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[originally published on TheRebuttal.com, 2008]i
“Nations, like individuals, first perceive, and then abstract.” - Thomas Babington Macaulay (English Historian, 1800-1859) “Wrest once the law to your authority; To do a great right, do a little wrong.” - William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice The U.S. economy has proven epic in its downward spiral - a dizzying freefall that has investors gnawing at their fingernails ad nauseum and chewing through their stiff upper lips nightly. But it seems our leaders have passed the Shocked Phase and moved right on to Perception Control. I'm not referring to the bailout here, but rather how the nation's political minds have chosen to refer to the bailout.
According to the International Herald Tribune, the preferred term for this frantic act of self-
serving mercy is now "rescue." The proposal to rename was submitted by John McCain on Tuesday, September 30th, as he is no doubt aware of the negativity the term "bailout" has received amidst such, well, negative conditions. He humbly suggested, "Let's not call it a bailout. Let's call it a rescue." I have a better idea John McCain: Let's continue calling it a bailout. Leaving no political coin unflipped, Barack Obama then used the term "rescue" six times in the moments following McCain's editorial markup. Not once was the term 'bailout' ever used. I have a suggestion Barack Obama: Let's just continue calling it a bailout. I'm not altogether comfortable with our presidential candidates using Roget's Thesaurus to downplay the severity of a fiscal crisis. I don't think a synonym is what the American people had in mind when its government's brain trust said it would churn out a solution. The whole idea is actually preposterous, and a cheap, depressing effort to use language as a tool to rebrand government intervention as a noble cause. It's just putting lipstick on a pig. There, I said it.
This bailout proposal is not a heroic "rescue" mission, as such a mission would require a complete lack of self-interest. The United States government has a lot at stake in the present state of Wall Street, which is why it is trying so dearly to save it. It would do well to finally own up to this fact and proceed accordingly. There is no need to call this anything other than a bailout - an admission of the flaws in the U.S. banking system, and the necessary government intervention to remedy the problem and stave off thirdworld status for a few more decades. Luckily, McCain has invited us into the discussion. He used the contraction "Let's," which implies the collective "us." He wants "us" - the U.S. people - to join him in this vocabulary shift from bailout to rescue. Thank you for opening this debate to the public, Senator. However, this citizen prefers bailout. Back to work.
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