Saturday, August 28, 2010

There is Cutting and Then There is Cutting [Anthony McCarthy]

First some news you can use. It is true, that while you are in the kitchen cutting up vegetables, as the thought goes through your head, “I should get the cutting board out to do that,” you should do it. You really won’t be saving any time when you consider the time spent at the clinic getting your hand sewn back together and the work hours that paying for it will take up. And that’s not counting the extra time that one-handed typing won't add to your life.

The finger that got cut the worst, the one requiring the most stitches, doesn’t appear to be infected and there are no signs of permanent damage, at this point. Though the doctor sharing the information that the four stitches he'd just put there cost three hundred dollars (!) probably did bad things to my blood pressure and my mood re politics.

I will not be writing any of those long pieces that seem to not be drawing readers in myriads for a while. I am taking some of the time off to review The Plain English Guide by Martin Cutts. Having tried to clean up the old style in the past, it’s like learning a new language. You go into the effort more as an act of faith than with a guarantee that you’ll express yourself any more clearly.

There was this interesting fact noted on page six:

In the US, President Carter signed executive order 12044 requiring regulations to be written in plain English, though this was repealed by is successor in 1981.

So, the Great Communicator, early in his first term set about making regulations, once again, incomprehensible to the large majority of the population who haven’t had legal training, the money to keep lawyers on staff or experience reading bureaucratese. It’s not hard to figure out why, considering that his was the most corrupt, larcenous, interest conflicted presidency, holding the record for indictments and convictions in our history. Though, I firmly believe that if Barack Obama and his Attorney General wanted to make the effort the Bush II regime might give them a run for the record.

If you’ve ever had to wade through several of them, legal documents are written in lawyer talk and are all but incomprehensible without constant reference to a dictionary and the work of puzzling over each and every complex-compound sentence. That serves lawyers who most people will need to do that work for them, and it serves crooks who work just under the cover of that obscurity with the advice of crooked lawyers. Both of which, I’m certain, were the motives of the Reagan folks in overturning President Carter’s attempt at removing the veil of incomprehensibility from The Peoples’ business.

Now, I have to confess, that there are several lawyers I know and like very much, especially my own lawyer who is quite plain spoken. But I don’t think the dominant role they’ve played in our government has been good. Jimmy Carter, who we are reminded this week is, in fact, the most exemplary ex-president in our history, wasn’t a lawyer and, undoubtedly, has some of those firm eleemosynary beliefs that we are still left searching for in his successors. He also wasn’t the product of the Axis of Ivy that seems to rule this country.

The widespread use of obscurity as a shield for cheating and stealing should be recognized in the law, though you’re unlikely to get that reform from judges and lawyers. They mumble on in a strange and unknown tongue, which appears at times to be incomprehensible to themselves, in the interest of elevating their priestly status and, as well, their profitability. I doubt you’re going to get it from the Senate Judiciary committee gasbags. They’re a good example of what happens when too many lawyers congregate and exercise power.

It should be illegal to use obscure language and its use in cheating people should be a means of negating contracts, explicit and implied. The very concept of an “implied contract” is the product of intentionally deceptive obscurity. An agreement that isn’t fully understood on the part of all of the people involved is an agreement only by pretense.

But, seeing a half dozen places to take this and, obviously, not having reformed, yet, I’d better stop right now before I give in to temptation.