Friday, October 21, 2011

Words carry a price

Yes, words do carry a price. They create a picture of intentions and sometimes carry unintended consequences. Your choice of words is so important. The words you choose can make your case or create an argument. In a current example of such let's look at the following:
It's time for Franklin to become more transparent with its taxpayers about the annual financial windfall inappropriately known as "free cash." 
Free cash is the extra money left over after the city balances its budget every June 30. It's revenue that Franklin collected from taxpayers but didn't spend. The free cash amount for the fiscal year that just ended is rumored to be nearly $3 million, although whether the official figure will be disclosed and discussed before the Nov. 8 municipal election remains to be seen.
"It's time" meaning this has never been done before?

"more transparent" meaning something has been hidden previously?

"annual financial windfall" meaning it occurs regularly or just happens?

"inappropriately" implying a judgment has been placed upon this practice by the writer?

"whether the official number will be disclosed and discussed before the Nov 8 municipal election remains to be seen." implies that 'Franklin' is hiding something. In fact, the certification of the final number is dependent upon the Commonwealth and not Franklin.

The writer does explain that "free cash" is the extra money "left over" after the June 30 close of the fiscal year but inaccurately implies that the budget is only balanced "every June 30". In fact, a balanced budget is what is approved by the Town Council for each and every fiscal year. By law, they have no choice but to do so.

Clear reflections

The choice of words the writer has chosen unfortunately continues to foster the misunderstanding that some folks have of the budget process. It could have promoted a better understanding of the accounting concept. It could have advanced the discussion in a thoughtful and intelligent manner.

Instead by choosing to color the topic as he did, the writer has drawn an "us versus them" scenario. Considering the writer is already embroiled in the discussion around the recent School Committee decision on the Franklin teachers contract, we get no closer to a real discussion of a valid topic.

If the writer really wanted to get into a serious discussion on the accounting term defined and certified by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, then his choice of words should have been reconsidered.


Related posts with additional info on this Franklin matter:
A "free cash" battle?  http://www.franklinmatters.org/2011/10/free-cash-battle.html

What will happen Oct 26th remains unknown? http://www.franklinmatters.org/2011/10/what-will-happen-oct-26th-remains.html

Election 2011 - Summary http://www.franklinmatters.org/2011/08/election-2011-summary.html