Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review Nov. 29, 2000 / 2 Kislev, 5761

Mark Lane

Mark Lane
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Debbie Schlussel
Sam Schulman
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Where did all these solution providers come from? -- I AM NOT a mere columnist. I provide newspaper column solutions.

One must keep up with the times.

Everybody who is is now a provider of solutions. People who used to work for the phone company now provide communications solutions. People who two years ago built network machinery now provide networking solutions.

I don't know why this happened. Maybe it's the kind of phrase made up by people who refuse to see difficulties when there are only opportunities. Who see the glass as half- full, not half- empty. Who make lemonade when life hands them lemons. Who accept challenges where others only see problems.

In other words, the self-deluded.

For some reason, this is particularly true of high-tech companies. The kind that supply Internet solutions, Windows-based software solutions and data- management solutions.

I don't mean to sound like the Noun Police, but none of these phrases makes it past the Daddy-what-do-you-do-at-work test. To pass, one should be able to imagine oneself repeating the job description to a kid. For example:

"Daddy, what do you do at work?"

"Well, Ashley, I provide high-touch, staff-actualizing business solutions for real-time modern workplace enhancement."

Most solution providers fail the Daddy-what-do-you-do-at-work test. Most fail the straight-face test. Nevertheless, get used to job descriptions like these:

  • Gardener: I provide landscaping solutions.

  • Cab driver: I provide personal transportation solutions.

  • Editor: I provide prose-related rehabilitative solutions.

  • Garbage collector: I provide on-site mobile waste-management solutions

  • Short-order Cook: I provide personal caloric solutions on a just-in-time basis.

  • Hit Man: I provide potential federal witness solutions.

Maybe we'd finally start paying teachers more if they provided learning solutions instead of teaching things to noisy little kids.

Why is this kind of corporate happy-speak so infectious?

A generation ago, people used the word "engineer" to embellish job descriptions. We read of sanitation engineers, smiled knowingly, and wished they wouldn't bang around the metal garbage cans. Now "solutions" provides the same kind of solution.

One of the more pervasive ways language is debased is when people are handed a vocabulary that forces them to say things they don't really believe. Language that drafts the user into the sales force. There's a level of happy talk that makes people unhappy. Or at least cynical. Solution-providing comes very close to that.

Debasement of language is a hard thing to stop. Particularly when it makes a person feel just a little more important in the office. It imparts the sense of being a little more 21st century. A little more a part of the workplace of the future.

What is to be done? Don't ask me, I'm just the content provider.

You need to ask a solution provider.

Comment on JWR contributor Mark Lane's column by clicking here.

11/20/00: Giving it the old Electoral College try
11/10/00: Ballot messes a Florida tradition
11/07/00: Vote naked! Cool idea, but is it progress?
11/02/00: Semi-whistle while you para-work
10/27/00: Decided by the undecided


© 2000, M. R. Lane