Thinking in Jargon

4f1fb9ceI rarely write about politics here.

Why bother?

It only devolves into tribal chest thumping.

But today, I will delve into the heart of it and write about Minnesota’s Governor Tim Walz.

He is a Democrat which neither pleases nor displeases me. What bothers me is that he is a bureaucrat.

Listening to him speak is a painful reminder of every wasted day spent struggling to stay awake through a schedule of seemingly endless four hour meetings.

The guy speaks in jargon.

Sure, every field has its vernacular, which is good because jargon is nothing more than verbal short hand. It is a way of compressing language among those who share specialized knowledge.

When used well, it shortens and sharpens the conversation, but when used poorly, jargon become nothing less than a buffet of word salad.

While Minneapolis was burning, our Governor spoke of being “in consultation with partners to deploy assets in mission specific tactics”.

And on and on and on, it went.

It got worse as the riots got worse.

But the language of bureaucrats does not bother me. I am used to it and well practiced in the art of sleeping with my eyes open.

What troubles me is that bureaucrats not only speak like that, they think like that. The dark side of jargon filled speech is jargon filled thinking which result not just in a word-salad of meaningless phrases but a smorgasbord of meaningless actions and empty gestures.

For week after week, our Governor and our Department of Health blinded themselves with an epidemiological model that was written over-night by two grad students at the University of Minnesota.

In the words of Governor Walz, it told them how to “twist the knob” and “turn the dial” of executive orders to control the spread of covid.

However, for week after week, the model produced projections that were constantly wrong and failed to address the obvious: the folly of stuffing nursing homes and long-term care facilities with covid-positive patients.

But while the model spoke fantasy, the data spoke harsh reality.

It screamed what to do and what not to do.

And the result was that more people died from covid in Minnesota nursing homes and long-term care facilities than the total number of those who died from covid in Wisconsin, a comparable state.

I lost an aunt to that folly.

When a well seasoned and respected local television reporter brought this up, he became persona non grata at the press conferences.

I am sure the governor thinks he is doing the right thing and seems to be a decent fellow – but when one’s mind is muddled with group-think and jargon, the results are inevitable.


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