Tea Party and the Right  
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How Conservatives Manipulate Language to Gain Power

Conservatives, the modern version anyway, aren’t good for much, but they retain a marvelous talent for manipulating language.
 
 
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As kids we learn that sticks and stones can break our bones, but words will never hurt us. Some time later, sophomore year in college for example, we learn that Friedrich Nietzsche wrote “names have the power to slay.” As an aside, Nietzsche also said “Arrogance on the part of the meritorious is even more offensive to us than the arrogance of those without merit: for merit itself is offensive,” which is a good observation, even though Oscar Wilde would have found a better way to say it. Conservatives, the modern version anyway, aren’t good for much, but they retain a marvelous talent for manipulating language. How else do you explain the fact that a bunch of people who managed to effectively destroy the world economy and are in a rush to eviscerate the social programs, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, that millions of Americans depend on for basic survival, are unashamed to call themselves “conservatives” while liberals, who were on the right side of both history and economics, try to hide behind “progressive”?

The latest, of course, has been the focus on the “weak” dollar. In the context of currency exchange, “weak” means inexpensive, as in “tending downward in price.”

If other countries have lots of dollars, the price of the dollar, relative to the yuan, euro, peso or whatever else, will drop. If other countries are spending these dollars to buy US products, they won’t have as many dollars, and the value of the dollar will increase.

It’s important to keep in mind that a strong dollar is good for American buyers, but a weak dollar is better for American sellers. Strong dollars give foreign-made products a price advantage over those made in the United States, and lead to more imports. Weak dollars give American products a price advantage overseas, and lead to more exports, which in turn means more jobs for Americans. Weak dollars raise the price of imported oil, which isn’t popular, but they also make US farmers and manufacturers more competitive on the global market.

The value of the dollar in international exchange doesn’t have much influence on Americans buying American-made products, so a weak dollar gives American manufacturers access to the world’s biggest economy, while the overseas competition has to raise prices.

Right now, currency exchange rates are starting to favor the United States. There has been an uptick in American manufacturing, and on May 10, General Motors, having returned to profitability (after a government bailout that Republicans opposed) announced that it would invest $2 billion to add up to 4,000 jobs at 17 American plants. Meanwhile, China is experiencing high inflation which is eroding its labor cost advantages. Things are looking up for the US economy.

So, what could go wrong? First, if the Republicans hold firm against increasing the debt ceiling, it would destroy the credibility of the US, and probably throw the entire world into a depression.

Tim Pawlenty, in an interview on Fox News said, “A strong dollar represents a strong economy and a strong country.” We’re back to confusing definition #14 with #1.

A strong dollar sounds good, and it would bring down the price of imported oil and flat screen televisions, but it would also mean more imports, and more jobs sent overseas. If Republicans want to play word games, couldn’t they stick to Scrabble where nobody gets hurt?

Sam Uretsky writes and practices pharmacy on Long Island, N.Y. Email him at sdu01@mail.com.

 
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