Dictionary Of Government Doublespeak

Ever wondered why you simply can’t understand bureaucratese? It’s a problem that daunts many people, what with phraseology like “firmly tentative,” “bold caution,” and “interim final rules.” But never fear: your old friend Fran is on the job, and herewith presents the First Edition (collectors be alert!) of his fabulous…


Like the exotic language it unravels, this dictionary is a living, growing document; interested parties are warmly invited to submit their favorite statist obfuscations for inclusion in future editions. Meanwhile, welcome to the land of American Newspeak, where currency becomes money, law becomes justice, plunder becomes taxation, inflation becomes price increases, war becomes peace, freedom becomes slavery, and ignorance becomes strength. It looks like English, it sounds like English, but the English I learned in school, it ain’t.

When They Say You Should Hear
Abusive tax shelters Survival foxholes for the productive
Affirmative action Nouveau discrimination
Ally Former or future enemy (e.g., Russia)
Antitrust laws Unintelligible
Austerity Higher taxes and government spending
Balanced budget When Hell freezes over, maybe
Big Bad, except for government
Black market Free market
Brain drain People with talent and hard sense fleeing to countries with stronger
property rights and more personal freedom
Budget cuts (bureaucratic profanity)
Bureaucrat 1. Professional parasite

2. Plunder broker

Campaign contribution Down payment on future legislation
Campaign promises Liar’s poker
Capital gain Automatic liability
Capital loss (The IRS says this can’t happen)
Capitalism (undefined)
Cease-fire Halftime for war
Civil servant Government employee; neither civil nor servile
Commissions Parking places for stubborn problems
Common good “Just trust me”
Competition The ultimate evil
Conservative Someone opposed to high taxes and government spending, unless they
benefit him or his constituency
Contribution Extortion
Crisis Excuse for raising taxes and hiring more bureaucrats
Cure Bigger government
Currency Worthless paper that bears the same relation to money as a car title
bears to a stolen car
Cutting red tape New regulations for old
Debt rescheduling Declaring national bankruptcy (“if you don’t have it, flaunt
Defensive weapon Russian bomber in Cuba
Deficit spending Kiting checks
Democracy “The bludgeoning of the people, for the people, by the
people” (Oscar Wilde)
Department of Energy OPEC’s Washington lobbyists
Depression Government-inflicted wound to the economy
Destructive competition Competition that increases the volume of goods and services while
lowering their prices and otherwise “destroying” prosperity
Develop Corrupt or destroy (e.g., “develop” the economy)
Dictator (friendly) A criminal (e.g., Somoza) who oppresses the people, admires Hitler, and
embraces fascism.
Dictator (unfriendly) A criminal (e.g., Castro) who oppresses the people, admires Stalin, and
embraces Communism.
Diplomacy Saying “nice doggy” winningly while groping for a rock.
Discrimination (see “graduated income tax”)
Dumping Bargains for consumers on imports
Easy money Inflation
Economic democracy Socialism
Economic policy Reelection strategy
Election “advance auction of stolen goods” (H.L. Mencken)
Embassy Espionage headquarters
Enemy Former or future ally (e.g., Russia)
Energy crisis “Oh my God, what have we done?”
Ethics (undefined)
Entitlement program Institutionalized theft
Essential Luxury we can’t afford
Fact-finding tour All-expenses-paid vacation
Fair Too many meanings to list here
Federal debt “We’ll spend it; you’ll pay it.”
Federal Reserve Note “We make money the old fashioned way; we print it.”
Fiscal dividend Taxes generated by inflating hapless Americans into higher tax brackets
Flexible Unprincipled
Foreign aid Auction for “allies”
Foreign policy “perpetual war for perpetual peace” (Charles A. Beard)
Forgotten man Taxpayer
Freedom “Voting makes you free, doesn’t it?” (cf. Russia)
Free trade (undefined)
Government “An association of men who do violence to the rest of us” (Leo
Government Accounting Office Chaplain of the whorehouse
Government estimate Wrong
Government loan Gift
Government employee Diligent loafer
Hard-core unemployed Politician or bureaucrat
Helping the poor Plundering the productive
Hoarding Saving
Honor Swollen ego
Improving compliance Threatening louder
