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Saturday, November 10, 2012

The fiscal cliff | Katherine Connor Martin, OxfordWords blog

Ah, the "fiscal cliff." It's the latest favorite expression of bloviating politicians (in both parties) and the news media. A popular favorite expression=cliche.

Martin's article explains that the term isn't new. It's been around since the 1980s, but it's been born again to describe what's supposed to be a financial crisis if U.S. political leaders in Washington, D.C., don't do something before the end of 2012 to prevent it.

Language-wise, I suggest we not jump off that cliff or even walk close to it. Instead, let's use the language of reality to find out the facts about what could or would happen in dealing with circumstances that our political leaders created in the first place when they reached a budget deal in 2011. 

Some wise people are suggesting we cool it on worrying about this cliche--and instead tackle U.S. spending and taxing matters with clear heads and hearts early in 2013. They say all the rhetoric about terrible things happening if we fall off the fiscal cliff is just that, rhetoric.

Fear-mongering is not leadership. It's also lousy communication.

Speaking of using plain language (yes, politicians, the news media and the rest of us should do that), here's some advice about how to do it: Garbl's Plain English Writing Guide. It describes a seven-step process for clear, concise writing that meets the needs of readers (and writers):
  • Focusing on your reader and purpose
  • Organizing your ideas
  • Writing clear, effective paragraphs
  • Writing clear, simple sentences
  • Using suitable words
  • Creating an enticing design
  • Testing for clarity.
For more comment on the so-called "fiscal cliff," see Paul Krugman's recent column in the New York Times, "Let's Not Make a Deal."

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Martin's article is featured today, Nov. 10, in my daily online paper, Garbl's Style: Write Choices--available at the Editorial Style tab above and by free email subscription. 

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