Make It Stop: "In These Tough Economic Times"

Are we in a recession? A depression? Experts may differ, but here's something we can all agree on: in these tough economic times, the last thing we want to hear, ever again, is the phrase "in these tough economic times." Sadly, the mainstream media—and if you consult Google, yes, NEWSWEEK is probably guilty, too—can't get enough of it. Actually, we did Google it, and this year alone, the nation's 50 biggest newspapers have used the phrase more than 2,500 times. That's a fivefold jump over the same period in 2008. Aside from its crushing banality (we can handle a more nuanced diagnosis, thank you) and its phony compassion (cue the knowing sigh), the phrase is simply lazy—a needless restatement of the obvious. And we've already got a more tidy, colorful cliché for that: it's the economy, stupid.

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