Subtle but uncharitable shifts in the verbal characterization of an opponent’s position violate basic principles of rational discourse. Wholesale terminological substitutions meant to achieve a similar result are simply dishonest. And so today George Will writes:

>GM has been forced to allow product development, pricing and other decisions to be driven by the need to keep sufficient revenue flowing in so it can flow out in fulfillment of GM’s function as a *welfare state*.

One has to wonder whether “welfare state” is the proper term for characterizing contractual obligations to employees. But Will uses it three times, so he certainly thinks it is appropriate. Here it is again:

>Herb Stein, the University of Chicago economist who served as chairman of President Richard Nixon’s Council of Economic Advisers, famously said: If something cannot go on forever, it won’t. Delphi’s resort to bankruptcy and GM’s attempt, with the cooperation of the UAW, to avoid, for now, doing that, suggest that America’s welfare state — its private sector as well as its public-sector components — is reaching its Herb Stein Moment.

It might also be observed by some that the benefits afforded by those lucky enough to have a GM job far exceed those available to “welfare” recipients, so the term is not only inappropriate (as it suggests that the typical GM worker does nothing to earn these literal (not social) contractual benefits) but inaccurate (the benefits are more extensive). A titillating use of the term “welfare,” perhaps, but question-begging to anyone with a conservative view of language.