More meaningless terms from Thomas Sowell

An August 2012 post on da-boss gave a brief list of terms commonly used in the political jargon which are devoid of meaning:

https://da-boss.com/2012/08/02/the-meaningless-terms/

Recently, Thomas Sowell has weighed in on a similar issue:

http://jewishworldreview.com/cols/sowell050813.php3#.Ubo-bEqN1aQ

so it is interesting to compare our notes. Just to refresh the da-boss’ readers memories: my nominations to the title of the most meaningless social/political term were social justice, equality and fairness. Let us now take a look at Sowell’s picks. His piece is so brilliant that I decided to add some direct quotes from it:

If there is ever a contest for words that substitute for thought, “diversity” should be recognized as the undisputed world champion. You don’t need a speck of evidence, or a single step of logic, when you rhapsodize about the supposed benefits of diversity. The very idea of testing this wonderful, magical word against something as ugly as reality seems almost sordid. To ask whether institutions that promote diversity 24/7 end up with better or worse relations between the races than institutions that pay no attention to it is only to get yourself regarded as a bad person. To cite hard evidence that places obsessed with diversity have worse race relations is to risk getting yourself labelled an incorrigible racist.

(…)

Among the candidates for runner-up to “diversity” as the top word for making thought obsolete is “fair.” Apparently everyone is entitled to a “fair share” of a society’s prosperity, whether they worked 16-hour days to help create that prosperity or did nothing more than live off the taxpayers or depend on begging or crime to bring in a few bucks. Apparently we owe them something just for gracing us with their presence, even if we feel that we could do without them quite well. At the other end of the income scale, the rich are supposed to pay their “fair share” of taxes. But at neither end of the income scale is a “fair share” defined as a particular number or proportion, or in any other concrete way. It is just a political synonym for “more,” dressed up in moralistic-sounding rhetoric. What “fair” really means is more arbitrary power for government.

(…)

“Affordable” is another popular word that serves as a substitute for thought. To say that everyone is entitled to “affordable housing” is very different from saying that everyone should decide what kind of housing he or she can afford. Government programs to promote “affordable housing” are programs to allow some people to decide what housing they want and force other people — taxpayers, landlords or whatever — to absorb a share of the cost of a decision that they had no voice in making. More generally, making various things “affordable” in no way increases the amount of wealth in a society above what it would be when prices are “prohibitively expensive.” On the contrary, price controls reduce incentives to produce.

Hats off to Thomas Sowell for making his points with the usual clarity and wit.

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