For as long as there have been lawyers, there has been legalese. The fussy, formal language embodied in the United States Constitution was drafted to give notice to the King of England that we were breaking free and intended to fight for our independence. While King George could not mistake our intent couched in the flowery prose of that era, he probably would not understand: “Yo, dawg, we’re outta here.” That proclamation is ridiculous even in this age.
However, this is the 21st Century, but our management company in Washington D.C. still uses 17th Century language, translated into lawyer-speak to conduct the most important business in America – perhaps in the world. It’s amazing that even the Bible has been translated into common language, but our laws are still written in terms that are incomprehensible to most American citizens. I do understand tradition and the solemnity of the actions of our government, but conducting the nations’ business in legalese has little to do with tradition or giving our words weight and seriousness. It has to do with keeping Americans ignorant of the activities of the individuals we have hired to do our business. It seems to be the opinion of those in charge that we are incapable of understanding the workings of our own government; therefore we must have each proposed law interpreted through the filter of both parties and given an appropriate spin by each.
The concept that Americans are stupid also lends itself to the notion that we cannot begin to understand how EXPENSIVE it is to run this nation. Americans are not stupid, nor are we ignorant – we run businesses, small and large, we manage families and jobs and childrearing and eldercare and churches. We deal with suppliers and consumers and criminals and the handicapped. We recognize bargains and rip offs and if we don’t follow the government model, choose the bargain every time. We can correctly analyze any situation – any law – any purchase, but only if we are speaking the same language. Here is what I would like to see attached to every bill, grant, proposal, study, instruction and purchase order and every IRS, and EPA regulation, – every scrap of paper coming out of Washington, D.C.:
This bill proposes the following:
1. All American ducks will be inventoried and tagged each year.
2. All duck couples will be required to produce one dozen, (12) ducklings yearly.
3. Any duck couple incapable of producing the required number of ducklings will be painted bright green and released for the purpose of hunting.
4. The purpose of this bill is to ensure the balance and the quality of the duck population in America.
5. The duration of this program will be for a term of 5 years unless extended by the Congress in conjunction with the will of the People of the United States.
6. The cost of this program is as follows:
a. Waterfowl specialists (10) to ensure that all the animals counted are ducks : $1,000,000
b. Field inventory staff, (Duck counters) (500): $1,500,000
c. Paint specialists (100): $400,000
d. Auditors (5): $300,000
e. Equipment, supplies, and public education costs: $600,000
f. Total annual expenditure: $3,800,000
7. This project has funding from the general revenue pool - $800,000, Department of the Interior National Wildlife Fund - $2,000,000 and the Department of Defense, Citizen Firearms Proficiency Program - $1,000,000
8. Please address all inquires to Sen. Mallard Drake, chairman – Department of the Interior – Duck Division and your local Senator or Representative.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I can understand the scope and purpose of this bill, its operation, its cost and its funding. American government operations are not rocket science or DNA sequencing. Our government should operate with the same openness and transparency required of most of corporate America today. That transparency is certainly required of its ordinary citizens. The only reason for keeping Congressional language obscure and ponderous is to keep Americans from asking questions and demanding explanations from those we elect to look after our business. OUR business.