For Yoruba, press 6

January 30th, 2017 Posted by On Our Mind 4 comments

We were living in Washington State at a time when popular culture decided that loggers were one of the greatest threats to society. Good men lost good jobs as media and politicians treated them with disdain. Exhibit number 3,295 in why I think our government is out of control recently came in the mail. I received a six page insurance statement. One of the pages, on both sides, told me in twelve languages that I was entitled to have the statement translated. Somehow, I don’t think the insurance company decided on their own that it was a good business decision to ask me if I wanted to read what it has to say in Tagalog, Russian, Bengali or Farsi. I feel the heavy hand of government here. Now, I know people who do speak some of those languages and who might prefer to read a statement in their native language. But does every subscriber need to get a page with that information each time the company sends any notice to them? How many trees are cut down because of ludicrous government paperwork? Is it more or fewer than the number of men who lost their jobs because the same people who demand that their Congressional representatives support this ridiculous language policy also had scorn and derision for loggers?

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4 comments

Tom Roden says:

You have hit upon one of my pet peeves. As an employer, I am forced to post certain things for my employees to read. It is written on all of these government publications that I must post them in English and Spanish. I refuse to do it. And if asked, I will reply that I refuse to hire anyone who doesn’t speak and read English. It isn’t a matter of xenophobia or prejudice but rather a matter of commerce and safety.
By the way, thank you for dinner. It was one of the most enjoyable evenings of my life. The conversation was fantastic and the food was great. I only wish I had taken another piece of cake.

Susan Lapin says:

There is one slice of chocolate cake left! But it probably won’t be there by the morning. We very much enjoyed having you at our Shabbat table and are grateful to the friends who brought you. You are right, of course, that the government doesn’t seem to care if your business might be less successful because co-workers can’t communicate well with each other or with customers.

Lynn Perrizo says:

Good morning Susan,
Should we have a National Language? I think so. I know qualified people who have lost an opportunity for a job because they didn’t speak Spanish. A hundred years ago, people who came here strived hard to learn English. It was a given. They were in America. I remember my German grandmother telling me that her father never allowed them to speak anything but English at the dinner table. His schoolage children were helping him learn English. I don’t know who said this, but it certainly makes sense, “Immigration without assimilation is invasion.” We cannot have a society that can’t communicate to one another. Things are so mixed up in America right now. Where or where has common sense gone?

Susan Lapin says:

I think there is a big difference as individuals being welcoming to foreigners who struggle with English and the government making policies that suggest that English is optional or schools actually hinder learning English in the name of compassion.

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