Boggling

The other day we made the mistake of saying that a trillion-dollar national debt boggles the mind. A reader in Van Nuys, Calif., sent us a marginal note saying that "boggles is an intransitive verb, hence 'the mind boggles at the figure.'" This sent us, in turn, to the dictionary, which said that boggle is also a transitive verb, meaning "to confuse or overwhelm (the mind, the imagination, etc.)."

Without adjudicating between the reader and the dictionary, we suggest tighter policies to restrict the growth of the boggle supply in whatever form. Already so much boggle is in circulation that the value of boggle in real terms is only .0032 of what it was in 1968. At this rate, by next year boggle will reach complete devaluation and come out on the other side. And then where will Van Nuys be?

Indexing is not the answer. At least not with a CBI (Consumer Boggle Index) which so distorts the full estent of boggle in the marketplace. And especially not if both transitive and intransitive boggle are indexed, while those on fixed boggle have to support, in effect, those hwose boggle is unearned.

No, it is only through the daily self-discipline of individuals -- and newspapers -- that the expenditure of boggle can be reduced and the soundness of boggle be restored. One way to stop waste and inefficiency is to recognize that there is no longer anything mind-boggling about a trillion here and there.

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