money (regardless of skills, effort to contribute to the social wealth, merit, or talent), someone is guaranteed to be "living in poverty"

As an aside, here is part of the federal definition(see "poverty definition") (emphasis mine):
The original poverty definition provided a range of income cutoffs or thresholds adjusted by such factors as family size, sex of the family head, number of children under 18 years old, and farm-nonfarm residence. At the core of this definition of poverty was the economy food plan, the least costly of four nutritionally adequate food plans designed by the Department of Agriculture. It was determined from the Department of Agriculture’s 1955 Household Food Consumption Survey that families of three or more people spent approximately one-third of their after-tax money income on food; accordingly, poverty thresholds for families of three or more people were set at three times the cost of the economy food plan. Different procedures were used to calculate poverty thresholds for two-person families and people living alone in order to compensate for the relatively larger fixed expenses of these smaller units. For two-person families, the cost of the economy food plan was multiplied by a factor of 3.7 (also derived from the 1955 survey). For unrelated individuals (one-person units), no multiplier was used; poverty thresholds were instead calculated as a fixed proportion of the corresponding thresholds for two-person units. Annual updates of these SSA poverty thresholds were based on price changes of the items in the economy food plan.

The relevance of the above emphasized information is that it is probably no longer even vaguely correct, but remains in the guidelines despite that.

For example, read this. If we spend less than 25% of household income on food, fuel, and drink, it's unlikely we spend 1/3rd of our income on food -- even for those at the poverty line.

Or this CD post:
But even at 10% of disposable income, spending on food would still be below any year of the 1990s, and way below any previous year or decade, and about half of the spending on food during the early 1950s when spending on food was almost 21% of disposable income.
--- No question, someone living near the poverty line has less, but the proportional costs are still going to be lower -- that the expense for food has cut by more than half is true for the impoverished, not just for those with lots of extra spending money. So the valuation of impoverished should have kept pace with that change, but has not.


There's also a graph for this CD post which is pertinent. Notice the number of hours worked to buy a bag of groceries in the 1950s vs. now.

In short, my key point is that measures of poverty no longer reflect anything resembling true poverty. They certainly identify someone who is not "well off" by any means, but if anyone near the poverty line is going hungry, it's probably because they are spending money on inappropriate items instead of food.

 
At 7/30/2008 9:20 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

> Flooding the market with something undesirable until inertia removes the undesirability. Used to remove choice of higher quality goods.

If it's undesirable, why are people buying it?

I grant you dumping is possible, it's just that the term is applied very, very loosely, and the technique can only work in a situation where costs of entry are exceedingly high.

Microsoft was certainly guilty of dumping when it used its OS to dump IE onto the market and destroy Netscape. You might note that there are still two highly viable alternatives to IE (Firefox and Opera), and if you're smart, you're using one of them.

> A policy that can benefit a business but is hostile to the workers performing the task.

This, too, can exist, but all too often is used to refer to ANY policy which does not favor worker interests, as opposed to one which is directly and needlessly hostile to worker interests.

A company wanting to lower its payroll expenses is not obligated to keep paying high wages, if it believes it can alter its workforce and still produce the same sales results. It's a business, not a charitable institution.

It is entirely up to the worker to make themselves sufficiently valuable to the company to justify whatever their wages are.

That's just an example. The term gets misused all the time by socialist idiots.

> As for emotional, undefined terms, here is one:
"Environmentalist"

Yes, but this one usually has a synonym: "Idiot".

Granted, that's also an emotional, and in-context, usually undefined term, but it's more honest.

As P.J. O'Rourke has noted, "A environmentalist is a person who will do anything for the environment except take a Science course". If that quote isn't exact, it carries the gist of it.

 
At 7/30/2008 9:42 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

> It's due to them seeing the country being sold part and parcel. That is, a Faustian deal for yet-to-be-seen "prosperity".

Oh, gimme a BREAK, you nit.

I heard the exact same idiotic whine about all the Japanese coming in here and buying up the country in the late 80s. By the late 90s, the idea had demonstrated itself as ignorant, short-sighted, and hysterical. At its peak, the Japs never owned a greater percentage of US assets than the DUTCH had for decades.

And with the phrase "yet to be seen 'prosperity'", you show such abysmal and chidish stupidity that one is torn between laughter and sadness, that you actually imagine that the conditions YOU live in -- whatever they are, in the USA -- today -- would be less than heaven for almost anyone 100 years ago, or that they would definitely be heaven for even THE RICHEST PERSON IN THE WORLD of 200 years ago.

You almost certainly have a phone which you can use almost anywhere in the USA, that fits in your pocket -- literally a Star Trek communicator

Access to more information right as you read this than you would have in ANY library just 30 years ago

A car which is probably capable of going 150k to 250k miles with minimal reasonable service (I won't go into the massive improvements there)

Central Heat and Air

Music of a quality unattainable only 15 years ago that fits into a device the size of your thumb

A TV the size of your entire arm with anywhere from 15 to 500 channels

Access to the best damned healthcare system in the world, BY FAR, and, if there are procedures you can't afford, well, you have at least the chance of getting charity to pay for it.

Just walk into any Wal-Mart, Target, Sam's Club, or Price/Costco and look around at the vast riches available to you on a mere whim in many cases, with a little work in ALL cases.

Now consider Soviet citizens standing in line for hours waiting to buy a few rolls of industrial grade toilet paper.


-----In summary-----

By the standards of virtually EVERY society in HUMAN HISTORY, you are rich, fat, ignorant, stupid, and so utterly lacking in any rational measure of common sense as to be pitiful.

You *should* have sense enough to recognize the sheer, unimaginable vastness of your ignornace, and just STFU.

Like all humans, you have a right to an opinion, and to express it, but you ought to figure out that it's worth less than the effluent from a sewage treatment plant, and to withhold such expression until such time as you can find some way, some how, to add substantial value to it.

 

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