Thursday, December 30, 2004

Making the Government Understandable 

this is an audio post - click to play

Abraham Lincoln knew how to convey important thoughts in simple terms. He told us of a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. But many of today's bureaucrats and academic experts don't seem to get what Abe was talking about. Trying to read anything that the government puts out is often more trouble than its worth.

So, now comes Mike Durant. He is a government worker who is considered a heretic among his colleagues because, get this, he "wants government writing to be readable." Mike's formed a group of bureaucrats called Cal Clarity to promote this radical idea that the people ought to be able to understand what our government writes. He's also part of a group called the Plain Language Network. There's a story on him in today's Sacramento Bee.

I sure know that in my nine years of reading campaign finance and election laws, it often feels as if they were intentionally written so as to keep people from understanding them.

And get this, there is a private firm that specializes in translating government English into English that the rest of us can understand. They charge up to $97.50 an hour. I guess it's pretty hard work.

The fact that government employees can't write in ways that the people can understand is a pretty good indication that we don't in fact have a government of the people. If we did, we'd all know what they were saying.

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