Nothing will pervert the English language more than the advancement of political-correctness

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

Being an American, I cannot refute the notion that we have changed the English language in such a way that the Queen would not be pleased.

Thanks in large part to Noah Webster, American-English is unique through economized spellings of words such as “color” versus “colour.”

Noah Webster
Noah Webster

But while those in the Eastern hemisphere may consider what we’ve done sacrilege, we think of it as merely more efficient. Us Americans, if nothing else, are historically quite productive, we simply don’t have time for superfluous letters—they just slow us down. (Yes, that was tongue-in-cheek; please hold the hate-mail.)

But unfortunately, we’ve launched a new breed of people who feel that we need to alter our language to make America a kinder nation as well. And so began the era of political-correctness.

The reasons for this practice generally fall into one of three categories:

  • A term has evolved into a status of disrespect; such as the anthropological word negroid devolving into a perverted version with such a hateful history, few people dare to utter it, and in so doing, almost completely eliminating its similarly sounding and scientifically accurate origin from normal discourse.
  • A marketing strategy to find a term that will sell your product better than a more accurate description. For instance, the PGA’s Champions Tour, formerly known as the Senior Tour until 2002, when the PGA decided to change the name. This despite the fact that in order to play on this tour, you don’t have to be a former champion, but simply a senior of at least fifty years of age, making this name change disingenuous at best.
  • A deceptive maneuver to somehow differentiate what you’re describing in a way that makes it unique, and somehow more palatable in the opinion of the person using it. Such as Gwyneth Paltrow’s “conscious uncoupling” from Chris Martin, which despite her best efforts to sugarcoat it, is simply a divorce.

    Gwyneth Paltrow/Chris Martin and Family
    Gwyneth Paltrow/Chris Martin and Family

My problem with political-correctness is the destruction of scientifically accurate terms in favor of touchy-feely ones, which often muddy the waters of what is trying to be said.

If you’re at least one generation older than children of today, you grew up referring to someone with a learning defect as mentally retarded. Anyone who works on cars knows the word retarded is simply the opposite of advanced. It is not an insult, it is accurate. It simply implies that they will learn at a slower pace than someone without a learning defect.
But today, we’re expected to say mentally disabled, a term that means, “unable due to injury or illness.”

I’ve known many people with this learning defect, and I can attest that they are quite capable of learning, it is simply more difficult for them to do so. As such, I find it insulting to call them disabled, when they are indeed able to learn, just merely slower at it than that which is considered typical for the average human.

The term “African-American” has almost completely replaced the biological term negroid, as was mentioned earlier, although black is still very common and widely accepted despite it not being any more accurate than calling Caucasians white. But isn’t this prejudiced in its own right?

The terms African and American refer to someone who is born, raised, or living in Africa or America, and when adjoined, should indicate someone who has been born, raised, or lived in both.

But if I were to encounter a Jamaican visiting the United States for instance, by calling him African-American, I’ve prejudged him by the color of his skin by referring to him as such. And in so doing, potentially insulted him if he’s a patriot who loves his home country of Jamaica.i-am-a-jamaican[1]

What is scientifically accurate should not be replaced by what is deemed friendlier or has better public perception. When we do this, we pervert our language in such a way as to confuse those who may not speak it fluently, and we erode the ability to have truly honest discourse.

But a more important issue for me is that there is only one time when it is acceptable to be offended, and that’s when someone is purposefully disrespectful with the intent to offend.

In giving the easily offended these linguistic victories, we enable their dishonesty and fake outrage. But no one likes the easily offended, and by enabling them, we merely encourage the attention-starved among us to be more like them.

Instead, we should strive to use words that are accurate, even if there is a negative connotation that may go along with them.

While I understand that divorce is rarely seen as a positive, are the Paltrow/Smith children really better off by calling a divorce a conscious uncoupling?

This differentiation insinuates divorce must somehow be unconscious, as if to say one day, in your sleep, you unwittingly drafted up divorce papers, and your partner woke up, and thought, “Hmm, I should sign this thing, whatever it is.”

At ten and eight years old, I’m pretty comfortable their children understand what is going on is a divorce, and calling it anything different is only serving to confuse them. It’s not what they call the process that matters, it’s how they present the situation to their children. As long as it’s done in an honest manner, and in such a way that the children understand that it won’t affect their love for them, semantics are completely unnecessary, and often counter-productive.

Maybe I’m a bit prejudiced since I call myself The Logical Libertarian, but can’t we all agree logic should trump opinion? That accuracy should trump fallacies? I will not lower myself to the level of the easily offended; it’s incumbent on them to be better at identifying that which is truly offensive, then learning to accept everything else. They’re the ones preaching tolerance and understanding, it’s time they practiced what they preached.

