Dan Gillmor sez, "When we report the 'earnings' of the 1%, the media are often distorting reality. The 99% should demand that we use more neutral -- and accurate -- words."
To be sure, one of the meanings of "to earn" is "to profit financially" – but it is not the only one. The other major meaning is related to whether someone has deserved his or her gain, which may or may not be about money. Because the word has both connotations, we tend to attach both when the topic is about financial profits.
If we know anything about the recent income and accumulated assets of the now notorious 1%, it is that much of this wealth, by any rational standard, is undeserved. This applies especially to the Wall Street bankers who looted the global economy with sleazy tactics and, sadly, also with impunity.
That is why, if I was the editor in charge of any news organisation, I would flatly ban the use of the word "earned", when "profited" or "made" (as in money) would be much more accurate, or at least neutral. I would not try to say who "deserved" profits; only that profits were made.
Occupy language: the struggle over meaning
2001 Nobel laureate in economics Joseph Stiglitz has a long history of being on the right side of history. For example: pricing the Iraq war at $3T; raising the alarm about sovereign wealth funds acquiring US debt; nailing the double-standard on bailouts for debt crises (and the way that this destabilizes poor countries); sounding the […]
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It’s one thing to enjoy dinner at home and a nice glass of Cabernet Sauvignon with your best friend, Netflix, but it’s another thing entirely to make that meal from scratch and get that wine delivered right to your doorstep.But what if we told you there’s a way to make this possible? To keep your social life, […]