So, have I mentioned before that words matter? Maybe a time of two, huh? Well, this is a perfect example. When the committee for budget reform couldn’t come up with a solution, they put in place severe consequences if a
deal was not reached by January 1, 2013. Bernanke said it created a “Fiscal Cliff” and thus the term was born.
In reality it is more like a Fiscal Slope… but as I learned in grad school, perception is everything. And so, while the result of the Fiscal Cliff will take a long long time to be felt, certainly long enough to have created a deal, my guess is that this won’t matter. January 1st, the market will crash and throw the economy into a tailspin even though no one, technically, at that point will feel the pain.
What if Ben Bernanke had called it a Fiscal Slope? What would have happened then? Would the public understand that there was still some time to get things fixed before the spending cuts and tax hikes hit our wallets? Probably. And this is why every news organization is now trying to clarify this point.
But, the damage has been done. Ask almost anyone why lawmakers are working to create a deal, and the words they will use are, “Fiscal Cliff”.
As writers we work hard to create the right images for our story. Why? Because we know that these images, like a picture book in people’s brains, add depth to the story. A friend and I recently got into a debate about whether I used the “F” word in my story, BETTING JESSICA. I assured her I never would. But she swore I had. After a thorough
search I confirmed that the closest I had gotten was “what the…” Did any other readers fill in the blank there with the “F” word? Presumably so. Had I used the term, “huh?” would readers have done the same thing? No way!
It’s too late now to revise “Fiscal Cliff” in the public’s mind. The picture is drawn and January 1st we will fall off of it, even if it originally only looked like a slope. I am fairly sure, through the power of words, it has transformed into a cliff now anyway.
Don't forget.... Tomorrow, Novemeber 30th, I'll be posting my Free Read on - Free Reads for the Genre-istas. It's a super fun Holiday story so go check it out!