From Jon, who runs the excellent Exurban League website and is a very funny guy, I learned that the Senate has finally decided to take care of a real problem that affects all Americans, a plague so noisome that our Congress must abandon such frivolities as stopping the biggest tax increase in well over a decade to address it. Today, the Senate has passed a decree that henceforth, all government communications shall “improve the effectiveness and accountability of Federal agencies to the public by promoting clear Government communication that the public can understand and use.”
Yep, folks. The same members of Congress who brought you a 2000+ page health care bill, a 2000+ page financial reform bill, and an 1100 page Vote Buying Act stimulus bill have now brought you the 1000-word Plain Writing Act of 2010.
I admit, I read the bill because I was eaten up with curiosity. I had to know exactly how Congress was going to pull this off. I’m sure you’ve noticed that Washington is not exactly packed full of wordsmiths and most government agencies could use a couple staff grammar teachers who wield a yardstick like Sister Mary Stigmata from The Blues Brothers. Unfortunately, the Plain Writing Act doesn’t do that. In fact, it puts the whole enterprise in the hands of a few high-ranking bureaucrats who will figure out what constitutes plain writing, set up training for all the hapless government employees who will have to unlearn all the habits they’ve picked up in their long careers, and determine how would-be Hemingways will be punished. Inother words, Congress is about to demand that people who have never written a simple declarative sentence in their entire professional careers are going to henceforth write like they were locked in a room churning out Dick and Jane stories.
That’s going to turn out really well.