Governmentspeak insults taxpayer intelligence

It’s been said that making laws is like making sausage – not something one wants to see while in the process.

Yet, observing the City of Minot prepare its 2018 budget has been anything but vile. On the contrast, as Minot Daily News has opined previously, the city is doing an excellent job of constructing a reasonable budget in tough times, and doing it in the light of day for every taxpayer to see.

Furthermore, the preliminary budget approved last week is a good one. Congratulations are due the entire city administration, council and staff for demonstrating good governance to a community that maybe hasn’t seen enough of that over the years. Additional kudos are due the council for considering and adopting proposals offered by Council President Mark Jantzer to make deeper cuts and to re-route some revenue streams to flood protection.

Minot should be proud of its municipal government for taking both city needs and the realities of the current economy into consideration when preparing its budget.

However, Minot Daily News as matter of principle must address a matter of semantics.

Part of the proposed budgets is a “cut” in city employee pay. Only there is no “cut” in employee pay in the proposed budget. At least not “cuts” in the way normal people who aren’t government define “cut.” No one is proposing any “cuts” to employee salaries. Instead, the city is looking at reducing the rate of increase of employee pay, bringing it down 50 percent from the 3.5 percent increase initially proposed.

Only in government is an increase actually a “cut.”

If your employer gives you a 1.5 percent or 2 percent pay raise next year, do you consider that a pay cut? Probably not. There are plenty of private sector employees in Minot who won’t see a raise in 2018 at all.

Calling a reduction in the rate of increase a “cut” is universal in government and one good reason why bright taxpayers are leery of government in the first place. Use of the “cut” expression extends from the assumption that increases are automatic and a sense that of course, government employees will see their salaries increase each year.

Exactly why should government employees be automatically so entitled?

This is not intended as a criticism of Minot employees, or of Minot’s government, but instead of government overall and its use of language to perhaps be a little bit less than transparent with the people who foot the bill for government largess.

It is only because Minot is blessed with such a solid government today that Minot Daily News humbly requests leadership extend their wonderful efforts to using more realistic language when speaking to the public, be it directly or through media.

This government has set high standards for itself, thank goodness. Now, let’s see them extend that to the word they choose to express themselves. Let’s cut the semantic games and leave those to the intemperate children in Washington D.C.

It might seem a small thing considering what a good job Minot’s government is doing with the budget. But it’s an issue of principle and of that slippery slope from plain-spoken to governmentspeak.