The older I grow, the more wisdom I see in the Confucian dictum that the correct use of words is the key to the restoration of the health of a polity.
During the recent Irish financial crisis, for example, a French official described the Irish tax on company profits as almost predatory. What did he mean by this? That the Irish state, perhaps, was taking 70, 80, or 90 percent of a companys annual profits?
No, he meant that Irelands tax rate was 12.5 per centthat is to say, just over a third of that in countries such as France and Germany. As a result of this almost Tyrannosaurian predation, many companies wanting to invest in Europe had chosen to do so in Ireland.
Is it not a strange world in which predation means refraining from taking from others what is rightfully theirs and putting it into your own pocket? Look, then, at all those terrible predators on the street who so unscrupulously fail to relieve us of our wallets when we walk among them! As for those predatory German firms that make better products than anybody else, words fail me to describe their sheer dishonesty!
Theodore Dalrymple, a physician, is a contributing editor of City Journal, the Dietrich Weismann Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and author of Not with a Bang but a Whimper and other books.