Industrial policy Causing companies to go bankrupt with government interference and then
investing tax money in them (cf. Lockheed)
Inflation Unarmed robbery via the printing press
Inflexible Unwilling to sell out your principles for a government job or a
pork barrel appropriation
Internal Revenue Service “We provide relief from prosperity!”
Investment Speculation
Jobs bill Bureaucrats get the jobs; taxpayers foot the bill.
Justice (undefined)
Keynesian Economist who believes that prosperity is the result of printing more
zeroes on more pieces of paper
Law Formal injustice
Leadership Staying on top of the polls
Legal tender Worthless paper currency backed by a gun
Liberal Government worshipper
Lynch mob Informal injustice
Majority rule Mutually assured plunder
Managing Interfering
Market failure “We want MORE!”
Meaningful dialogue Empty posturing and rhetoric
Minimum wage Price controls on human flesh
Monetary policy Rate of inflation
Money Currency
Monopoly Successful business whose campaign contributions went to the losing
Nationalization Confiscation
Necessary Don’t argue
Negotiation Surrender
New Deal Socialism
No (undefined; this is a word that politicians apparently cannot say)
Nonaligned country Dictator shopping for the best deal
Objective (see “necessary”)
Obscene profits Imaginary gains from inflation (Jimmy Carter’s overworked imagination)
Off-budget items Underground government
Offensive weapon Russian bomber in Russia
Open society “What’s wrong with wiretapping?”
Paternalism Totalitarianism
Peacekeeping force U.S. troops furnished to a Third World hellhole for target practice
Peace with honor Surrender
Permanent (undefined)
Police action Mass murder with conventional weapons (“Is killing conventional?”
— Arthur Herzog)
Political crisis Not getting reelected
Positive action Inflation
Price controls “How dare you call our freshly printed currency worthless!”
Principle “Something that politicians must rise above” (H.L. Mencken)
Promise A firmly tentative maybe
Property taxes Protection money for real estate
Public interest group (see “economic pressure group”)
Public servant Public master
Rationing “Now that we’ve killed the goose, we have to divide up the eggs
fair and square”
Reaganomics Spending oneself rich
Realism Socialism
Recession “My nature is too refined to use the word ‘depression’ “
Redistribution Trolling for votes
Regulation Strangulation
Reindustrialization “Invest in yesterday!”
Rent control (see “redistribution”)
Revenue shortfall Spending hemorrhage
Rights Desires or demands
Selfish Wanting to keep what you earned
Social justice More government
Social Security Government Ponzi scheme
Socially responsible Submissive
Speculators People who attempt to protect themselves from irresponsible government
economic interventions by buying hard assets
Spending cuts (bureaucratic profanity)
Stabilization Subsidization or price control
Statesman Politician unable to attain elective office
Stimulating the economy Inflation
Supply management Pouring milk into the gutter to raise milk prices
Tariff Restraint of trade by government
Tax audit Guilty until proven innocent
Tax benefits The thanks you owe a burglar who refrains from taking everything
Tax cut Tax increase
Tax-free “We haven’t gotten to it yet”
Tax protestor Citizen under the delusion that the Constitution will be upheld by the
Tax return Signed confession
Taxation Armed robbery
Taxpayers Victims (“Stand still, little sheep, and be shorn.”)
Temporary Permanent (e.g., withholding tax)
Tight money Restraint of inflation
Transfer payments (see “majority rule”)
Treaty Meaningless scrap of paper
Trust fund Betrayal fund
Underground economy (see “black market”)
Unemployment Gainful idleness
Unfair competition Healthy competition
Unpatriotic Someone who declines self-immolation
Verifiable Unverifiable
Voluntary Compulsory (e.g., “voluntary taxation”)
Voluntary import quota Extortionary restraint of trade
Voluntary taxation Decline to volunteer and receive a free vacation behind bars
Voodoo economics Cutting spending and ceasing to inflate
Voting Choosing between evils
War of national liberation War of national enslavement
War on poverty War on property rights and prosperity
Waste (undefined)
Wasteful duplication of services (see “unfair competition”)
Welfare Generosity with someone else’s money
Zero-based budgeting Race to add zeroes to government budgets