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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Corruption of Language (8)

The Government Accountability Office (GAO), a non-partisan agency of the United States Congress, has a reputation for honesty and integrity. Regrettably, the Congress frequently imposes rules on the GAO's analysis and reporting such that its conclusions are frequently misleading and, all too often, indistinguishable from outright lies.

Since the media rarely take the trouble to report more than the superficial story, the result is that our government lies to us but is only infrequently challenged.

The most recent disgrace is the report on the budget impact of the recently enacted Health Care Reform Act. The headline reports claim that the budget savings will be $138 billion.

Barely reported is the qualifier 'over the next TEN years'.

So the annual savings will be $13.8 billion which, compared to a projected deficit of $1.3 TRILLION for FY 2011, can accurately be described as useful but trivial. Worse, the projected savings include $500 billion of cuts in Medicare Reimbursement to doctors and hospitals. Anyone who believes that these cuts will actually happen may wish to enter into negotiations to buy a certain bridge over the East River!

There is another good reason why the the reported savings are mythical. The GAO is only permitted to consider the ten year period from the time the law takes effect. A cursory review of the legislation shows ten years of taxes and fees but only six years of benefits beginning in 2014.

No wonder that there are a few billions for deficit reduction. If the impact on the deficit was recalculated to show only Years 5 - 10, the answer would be distressingly negative but at least it would be honest.

Adolf Hitler introduced the theory of the 'Big Lie' in his autobiography Mein Kampf. He described it as a lie so "colossal" that no one would believe that someone "could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously". We are not there, yet, but we are walking down the road that leads there.

The corruption of language, including numbers and statistics, continues apace while the rate at which George Orwell is spinning in his grave increases at an ever more rapid pace.

Enough said!

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