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From the Left Hand Corner: 'Not sustainable' is not sustainable

The overused term “not sustainable” is, I hope, not sustainable. Of everything claimed to be “not sustainable,” much has been sustained, is being sustained and will be sustained for sometime forward — whether others of us like it or not.

If that sounds like a bit of gobbledygook to you, we agree.

“Not sustainable” is usually a lame way of saying that one is opposed to any particular project or program or concept that is under consideration, but is unwilling or afraid to directly state or admit his opposition. Just about anything that might reduce the content of a person’s purse or pocketbook becomes “not sustainable.”

It is becoming like it was with “weapons of mass destruction” and still is with “no new taxes” and other misleading misnomers. It is another fuzzy label used to shape and sway opinion, separated from factual persuasion.

As part of political “speeching” most everything has been contended as “not sustainable” at some time or other. Medicare and Medicaid are “not sustainable.” Social Security is “not sustainable.” Tuition increases are “not sustainable.” Pension costs are “not sustainable.” Prescription drug costs are “not sustainable.” Ticket prices are “not sustainable.”

Yet, the crowds continue to grow in numbers.

Over past years a Minnesota city attacked a long-existing contract health benefit as “not sustainable.” Through repetition and persistence, the term “not sustainable” has prevailed to cut the obligation even though the costs had been dealt with for a quarter century and were lessening every year.

As with many mistruths or misleading contentions, usage of “not sustainable” will likely continue to flourish as long as it has impact. It will continue unless there is collective demand for factual justification. Those of us who are tired of the tiresome will have to cringe and endure.

Although one side of our political spectrum seems to overuse the “not sustainable” tack more than others, the term is overused with non-partisan abandon.

Welfare critics and military spending critics throw out the “not sustainable” charge in multiple directions with quite equal abandon. We’re told its “not sustainable” to feed all those welfare moms’ kids. It’s “not sustainable” to maintain military bases all around the world. It’s “not sustainable” to provide college for every student or kindergarten for every kid. It’s “not sustainable” to bail out Chrysler or GM or big banks, and the list goes on.

Whether we ought to, the country is sustaining, or seeking to sustain, most of the above.

While some of us of conservative ilk are concerned about our pattern of spending more money than we take in, the practice rolls on through good years and bad. Candidates for elective office promise to cut taxes and at the same time, they pledge to provide requested added services, and voters believe them and elect them.

For most of our World War II and after years, we’ve accumulated nationwide debt. And for most of those years we’ve been subjected to tax cutting demands.

Yet, despite the shallow repetitious hue and cry of “not sustainable,” “We can’t sustain this” and “It’s simply not sustainable,” we continue to sustain.

The term “not sustainable” is not sustainable or, at best, is barely and disagreeably so. Let’s use it less, and more often say what we really mean.