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is “politically correct” language. Stay away from it – for the most part. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Just be cognizant of people’s feelings. Most anything can be said plainly but with tack. Being “politically correct” has become everything from political rheto- ric to being the source of humor and just about everything in-between. I have never taken much interest in political correctness and simply try to be as considerate and polite as possible to those that I’m working with and for. Of course, I have read or heard a few things that were “politically correct” that were plain and honest and put forth admirably, and I’ve heard those things that were quite amusing, but in general, I have not had much use for what has, in my opinion, become a radical way of not offending people that actually seems offensive in its own right. In reading through a list of “politically correct” terms, I learned that a shoplifter is actually a “Cost-of-Living Adjustment Specialist” and that being dead is “Actuarially Mature.” Te list of ridiculous politically cor- rect terms is almost endless and in my opinion almost useless. However, I came across one term that was somewhat interesting and one that I felt could be useful. So, let’s segue into my infrequent positive moment of political correctness. Ever hear of “pressure-prompted?” Tis term is used to be politically


correct when describing one who is a procrastinator. Don’t laugh. We all sometimes find ourselves pressure prompted. I’m suffering those pangs right now trying to meet a deadline for the writing of this article. Let’s mull over the potential usage of that term and what it could mean if it was taken out of its politically correct context. It often seems as though government, at all levels, is content to oper- ate under the status quo until external pressures require change. While government is likely not categorized as a “procrastinator,” it certainly is “pressure prompted.” Look at the 2013 session of the Arkansas Gen- eral Assembly just finished. No doubt we could say they were “pressure prompted” to devise a plan to allow about 250,000 low-income, unin- sured Arkansans the use of federal Medicaid funds to purchase private health insurance. Tey were pressure prompted to do some other things as well – such as approving a $125 million bond issue for a proposed $1.1 billion steel mill to bolster economic development in the state. I’m not being overly critical of state government for being “pressure prompted” because counties do the same thing. Tey don’t do things that need to be done un- til the pressures are so great they don’t have much choice. And, even then some do not have the will to do the right thing. Have you ever been in those meetings when the question is asked, “If this is the right thing to do, why weren’t you pursuing it before the current crisis?” Tat’s a good question. Te real answer is not usually given. Te answer normally given is that up until recently we weren’t faced with many of the pressures that exist today. We find ourselves in a situation that demands change due to economic constraints and a heightened awareness of government services on the part


COUNTY LINES, SPRING 2013


of the constituency. Te real answer is that if we were properly doing our jobs we would


have planned for what we saw and knew was coming – we would carpe diem!


Carpe diem is a phrase from a Latin poem by Quintus Horatius Flac- cus, more widely known as Horace that has become an aphorism. Te concise statement of principle in that Latin phrase is “seize the day.” Te underlying concept is that we should live in and enjoy the present and that one should not leave to chance future happenings but rather one should do all one can today to make one’s future better. In other words, as leaders in government we should use our intellectual capacity to contem- plate and plan for the future. Tat is part and parcel in seizing the day!


What in the world have I tried to convey to you? My message is: n Don’t be as discombobulated as me, the walrus and the carpenter! n Don’t get caught up in the troubling use of “politically correct” ter-


minology. Just say what you mean and mean what you say – always being considerate of others views and feelings. Almost anything can be said in a direct and plain manner as long as you use a little skill and grace. Civility


goes a long way in getting your point across to others. n If you must embrace some “politically correct” term – try our “taken out of its politically correct context” term “pressure-prompted.” Even when it becomes easier to try to maintain the status quo continue to put pressure on yourself to stay on the forefront of strategy and good government. We should not wait for outside forces to cause us to be “pressure-prompted.” We can more effectively control our own destiny, increase public value and fulfill our mission of public service when we move forward on our own terms. Choose for your county to be pressure- prompted, but choose your own pressures before your pressures are chosen for you.


Tings do change whether we like it or not. We should no longer be


sweeping dirt floors. Tat time has passed. I believe leadership for solving the big stuff can be found in county government officials. Let’s throw away the brooms, quit sweeping dirt floors, bring in the lumber and build some new floors. Carpe diem!


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