There were three things we didn't let our kids say when they were growing up: hate, shut up and bored.
Hate was off limits because the word is poison. Shut up was banned because it is rude. Bored was taboo because there was no reason for kids who had toys and board games and a big backyard to ever be bored.
The rule was, if one of the kids said he or she was bored, I would find something for that child to do. The oldest once said he was bored and found himself wielding a toilet brush. He subsequently found he was able to entertain himself and never said the word within earshot again.
The youngest was in second grade and had a friend over to play. The friend wandered into the kitchen, whined that she couldn't find anything to do and began to say, "I'm b-" whereupon, the youngest slapped her hand over the girl's mouth and said, "Oh, you never want to say that around my mom!"
Our list of banned words was completely arbitrary. It is almost a silly thing, but the words we use reveal something about who we are and how we see the world.
There was another word, a phrase really, that was unacceptable: filthy rich. To call someone filthy rich is demeaning - not to the rich, but to the one who uses the label.
It is transparent envy. But envy and jealousy have come into style of late. Class envy may be the consummate way to "go green."
Despising people of wealth and wishing for their financial demise is officially in vogue. Being jealous of what others have, or wanting them to lose what they have, doesn't change circumstances of the less rich one iota. All envy does is scramble your brain.
There is an old joke about a peasant with one cow who loathes his neighbor because he has two. A sorcerer grants the envious farmer one wish. The farmer bellows, "Kill one of my neighbor's cows!"
We also banned "filthy rich" because it betrays an ignorance of economics.
Two miles from our home, a large, rambling gated estate is under construction. Last week there were 10 workers pushing wheelbarrows filled with dirt, landscaping the grounds. Suppose seven of those 10 are married and that five of those have at least two kids. That's 27 people being fed by the filthy rich we now despise.
Those landscapers, along with contractors, sub-contractors, architects, interior designers, painters, plumbers, tile setters, bricklayers and electricians will likely be paid sometime soon. Chances are they and their families will spend some of that money at our area strip malls, gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants.
The three sprawling terraces surrounding this manse will likely host spectacular parties that will require caterers, a wait staff, event planners, musicians, bartenders, drivers, and private security. The parties may also mean shopping trips and appointments at the spa.
Property taxes on the joint will be outrageous - and will fund our schools and libraries.
And because they have an outrageous amount of money (defined as anything more than I have) they ignite resentment and discontent and we clamor for them to be taxed and taxed hard.
So then, siphon it off. It's high time they feel the hurt. Table the construction. Let the builders go, send the workers home. Return the furniture and the appliances and cancel the parties.
We'll show them, won't we?