New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - November 1, 1983, New Braunfels, Texas
4 New Braunfels Herald-Ze/ftyn<7 Tuesday, November 1,1983
Dave Kraut, General Manager ■<
James J. Kilpatrick'Persuade'vs. 'convince': there's a difference
The argument over "persuade” and ‘convince” has been going on forever, and those writers who cannot be persuaded to preserve a distinction will remain convinced that no distinction exists. I am crotchety on the point, and would beg your indulgence.
From the Washington Post: "If Venezuela can convince its banks to convert many of the short-term debts to long-term loans ...” Wrong!
From People magazine: "Pianist Manan McPartland. who entertained on the same bill with Phyllis Diller, convinced the comedienne to take out her horn and join the jazz trio ...” Wrong!
Again, from People-. "The critical acclaim following his recent performance of Beethoven’s ‘Triple Concerto’ at Carnegie Hall has convinced Dudley Moore to cut his first classical LP.” Wrong!
F rom U. S News * World Report, in a piece about lobbyist Thomas Boggs: "He is often credited with helping convince Congress to grant a loan guarantee to Chrysler in 1979.” Wrong!
Again, from the same Sept. 19 issue of U S News, a speculation that the death of Sen Henry- Jackson, on top of the stress resulting from Lebanon and from the Korean airliner incident, "will convince the president and his
wife that they don’t need four more years of high pressure.” Right! This time U.S. News got it right!
This is the rule, to which such authorities as Follett, Bernstein, Copperud and the American Heritage panel subscribe: “Persuade” may take an infinitive: “convince” never should. Wilson Follett is emphatic: “We can convince a person that a statement is correct: (though we can persuade) him to believe it or to act on the belief.”
Theodore Bernstein offers this explanation: “Convince” has the meaning of to satisfy beyond doubt by-argument or evidence appealing to the reason. ‘Persuade’ has the
meaning of to induce or win over by-argument or entreaty appealing to the reason and feeling.” Thus, “convince" implies a static situation, with no consequent action expected. By contrast, “persuade” carries a meaning of continuing action and usually implies further action to come.
Looking back at the examples: “If Venezuela can persuade its banks to convert” ... “McPartland persuaded the comedienne to take out her horn” ... “The critical acclaim persuaded Moore to cut” or "convinced Moore that he should cut” ... “Boggs is often credited with helping persuade Congress."
The only authority who spurns the rule. so far as I know, if Professor John Bremner of the University of Kansas. In a moment of uncharacteristic permissiveness, Bremner says that “convince to” is now •accepted." We should persuade him to change his mind; if we are successful, he may be convinced that he should sin no more.
Verb of the week: “to cowboy,” from a piece in The Seattle Times about women in pioneer days. Some women were homemakers; some were political activists. “Other women went cowboying or homesteading by themselves.”
Adjectives of the week: "Bir-
dieable,” as in, “The 17th hole at the British Open is birdieable.” Also, “Ovenable,” as in a recipe from Maple Leaf Farms: “Leave portion in ovenable tray.”
Redundanceies of the week: From Time magazine, in a story about bad weather: “For farmers, such talk is not idle chitchat.” From Newsweek'. “Take the old adage that good hitter watch the ball all the way to the catcher’s glove.” Perhaps Time’s editors will engage in chatchat that is not idle, and perhaps Newsweek’s editors will find adages that are not old, and perhaps pigs will take wing and fly - but I wouldn’t bet on the prospects.
Firm's overcharges, 'wining and dining,' still covered up
Electric company uses Rooney column; utility-haters abuse Rooney, column
A year ago. I reported that a Defense Department auditor had blown the whistle on improprieties by a major defense contractor — and was being punished for his disclosures. Not only did the Pentagon brass do nothing to correct the abuses, they harassed the honest investigator and tried to force him out of his job.
The unsung hero was George Spanton, a respected career auditor with the Defense Contract Audit Agency. He spent years ferreting out waste and mismanagement in the defense establishment w ithout getting into trouble.
Then he was assigned to keep an expert eye on Air Force contracts with Pratt Hi Whitney — and the roof fell in on him. My associates Donald Goldberg and Indy Badhwar have pieced together more of the story.
Spaniel discovered that Pratt & Whitney was overcharging the Air Force for spare parts that could be purchased only from the company . He reported excessive labor costs and complained of serious difficulty in gaming access to the company’s files
All that was embarrassing enough But then Spanton cornmuteed the unforgivable offense: On Feb. ll, 1982. he wrote a memo questioning Pratt & Whitney’s lavish wining and dining of government officials, some of whom were rn a position to look the other way when the company overcharged the taxpayers
Spanton found that Pratt A Whitney play ed the generous host to * highranking military and civilian personnel, including generals, admirals, congressmen, Air Force test pilots and other DOD employ ees ”
At the very least, this entertainment was a violation of Defense Department regulations — by both Pratt & Whitney and the freeloading employees who accepted the company s lai gesse.
Spanton knew his memo would touch some raw nerves in high places. So he wasn't surprised when, on July 7, l'i82, he was visited by John Batson, a special agent in the Defense Criminal Investigative Service Batson informed Spanton that he was the subject of a criminal investigation
Unfortunately for the vengeful authorities, Batson — like Spanton — is an honest cop After an exhaustive investigation, Batson filed a report that said All significant leads have been followed and available evidence does not indicate that Spanton was involved in any criminal activity...”
Batson not only gave Spanton a clean bill of health, he also confirmed the auditor’s charges. Batson reported that rn the period from 1978 to 1980 Pratt & Whitney had spent at least $500,000 entertaining government officials
At this tune, the matter has also been investigated by the FBI and the Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations, and evidence is now in the hands of a grand jury. Pratt & Whitney vigorously disputes all charges of wrongdoing.
