Capital / Capitol OffensesWritten by Tim Higgins | | firstname.lastname@example.org
One of the most confusing things about writing can be the right and proper use of words. We’ve all been confronted with the challenge of there, their, and they’re; and in our haste, perhaps even used the wrong one in a sentence. As tricky as this can be however, trickier still can be the uses of capital and capitol for those of us who write about politics.
Capitol, for those who can’t be bothered to look it up, came from the Capitoline Hill in Rome. While the smallest of the seven that made Rome, it was the center of both politics and religion in the great city and featured it’s principle temple (Jupiter’s), and the Tabularium, in which Rome’s state records were kept. The modern use contains two different uses as well. Used with a lower case beginning (though not always), it defines a building used by a state legislature. Used with an upper case beginning, it normally means the building used by the national legislature in DC.
Adding to the confusion however, is another very similar word ‘capital’. Capital can therefore be used to define a state’s official seat of government (you know, where the capitol would be) or Washington DC (where the Capitol would be). It can also be used to describe the prominence of a city in a field, as by saying: “Washington could be considered the power and corruption capital of the United States”. If all that isn’t confusing enough, capital can also be used to describe the wealth of an individual, corporation, or government.
So for example, when someone in the news talks (like they seem to endlessly these days) about ‘Sequestration’; one can’t help but ask whether they’re talking about the result of inability of those who work in the Capitol to agree to an annual budget, the meaningless ‘posturing’ by by both political parties in the nation’s capital of something they once agreed to, but cannot now seem to even agree to disagree on, or an epic distraction created by politicians on either side of the aisle to describe what’s less than two percent reduction in the growth of capital spending by this nation.
When members of both Houses in our nation’s capital are so concerned about what they’ve now described as the impending ‘Doom of Sequestration’ that they … take a vacation; is shirking their fiscal responsibilities wrong because they’re leaving the Capitol in the capital, or ignoring their obligations to the responsible spending of capital in this country.
What shall we call it when legislators in every State Capitol in every State capital around the nation are forced by the Constitutions of their States to not only produce a budget, but make it one which is at least in theory is balanced; but those working in the Upper House in the Capitol (the Senate) in the nation’s capital can ignore their own legal responsibilities of even passing a budget for over three years? What shall we call the behavior of both parties in both Houses of the Capitol who sit in our nation’s capital and continue spending over 30 percent more of the nation’s capital than they are given in way of revenue, without even an agreed upon plan to spend it by? How shall we view their irresponsibility and failure to assist in growing the nation’s capital in any way that would lead to meaningful job growth in this country; while instead using their power to grow the number of drones and bureaucrats in the nation’s capital involved creating and enforcing the very rules and regulations that stifle any such growth in capital.
You can therefore begin to see my confusion and my dilemma. No matter how one would like to be able to distinguish them, every offense committed in the Capitol is is not only by definition, an offense that occurs in the nation’s capital; but is likely to also have a negative impact on not only the nation’s capital, but our personal capital as well. So too, the consistent waste of capital generated through taxes on the local, state, and national level on a constant stream of self-aggrandizing, pointless, or simply wasteful spending is invariably a capital / capitol offense on far too many levels to consider.
Then again, why should the legislators have any concern. Long term service in the nation’s capital is one of the best ways for anyone to accumulate personal capital. Besides, the capital offenses and Capitol offenses that they commit in our nation’s capital are not considered to be the the kinds of capital offenses that would make someone subject to the potential threat of capital punishment.