I realize, more than people know, how weary the American public has become from the constant barrage of verbiage coming from all types of government officials. We have the executive branch and the legislative branch of all governments constantly giving us hope, as they see it, including the leaders of the federal, state, county and city governments.
No wonder it is ignored by most; it is non-stop and nonsense.
Getting back to the title of this piece, I have selected some of the favorite words and sayings that immediately identify the speaker as a politician. Before I begin, however, you need to understand the motivation of most politicians, which is to make laws that will help keep commerce moving, people safe and the economy growing. The fact that we have literally thousands of laws that are on the books that speak volumes to these subjects are irrelevant to the speaker. In their mind we always need one more that will clarify everything that has gone before. With the aforementioned in mind, my favorite word is "oversight." This of course means reviewing and responding to any information or actions which will affect an outcome you are responsible to achieve directly or indirectly. I believe we have enough oversight. What we lack is the personnel to understand what they are reviewing and reach the needed conclusion. Just look at what we have learned about the SEC and the Madoff case: even though the SEC was tipped off to what was going on they couldn't recognize it or stop it.
Next is "transparency," which is easily explained: playing poker with all cards face up. Anything short of that is transparency lite, or mini transparency, but not total and unequivocal transparency. There are many ways to reach transparency, none in my opinion that would work if you are interested in winning a war, catching terrorists, awarding government contracts, etc. If you still believe in the need for such a thing, we could start by finding out who blinked first, the President or Tom Daschle?
How about the phrase "I will take full responsibility" or "I will take the blame for that mistake." Let's review what those words mean to the non-politician. In school, taking the blame for something that has gone wrong usually means detention, a meeting with the principal and your parent(s) or perhaps a lower grade. In bank robbing, it can mean a longer stretch in the pokey. In business, it generally means opening up your wallet to make it right. To a politician, it means checking the polls and making a speech highlighting the transgressions that have the lowest poll numbers, making sure in the speech that it was a momentary lapse that will never happen again. This is followed by lunch or the appropriate meal for the time of day.
"The system is broken" is a new favorite of the just-elected officials. To me it means paying farmers not to plant anything, no bid government contracts or the inability to see the latest movie because your CD isn't working. I am not close. The system that is broken, according to those in charge, is the banking system. The banks and the banking system are not broken - perhaps broke or insolvent - but certainly not broken. You can still deposit money, write checks and now and then get a loan, if you are lucky.
What was broken was the insistence of the government to have the banks' assets "marked to market" and then allowing the change of the uptick rule in short selling. The mark down of assets caused huge "paper" losses and then the short sellers took over and started selling the various bank securities. Without the rule that says you are allowed to short only after the stocks of the companies had gone up, it was easy to get everyone heading for the exit. With the up tick rule in place, you couldn't keep selling stock that you borrowed and didn't own, unless the stock moved up in price between the various short sales.
I close with my favorite saying: "we need to put politics aside and get down to business." This, of course, freely translated, is akin to the words from my favorite, late automobile pitchman, Mad Man Muntz who said, "I lose money on every deal, but I make it up in volume!" He would close with a call to action saying, "I will put the keys on the hood and turn my back - so come on down and take one."
Why do I feel that the only things that ever change are the words and the phrases?