Meanwhile, the big brass have tried
unsuccessfully- to force Spanton into retirement or get hun to accept a transfer that would have gotten hun out of Pratt it Whitney’s hair. The fact. too. was dutifully reported by Batson.
Sen. Charles Grassley, H-Iowa. is planning hearings on the Spanton case. He wrote Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger: “We must
reward the George Spantons of the world and punish those who muzzle him.”
Weinberger’s response was ambiguous: * I know you share my view that no one should be disciplined or removed on the basis of unverified rumors.” Did he mean Spanton — or his persecutors'1
Footnote; Government employees w ho have stories to tell but want their identities protected can contact Whistleblowers Anonymous, Box 2300. Washington, D C 20013. No onw will blame them for wishing to avoid the harassments that Spanton has gone through
Whopper of the week
For political reasons, Treasury Secretary Donald Began is stoutly insisting there’s no evidence that huge federal deficits drive interest rales up
It’s a contention that files rn the face
of conventional wisdom — to say nothing of contracting the view ardently held by President Reagan’s conservative backers and some of the Treasury’s own economists.
The trouble is that the ad-iiunistraiion is coming under fire from the Democrats ■ and even White House economist Martin Feldsteim, who want to lower the deficits even if it means raising taxes And tax increases are anathema to Reagan's hard-core supporters
So Regan ordered a study prepared Though some of the economists who worked on it regard deficits as harmful, they obediently reported that there is no historical evidence linking deficits and interest rates.
The reason deficits drive interest rates up is that they force the government to compete with home buyers and businessmen for the limited amount of money available for borrowing
Under the Dome
After more than two years in office, wheelchair-bound Sen. John Ease, R-N.C., has no complaints about the Capitol’s provision for the handicapped His wheelchair fits between the seats of the Senate subway and a freight elevator is handy. A wheelchair lift was installed at one end of the Senate chamber for East’s convenience And the marble floors — instead of carpeting — make it easier for him to get around.
- Sen. Pete Wilson, R-Calif., doesn’t think much of the echo effect noticeable in the new Hart Senate Office Building. He says the echoes are unnerving, "even for us senators, who like to hear ourselves talk.”
A columnist has a wonderful opportunity to make a fool of himself in public and many of us frequently use it. Unlike most people, a writer’s work is out in the open where everyone can see it. People not only read it. they can cut it out, read it’ again the next day and save it in their pockets to show to friends.
Several months ago I wrote a column saying that electric power was a better buy than almost any thing else we spend our money on “Maybe,” I said jokingly at the end of the column, "The electric company-wili read this and offer to give us one month free.”’
Well, I didn't get a month’s free electricity but I was instantly adopted as the utility companies’ spokesman.
Since I wrote the column, it has been reprinted rn more than IOO power company pamphlets and distributed with their bills. This is now way for a writer to make friends “If you need money that much,” one reader wrote, “why don’t you sell blood?”
“Greed, misuse of ratepayer's funds, incompetence and lack of integrity are all part of nuclear supports’ stock-in-trade,” Mr and Mrs. Charles Hocker wrote The fact that I’d never mentioned nuclear power and that nuclear power had nothing to do with the article didn t stop the Hockers from disliking me for being nice to the power companies.
It turns out that there are a lot of people in this country who make hating their local utility company a full-time job. A doctor rn Harrisburg wrote me an angry letter say ing that he pays $1,200 a month for electricity. I called the power company there and they knew the doctor well. He’d been complaining to them for years. The spokesman admitted the doctor's bill was high and he couldn’t explain it He said that his company had offered to go into the doctor’s home and office and check things out for a possible short circuit that could have been consuming power, but that the doctor wouldn’t let them in.
I have no knowledge or opinion of the case beyond that, but I was surprised at how many power-company -hating nuts there are out there. I’ve hated a few power companies myself in my time, but you have to do something else with your life. There s just so much lune you can spend complaining about any bill before you pay it and proceed with other matters.
I am, nonetheless, very embarrassed about the use of my column by the power companies and never would have allowed it to happen had I known They all did it properly, though.
They got pernusston from the Tribune Company Syndicate and paid anywhere from $35 to $125 for reprint rights, so I can’t complain, but I can wish it had never been done. In every case it was used as if I had been paid to write it as an advertisement for them. I’m not in that business.
People in the news business write so many negative stories that readers get tired of them. When a story is negative, though, there's seldom any
question about the reporter's integrity. A favorable article is more suspect If a food writer likes a restaurant, you wonder if he paid for the meal. You're not suspicious if the review is bad.
It ought to be just as permissible for me to say some specific good things about a product or an organization as it is for me to complain about one.
Our electric bill at home has almost doubled since I wrote that column and I'm at a loss to understand why. Why did it cost us $42 for electricity in July when we were not home for a single day? I’m not changing my opinion, though, that electricity is still cheap compared to most things we buy.
I explain the $42 with the two anti-burgler light bulbs we left burning (as if they fooled anyone) and in spite of being embarrassed to be included with your power company bill. I'm not going to return the money the utility companies paid to reprint my column. I'm just going to pay my new, higher electricity bills with it for a while.
Gov. Mark Whit# Governor* Office Room 200 State Capitol Austin, Taxes 78701
San. John Tower United States Senate Room 142 Russell Building Washington, D.C. 20510
Sen. Lloyd Bentsen United States Senate Room 240 Russell Building Washington, D.C. 20510
San. John Traagar Texas Senate Capitol Station Austin, Texas 78711