Monday, July 16, 2007

Abuse of Language


It's time to dump the lately much abused franglais term "le dumping," a word that Sarkozy favors when he wants to cast aspersions abroad without actually leveling an accusation. So today we learn that he and Angela Merkel are in perfect accord on the matter of the European Central Bank. Yet Merkel merely reiterated today's orthodoxy: that the Bank's credible commitment to price stability is everything and that threats of "political" intervention in this sacrosanct function cannot be tolerated. Whereas Sarko would appear to want to leave some wiggle room: "Article 121 of the treaty stipulates that the [European] Council can formulate the general orientation of exchange policy."

He then went on to "explain" that the problem was not with "the value of the euro," which is just fine, but rather with the value "of other currencies," left unnamed, and "the policies of monetary dumping conducted by certain states," also left unnamed. Lately we have been treated to the concept of le dumping social as well as le dumping monétaire. The obfuscation here is almost total, since France is in trade deficit and therefore selling (dumping?) euros for the other currencies its citizens need in order to buy what they want. And the implication that a currency has a "value" independent of the value of other currencies is a curious one, which Sarko ought to take up in the "daily conversations" he says he has with economics professor Dominique Strauss-Kahn, with whom he claims to see eye-to-eye on all matters of international economics.

When Ségo resorted to such obfuscatory language during the campaign, Sarko was quick to pounce, yet the uses of ambiguity are so alluring that chastity in this regard is readily sacrificed.

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