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Mutualist Blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism

To dissolve, submerge, and cause to disappear the political or governmental system in the economic system by reducing, simplifying, decentralizing and suppressing, one after another, all the wheels of this great machine, which is called the Government or the State. --Proudhon, General Idea of the Revolution

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Location: Northwest Arkansas, United States

Monday, January 19, 2009

At C4SS: The Trouble with Those "Shovel-Ready" Projects

"The Trouble with Those 'Shovel-Ready' Projects"


Blogger Gary Chartier said...

Good stuff as usual, Kevin.

January 19, 2009 2:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's some nice, concrete stuff there.

I know "Shovel-Ready" isn't your term, but it has long been a niggle that many people these days say shovel when they mean or should mean spade, particularly in the USA. The two are very different: a shovel is a scooping implement for loose material, with a short handle to allow lifting with the legs while keeping the load close and a broad blade with raised sides to reduce spillage; a spade is a digging implement with a long handle for leverage and a flat, narrow blade for a cutting action. It's analogous to the relationship between a soup spoon and a dessert spoon, which differ for very similar reasons. You cannot dig properly with a shovel!

January 19, 2009 3:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well that's because the term is avoided in the US. Much like our ancestors in the early US replaced "stone" with "rock" because "stones" was a slang term for testicles, "spade" has been replaced in common American parlance today because it was a racist term for black people.
Americans tend to avoid words that make them uncomfortable, or that might give someone overhearing part of a converation the wrong impression. So now, in the USA, a spade is a shovel, too. :)

January 20, 2009 10:02 AM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...

Thanks, Gary.

PML and Mantar: In general, I think American English was harmed more by Victorian sensibilities than was the dialect spoken across the Pond.

"Stones" wasn't just slang, it was standard English at one point. The book of Leviticus, as it appears in the English Bible, barred men who had been "wounded in the stones" from the priesthood, and elsewhere a Hebrew idiom for "man" is "one who pisseth against the wall."

I'm sure you're familiar with Churchill's difficulties pinning a corsage on that southern lady's "white meat."

Remember that mother in St. Elmo's Fire who said all the "not nice" words in a stage whisper? When my parents' generation was growing up here in Arkansas, many people substituted "cow's husband" for "bull."

I also worked in a restaurant where the manager insisted we avoid the term "rags" for the cloths used to wipe up spills, and call them "towels" instead.

January 20, 2009 12:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That absurdity could also explain a Vulgar Libertarian comment I once read, describing former lifestyles as "subsistence farming with an adze". I took it that the fool didn't know the difference between a hoe and the similar appearing adze. It may have been because some Americans don't know the difference between a hoe and a whore. But it's even worse to use an adze for digging than a shovel - it has an axe blade turned through a right angle and, like an axe, should only be used for wood (oh dear, there's another Americanism unused elsewhere to offend sensibilities).

January 21, 2009 9:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cassandra is the Vulgar Libertarian in question, quoted here: "...hand till a field with an adze because you don't like the combustion engine" (oops, Kevin Carson himself later repeated the incorrect usage). The original is here. My googling also turned up this interesting article (the use of the adze here, as of the pick, is for clearing and building on land rather than working it as such).

January 22, 2009 12:24 AM  

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