Thursday, May 19, 2011

We're the Government and We're Here to Help You

So.  The Young President signed the "Plain Writing Act" last fall, and it will become effective in October.  Apparently, the measure will require federal government entities to use straightforward words when communicating with John Q. Public, and to avoid "pompous gibberish" and jargon, according to the Associated Press.

At first blush, I thought how very refreshing that idea was. 

Then I read the rest of the article.  Check out what the motive behind the Act is:

"It is important to emphasize that agencies should communicate with the public in a way that is clear, simple, meaningful and jargon-free," says Cass Sunstein, a White House information and regulation administrator who gave guidance to federal agencies in April on how to implement the law.

Bad writing by the government, he says, discourages people from applying for benefits they should get, makes federal rules hard to follow and wastes money because of all the time spent fixing mistakes and explaining things to a baffled populace.

But can clarity and good grammar be legislated?

That remains to be seen. The law lacks teeth. You won't be able to sue the government for making your head spin after October. And regulations are exempted.

Good grief.  Discourages people from applying for benefits they should get?!?!  If it would continue to discourage people from applying for benefits, I'd applaud Shakespearean or King James verbiage!! 

And regs are exempted?  That's where most of the boilerplate and convolutions live!

I wonder how one gets a job as "a White House information and regulation administrator who [gives] guidance to federal agencies?"

Oh, yeah.  Now I see.  The administrator is renowned Communist, Cass Sunstein.

We're doomed.


  1. Why does the acronym "BOHICA" come to mind? I'm just sayin'..."

  2. Didja get a spiffy new red pen for yer birthday, Moogie? You seem to be on about the language a lot of late, not that there's anythin' wrong with THAT. (It's a quirk we share, as you know.)

    But... back to the subject at hand. I hear you have some experience with the Army (insert smiley-face thingie here), so need I remind you the Groundpounders have been publishing comic book field manuals for, like, forever? Why doesn't the rest of the gub'mint take a page out of the Army's four-color book? Can you imagine how much more fun doin' yer taxes could be?

  3. I'm thinking you're both onto something here.