Noah Webster might turn over in his grave, but thanks to new usage, some words need updating. Here are a few:
“No:” Japanese form of opera. All parts, including those of women, are played by men. It can sometimes be a sort of “coming out” in Japan.
Also a touchstone, slogan, or war cry applied frequently by the “loyal opposition,” especially in the U. S. Congress. They think of it as an innocent way to “hold the line” until reinforcements arrive, and they can go back to wrecking the country.
“Compete, viz. competitiveness:” A term used daily by nearly all U. S. corporations, especially those publicly owned. Couched as a non-negotiable objective and emphasis, its achievement by any means is justified. To compete means to stay in the game. Hence, firms resort to I-can-lay-off-more-than-you-can, reasoning that labor costs are the poison restraining all progress.
Firms actually do compete occasionally, for a while. When that and yearly “restructuring” fail, they then buy their competition. Then more layoffs follow, in order to remain “competitive.”
By definition, CEOs and their related executives are immune from competition.
“Motivate:” What corporations need to do, to retain their (insulated-from-competition) executives. If salaries 900 times that of the few remaining line workers are not enough, the firms try corporate jets, fully-funded retirement including health care, cars, clothing allowances, luxury vacations, to name a few, PLUS stock options (where applicable). If such options fall out of “the money” — i.e., the stock price doesn’t sufficiently or properly “reward” the non-competition-challenged exec, the options are “reset” by boards. Paying the shareholders, who own the firm, is not regarded as the first priority. The stock price is judged motivation enough for them.
“Surge:” A political solution to an unpopular or even illegal war. Also, a rise in poll numbers, usually for a politician. Occasionally an increase in pulse rate generally related to presence of a mistress, election results, or reception by a carefully chosen audience.
“White Out:” An obsolete means for correction of typographical error. Syn. An obsolete sociopolitical object, platform, or legislative aim, esp. in border states. Applied only along southern borders.
“Price:” Not to be confused with “Value.” Ant. Cost, as of a good or service. The excuse for every ill. Syn. “Taxes.”
“Variable Cost:” What is solved by layoffs when mergers, acquisitions, and deunionization fail.
“Fixed Cost:” The next great Satan in corporate thinking. Often equivalent to taxes, where utility rates have not been subsidized by a friendly jurisdiction. Also including insurance, esp. health coverage. Reduction or elimination is “job one.”
“Skills:” What the American work force lacks. What immigrant workers can offer, except in border states (see above). Retraining may be necessary, so long as the firms are not required to pay for same. In addition, schools constitute a part of many taxation regimes; hence, see “fixed cost,” supra.
“W:” The chart pattern for the US macroeconomy, 2008 to –? Also a moniker or nickname applied with approbation to the U. S. Chief Executive who kicked the same macroeconomy down the hill.
“Efficiency:” That condition where streamlining makes forever instant, the concept of expense is meaningless, and free money is everywhere. BP uses the term four times in its December 31, 2009, annual report before you even get through page three. Efficiency “experts” were once pretty common; now we call them economists. Conservative economists. They are pretty good at forecasting, if you want to know what happened yesterday.
“Risk:” The probability of unplanned outcomes. If you run a public company, it’s what faces the shareholders. If you run a private concern, this is what your employees endure. Of course, the intended outcome for you is called a “guarantee.” So don’t worry about this one. Unless you’re an employee or a shareholder, that is.