Advice, n. The smallest current coin.
“The man was in such deep distress,”
Said Tom, “that I could do no less
Than give him good advice.” Said Jim:
“If less could have been done for him
I know you well enough, my son,
To know that’s what you would have done.”
………— From The Devil’s Dictionary
I wrote a little earlier about the “Occupy” movement, but it was only a snapshot of what I seemed to be seeing at the time. Don’t take it too seriously. I haven’t participated enough to be comfortable saying much about it.
…but you know I’ll say something anyway, right?
First, words fail me in trying to express approval. None of the usual words are good enough. I tried mixing a few metaphors and could only come up with:
“a canyonful of laurels”
“bro fist of an angry god”
“a shout out for making a magic mark”
“Occupy” seems to be the best thing going right now in the way of a mass movement that might actually accomplish something. In another time, I’d be there, pretty often, doing whatever I could for it.
Nowadays, I’m mostly a language quibbler. Be patient.
Early on, OWS came up with this: http://www.nycga.net/resources/declaration/ and it’s a nice document, for a list of complaints that doesn’t try to propose solutions. Having said that, there’s a bad language habit that I need to point out. It’s far from unique to “Occupy”. I’ve done it myself, as have all kinds of lefties and “progressives” since time immemorial. It’s that “corporation” thing.
When Newton defined “force” as “mass times acceleration”, he didn’t care that this had nothing to do with dozens of other meanings that the word “force” had up until then. He was taking a word with a vaguely suggestive meaning, and giving it a very specific definition for his purpose. The same with the definition of “intelligence quotient” as “typical age of grade placement in the French public school system divided by chronological age”. Many evils can be attributed to confusing vague meanings of words with specialized
First, three things that might surprise some of my readers:
(1) Many of the biggest, nastiest agglomerations of wealth, including the infamous Koch brothers, are not corporations:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39317328/ns/politics/t/report-big-business-turns-small-tax-purposes/#.TwC0hoHQeiQ and http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/39316659#39316659
(2) Many corporations are non-profits doing completely non-political, good
service to the community. See: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/26/501%28c%29.html
Prohibited Contributions and Expenditures
The FECA places prohibitions on contributions and
expenditures by certain individuals and organizations.
The following are prohibited from making contributions
or expenditures to influence federal elections:
Federal government contractors; and
(They have ways around this, obviously, but that involves far more than I feel like writing, or you feel like reading right now.)
A couple of things that the above mean right off:
(1) A constitutional amendment to abolish corporate personhood wouldn’t do diddly to keep the Koch brothers from doing what they’re doing.
(2) When Greens say “We don’t accept campaign contributions from corporations.”, we’re only saying that we comply with the law, where federal elections are concerned. There’s more to it, of course, but that’s for another time.
Clearly, “corporate” and “corporation” have a meaning in our culture, probably quite a few meanings, that have nothing to do with any legal definition. Legal definitions also vary a great deal with the jurisdiction and the particular corporate charter. If you want to know more about this, read the IRS, FEC, and FPPC web sites just for a start. “Corporation” seems to have a different definition in each law.
For a long time we’ve been using “corporate” and “corporations” as shorthand for “Big money, which sometimes, not always, makes use of the special privileges granted corporations to do its nefarious deeds.” It’s something that really needed some shorthand, too. OWS took a step forward by simply branding “the 1%” as the source of evil. It’s a big improvement over what we often did before.
I would suggest expanding on that theme and finding some more phrases that mean “the ridiculously rich, in all their guises, with all their pathologies”, and save “corporation” for when we’re really talking about something’s legal status. To always say “the 1%” can get old with too much repetition.
Should I turn this into a contest, maybe? Who can come up with the best variation on “the 1%”? Winner gets… uh…. special recognition in these pages? Maybe I can dig up some
old mathom to send.
Entries will be judged by:
● easy comprehension by the average American (eighth grade reading level)
● honesty and accuracy in what it tries to describe