But why all these new words? Why not the old, familiar, comforting words?
It's because a healthy vocabulary isn't about changing city seals by the random spin of the economic dishevelment director's rickety wheel.
To the contrary: It's about selecting the right word and using it correctly, whatever one's pay grade or station in life.
Even municipal corporate attorneys whose astronomical take from the public teat never make the newspaper's spotty record are eligible for this enlightening expansion of personal horizons, and really, for those of us who want nothing more than to understand why we must pay legions of Louisvillians to do what locals can do on their own, all we have is time -- and the opportunity to learn something.
Today's word is extortionate. It's an adjective, but let's begin with the noun.
1. an act or instance of extorting.
2. Law. the crime of obtaining money or some other thing of value by the abuse of one's office or authority.
3. oppressive or illegal exaction, as of excessive price or interest: the extortions of usurers.
4. anything extorted.
1. grossly excessive; exorbitant: extortionate prices.
2. characterized by extortion, as persons: extortionate moneylenders.
Oppressive, excessive and exorbitant -- and what's more, when we use "extortion" and "extortionate," an absence of choice is implied. After all, an extortionate money lender's target market is populated by those lacking other options, perhaps folks with bad credit ratings who cannot borrow funds conventionally.
Another example of extortionate business practices is familiar to anyone who attends sporting events. A company like Centerplate directly pays the resident team for an exclusive, closed monopoly on food and drink in a stadium usually constructed at taxpayer expense, and voila: $10 Bud Lights. It should suffice to say that local indies rarely are able to compete on such a tilted playing field.
This week's sentence:
When I was told what the out-of-town production company expected local beer vendors to pay to play in terms of gross percentage, it struck me as extortionate, and I couldn't understand how the city organizing the event could allow it in good conscience.
Conscience ... there's another word for another time, although I believe it is expressly prohibited by ordinance in the city of New Albany.
By the way, in an entirely unrelated note, the city of New Albany has announced a resumption of Boomtown, to take place on May 29.