SIROTA: Will anyone remember our soon-to-be-lost vernacular?
By far, the laziest, most vapid articles annually published during this post-holiday season are lists of the past year’s top 10 words and aphorisms.
Admittedly, the sloth of such an endeavor tempts me. But as a new dad, I think I’ve got a more worthy list to add to the pile – one of current words and phrases that my kid may never know because they are so outdated.
Here are those harrowing 10. I hope I’m wrong but fear I’m not.
10. “Civil liberties”
My son will surely read the U.S. Constitution in civics class, but he’ll be confused because so many of that document’s freedoms have been extinguished in the post-9/11 era. “What are civil liberties, Dad?” my son might ask. My response: “Good question.”
9. “Public school”
With for-profit forces successfully pushing to privatize public education, I pray there’s a decent public school left for my son to attend – at least then there’s a chance he’ll know what one is.
8. “Budget surplus”
This term will be in the Bill Clinton footnote of my son’s history textbook. But with our refusal to cut bloated defense budgets or preserve Clinton’s tax rates, he’ll probably have no idea what the term means.
7. “Potable water”
No doubt in the shadow of ubiquitous oil and gas rigs, I’ll tell my son of the halcyon days when drinkable H2O was widely available. I’ll also tell him that when he was a toddler, lawmakers ignored warnings that oil and gas drilling threatened to contaminate groundwater. Granted, I’ll sound like the Lorax. Unfortunately, my story won’t be a Dr. Seuss tale – it will be real.
Even as states limit collective bargaining rights and corporations bust organizing drives, my son will somehow still know this word. The problem is that he’ll insist it’s a Civil War-era synonym for “north” – and that’s all.
My son might encounter “peace” when he reads Orwell and sees the phrase “War is peace,” but he’ll probably take that phrase literally in what the Pentagon now deems “the era of persistent conflict.”
How can a presidential candidate win without the most votes?” my son will ask. “Why are corporations allowed to buy politicians? What’s ‘democracy,’ dad?” Dead silence will follow.
3. “We’re all in this together.”
I’ll try to teach my boy the values of solidarity. But I fear I’ll hear in return that American motto: “Greed is good, daddy.”
University of Southern California researchers predict that within five years, “only four major daily newspapers will continue in print.” Tragically, that suggests that when I explain my career and I show my kid a newspaper, I will be pointing at a museum’s glass case.
At that museum, I’ll find the newspaper you might be reading this column in, and I’ll show my son the articles reporting on real issues in local communities. I’ll tell him that he’s looking at journalism – and I can only hope he doesn’t respond by asking me if it was “fair and balanced.”
– David Sirota is a best-selling author of the new book “Back to Our Future: How the 1980s Explain the World We Live In Now.” He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado and is a contributing writer at Salon.com. E-mail him at email@example.com, follow him on Twitter @davidsirota or visit his website at http://www.davidsirota.com.
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