George Orwell 's classic essay "Politics and the English Language" noted that euphemistic language had political effects. In Stalin's Soviet Union, murder of political opponents was politely termed "liquidation." Get people to change language, and you change how they think.
This is a banner year for political euphemisms, and the right seems to do it better than the left. Republicans are having modest success in getting "death tax" accepted in general usage to mean estate tax. The other day, in an NPR commentary, Everett Erlich, a former undersecretary of commerce in the Clinton administration, used "death tax" as if it were not an Orwellian invention but a neutral term. Our friend Robert McIntyre keeps trying to get people to call the estate tax a wealth tax, which in fact it is, but to no avail. The anti-abortion lobby has succeeded in getting "pro-life"--rather than the accurate and more neutral term "anti-abortion"-- injected into general usage,...
Like many administrators, Edward Blakely doesn't need to be convinced of the Internet's importance to the future of his university. As the new dean of the Graduate School of Management and Public Policy at the New School University in New York, he seems primed to capitalize on it. Blakely's school was among the first to go online. Forbes magazine once ranked its online learning program as one of the 20 best in the country. The New School is situated in a major metropolitan area where its flexible class schedule caters to the busy professionals who make up the bulk of online students. Blakely is encouraging his professors to put every class online. He is beefing up the school's distance learning program and trying hard to attract new students. He is struggling with phrases like "cheaper modalities," and at age 62, he is teaching his first online class. Yet despite all this, the New School's online market share is diminishing.
Blakely is suddenly...
T he Bush presidency has already been a nauseating roller coaster ride for environmentalists. "There was tremendous disappointment once it became clear that George W. Bush would be president," says a senior attorney at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). "That was followed by a real sense of hope when Christie Todd Whitman came in [as EPA director]. Then shock and disbelief when Bush reversed on carbon dioxide. Then hope again when it came out that Whitman had urged him not to." Many of these confusing ups and downs have been a result of conflicting agendas between Whitman and the White House--which has led to a series of humiliating gaffes, including the president's decision to rescind drinking-water arsenic standards, his reversal of a campaign pledge to clamp down on carbon dioxide emissions, and his abrupt declaration that the Kyoto Protocol on global warming was "dead." Each of these moves undercut Whitman, the former New Jersey governor whom many believe took the EPA...
After the Safety Net: A Welfare Reformer Reflects on What Washington Wrought
David T. Ellwood is the Lucius N. Littauer Professor of Political Economy and former
academic dean at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government. He previously served as
assistant secretary for Planning and Evaluation, Department of Health and Human Services.
After serving as one of the two chief architects of President Clinton's welfare reform proposal,
Ellwood resigned in protest over Clinton's support of the Republican bill -- a bill that did not
provide jobs or other protections for welfare recipients who reached welfare time limits without
finding a job.
Q: You were one of the principle architects of a welfare reform policy that
pledged, "Two years, and you work," with some sort of job guarantee if no
jobs were available. As you wrote in this magazine in 1996 [ "Welfare Reform
as I Knew It," TAP , May-June 1996 ], Congress...