Obama Signs Executive Order to Cut 'SCHWAG' not 'SWAG'
Obama's well-intended waste-cutting order gets lost in word confusion
Yesterday Obama signed another executive order for his "We Can't Wait" series, this one aimed at cutting out government wasteful spending in areas like travel, cellphone bills and ... "swag." Yup, according to The Washington Post and Politico, Obama wants federal employees to quit with all the "swag."
Our first thoughts: Hold up, federal employees can't have confidence anymore? They have to walk around with low self-esteem? We know the words "swag" and "swagger" are kinda played out now, but Obama is trying to regulate slang now?
Then we read the articles. Obama wasn't talking about "swag" the way Tyler the Creator or Soulja Boy Tell 'Em talks about it. In fact, Obama never mentions "swag" in his executive order nor in his remarks where he explains his executive order.
But the Politico and WaPo articles use the word "swag" rather than the more often used "schwag" to reference promotional items -- those pens, notebooks, excessive brochures and corny has and visors passed out at expos and conventions, making it hard to board your plane afterward because your luggage is now overloaded with the stuff. In other words, it's the "schwag" Obama wants to cut back on, not "swag."
From Politico: "On Wednesday, Obama signed an executive order that will direct government agencies to, among other things, 'stop using taxpayer dollars to buy swag,'" quoting the president's press secretary.
WaPo quoted Angela Levy of the Federal Judicial Center as saying: “Office swag, fancy dinners and lunches aren’t as rampant as those outside the federal government would think, at least in my experience."
It's obvious that we these people are referring to is not "swag," which by Merriam-Webster's definition is at best "a pack of personal belongings," and, at worst, "goods acquired by unlawful means." We're sure Obama's executive order doesn't refer to people's personal stuff, nor some stolen loot, but reporters and headline writers for Politico and WaPo seem to be confused about the difference between those terms.
In either event, federal employees seem to be pissed about having to cut back on the cutbacks -- not so much on the schwag, but on the other things since they've cut back enough.
Said Steve Meacham, a Farm Service Agency employee in an e-mail to The Washington Post, his agency already “has removed every other light bulb in the halls, consolidated office space, barely heats the space enough to keep pipes from freezing, has cut cleaning to the bone (creating a vermin problem), and leaves many employees to purchase their own office supplies.”
Whew, that's not what we would call pretty boy swag.