Through the Looking Glass

During the debate over the budget deal to avert the so-called fiscal cliff, Republicans suggested changing the calculation for adjusting social security for inflation. (An idea I support, but which is no the subject of this post.) In response, Democratic Senator, and Majority Leader, Harry Reid of Nevada said “we’re not going to talk about cutting social security.”

 This is not an uncommon tactic, to suggest that slowing the rate of growth of a program is actually a “cut.” Now in one way it may be a cut. If, for example, there is a scheduled 10% increase in a program, and a decision is made to reduce the rate of growth to 5%, there is a cut in the rate of growth. But that isn’t the same thing is a cut.

 Here’s an example that most people might be able to understand. Lets say you make $36,0000 a year (or $3000 a month). If your boss comes to you and says that next year your pay will be $35,000, that is a cut. If your boss comes to you and says that your pay will not increase at all, that is not a cut, its just not a raise. If, on the other hand, you are scheduled to get a raise, of, lets say 10% (you had a great year, and darn it, you deserve it), your pay will go up to $39,600. If your boss says that things didn’t work out, and you will only get a raise to $38,000, that is a cut in a promised raise. But if your boss says that business was good, and he might raise your pay 10%, but then it turns out that things did not work out quite as well, and he can only give you a 5% raise, that is a lower raise, but it’s still a raise.

 But what if your  boss says he will raise your pay based on the change in the CPI, the consumer price index, which is one of the government’s indices for calculating inflation. But then he decides that his business did not grow at the rate of inflation as calculate by the CPI, so he will raise your pay based on a different economic calculation of inflation? Is that a pay cut? Not in the real world. It may be a smaller raise than you were expecting, and you may complain bitterly, but it sure isn’t a pay cut.

 Except in Washington. In Washington a lower increase is a cut. And that is one of the problems with Washington. Words have essentially lost all meaning. We have gone through the looking glass into a world where words have lost all meaning. If a slower increase is a cut then what is a real cut?

 If we can’t discuss the problems with face in a fixed language, in a language where words stand for their ordinary meaning, how can we truly understand what the problems are? We can’t. It’s all mush and spin. It’s all a bunch of mealy mouthed nonsense. 

Author: Mike

I am a patent attorney in Lexington, Kentucky. My law firm web site is http://www.coblenzlaw.com. I ran for State Representative in 2010 and lost in the primary. Many of these posts are based on writing that I did for that election. Rather than delete it all, I decided to dump it onto the internet.

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