Thursday, September 1, 2011

Federal Family? Just Gag Me...

In the news lately has been word that FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) has been trying all it can to avoid using the word 'government' and consistently replace it instead with the term 'federal family'.


Now, in fairness, the term is not new at all (it debuted in 1999), but there seems to be a particular urgency to use this term more now. The linked story said that the purpose is to try and make it (FEMA and the government at large) seem softer and gentler.  It also said that the term could evoke images of 'Big Brother and organized crime'.  

That's partially true, in my view.

But the more important aspect, I believe, comes through the overuse of the word 'family'.  It reminds me of the word 'community' - both are things people are supposed to do rather than necessarily just talk about.  We hear all the time in the media about 'the (fill in the blank) family', but those are just concepts that have no basis other than just to either be a talking point or to make people feel warm and fuzzy about themselves.  Some concepts are just moronically contradictory, such as the 'international community'.  What does that even mean?  

Now, if I hear someone at school talk about family - that's legitimate, because I have seen it in action time and time again.  But that's the other thing - there is a completely local element to it that has a meeting place and ritual to it and so forth.  The idea of the federal government as 'family', however, is patently absurd.  It completely misses the whole point of government, which is to provide certain services for its citizens; in other words, it is supposed to work for us, not be 'members of the family'. I have no doubt, though, that part of the rationale all the way back to 1999 was to deliberately obscure that distinction.

Do I think the federal government is too large?  Absolutely - all it takes is twenty to thirty minutes of reading this blog to figure that out.  Do I think there is a place and role for an agency like FEMA?  Yes, although the Paul-bots won't like that answer, oh well. Unfortunately, the language gets butchered in such a way that the distinctions and definitions of things get blurred, usually by design.  But despite that, there is still a place for the government to operate and for emergency agencies as well.

Just don't try to make anyone call them 'family'.

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