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Production vs Sales. Let’s redirect our focus for a stronger America

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

Read any want ad section and you will notice one thing is abundantly clear. A predominance of the jobs available in the United States are in the field of sales & marketing. This phenomenon has always troubled me.

A salesperson is selling a product, but someone has to produce that product, a process that is surely more labor intensive than selling it. So how can it be that we always need more sales people? Because the production jobs are going away.

I’ll briefly point out that many sales positions are commissioned, so companies often over-hire because they don’t really have to pay salespeople unless they do well. They’re effectively throwing ten darts at once in hopes of hitting a bull’s-eye instead of putting the effort in to being a better dart thrower. It’s both lazy and ineffective. You often damage your brand more than improving your actual sales.

But while advertising is important, it should always play second fiddle to production, let me give an example.

If I were to offer you the car of your choice, cost-no-object, what would it be? All over the world, many of you would choose a Ferrari. Yet, have any of you ever seen a Ferrari television or magazine ad? Likely not.

2014 LaFerrari from Ferrari
2014 LaFerrari from Ferrari

Yet, millions of you would buy one tomorrow if you could afford it, despite never being faced with a single advertisement from them. Aside from their racing efforts and emails, Ferrari doesn’t really do much marketing. People wear Ferrari-logoed clothing and put up Ferrari posters, essentially marketing Ferrari for free. This is genius! You pay Ferrari for the privilege of marketing their stuff, instead of them paying someone to market it for them.

So how is it possible that one of the most desired and recognized objects on the planet does not need to be sold? Because it sells itself, just look at it!

A beautiful design, flawless engineering, a sound that is mechanically orgasmic, and a palpable passion ooze from these machines. This quick video, one of their few actual marketing efforts which will never air on TV, but has been shared (for free) at the time of this posting 5 million times, should illustrate my point.
The lesson here is pretty clear. Too often you see business owners thinking that their issues stem from poor salesmanship instead of poor craftsmanship.

There are certainly bad salespeople, and some turnover should be expected, but marketing in general seems to be where companies want to spend their money instead of research, development, and production. I see (and occasionally have worked for) companies who have incredibly outdated equipment, inefficient internal processes, and products of inferior quality that could be easily updated, but they’ve emptied their bank account on advertising instead.

We’ve all heard the story of The Goose that laid the Golden Egg, this is exactly what many companies are doing. Profit-margin is the holy grail these folks are after, but this is how they kill the goose.

A company with a great reputation will hunt for a more cheaply made product, often in China, and then hope through marketing they can continue holding on to their market share. But once you gut that goose, and people find out you used a respected name to market an inferior product; profit margins may remain high, but overall profits will start to plummet as people take their business elsewhere.

For instance, let’s look at Irwin tools. You may have never heard of Irwin, but you’ve certainly heard of Vise-Grips, and they’re the makers of them. Since 1921, they have been making these pliers that just about every person has in their “tool drawer” at home. Irwin Vise Grips have been a superior quality hand tool for nearly a century, but no more. Irwin moved them to China in recent years as they hunt for greater profit margin.

As a libertarian, I certainly want companies to have the freedom to build wherever they wish to, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think it’s stupid.

These companies are hoping most people won’t notice the loss in quality and continue paying a premium price, but consumers who use products are pretty good at noticing when a product’s quality has been diminished, and it’s insulting. Believe me, I notice the difference—the new Vise-Grips are clearly inferior.

So these days, I don’t mind buying a cheap $5 pair from the local Harbor Freight, because I know they’re probably the same plier at this point, and I’m not paying extra for the Irwin name if I’m not going to get the legendary Irwin quality.

They’re now just another cheap Chinese version no different from all the other copies out there, there’s a good chance they all come from the same factory—China doesn’t exactly believe in intellectual property. We are talking about a country that brazenly opened up an Apple Store that wasn’t actually affiliated with Apple in any way. So it’s not unlikely that the factory Irwin commissioned to make their pliers isn’t selling the exact same pliers to others, literally giving Irwin’s design away to someone Irwin didn’t sell it to.zhuhai-iphone-store[2]

I want to point out that there can be no doubt, with labor unions, overbearing regulations, the highest corporate tax rate on Earth, and the ever-increasing cost of living in the United States thanks to a poor economy, the costs of building in the U.S.A. are ruining our chances of keeping these jobs. Irwin is not completely to blame here.

But if the American people demanded our government ease regulations, get rid of the corporate tax rate (they can’t vote, so why should they be taxed?), and make the concept of manufacturing in the United States more viable again, maybe the want ads will be looking for more than just the next Ron Popeil, and real jobs and quality products will again be a part of the American economy.

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