Doug Casey on the Recent Corruptions of the English Language
Doug Casey on the Recent Corruptions of the English Language by Doug Casey for International Man
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Let’s discuss words. Many of the words you hear, especially on television and other media, are confused, conflated, or completely misused. Many recent changes in the way words are used are corrupting the language. The corruption of language is adding to the corruption of civilization itself.
Words are extremely important because they provide the most important means we have to communicate with each other. If you don’t mean what you say and say what you mean, then it’s impossible to communicate accurately. Do you remember that famous line at the end of Cool Hand Luke, when Paul Newman gets shot? “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate”? That’s what I want to talk about.
Where shall I start, because there are over a million words in English? I’ve rather arbitrarily chosen a few that are especially relevant to investors and freedom lovers. Many of these words are popular with the political classes.
For instance, stimulate the economy. That phrase came out in the ’60s. It really just means “print up money.” They don’t use it much anymore because they can see it no longer results in stimulus; rather, the opposite. Now it’s called quantitative easing. And everybody uses it without questioning the fact that it means “print money,” “inflate the currency,” or “debase the currency.” They say “quantitative easing” with no irony. It makes me think the chattering classes are actually, in reality, quite stupid. I’ll discuss that word—“stupid”—later.
The “powers that be” use a word, and all the jabbering monkeys follow their lead using the same word. I advise you to call them on it. When you use the enemy’s language, you’re playing the enemy’s game on his field. And you can’t win a battle when you do that.
You may have noticed, for instance, that over the last 10 years, they only talk about gold in terms of tonnes. Not ounces, tonnes. This is doubly confusing to the average guy. Because they’re basically innumerate. Most people are unaware that there are two kinds of tons. There are metric tonnes, which are 1,000 kilos, or 2,204 pounds. And English, or short tons, of 2,000 pounds. And a lot of times, when I see things written, they’ll write “a ton of gold,” and they spell it T-O-N. It’s totally different from a T-O-N-N-E of gold, but nobody knows that, including the ignorant journalists.
But they shouldn’t be using either “tonnes” or “tons.” If you’re going to price something in ounces, and use something in ounces, and miners report it in ounces, it’s idiotic to insert “tonnes” into the conversation. Nobody buys or sells or uses a tonne of gold. Even though gold is priced in dollars per ounce, you have fools who talk about tons or tonnes—not having a clue how many troy ounces are in either of them. Or even vaguely knowing what a tonne of gold is worth. But it serves to make the subject of gold more confusing, and more irrelevant, to the average guy.
Let’s talk about bonds. I’m short bonds right now. But do you remember when debt instruments used to be called bonds and debentures? That is a critical but totally lost distinction.