We have housing czars, job czars, drug czars, all kinds of “czars” in our US government these days. Over 70 of them! There’s even a “Weatherization Czar” (Check out this article from Watertown Daily Times by Mark Heller. Or this one.) "Czar" is supposed to designate someone with leadership in an area of special emphasis by the president, which is okay, I guess. But the term bothered me even back in the olden days when Bill Bennett was President Regan’s “Drug Czar,” and I was in high school/college. Why? Well, word nerds, join me in the Webster’s New World College Dictionary.

First, “czar" is the title of the former emperors of Russia; we know how THAT turned out, though the communists who took over Russia from them and created the Soviet Union were no better, if not patently worse.

Second, it means “any person having great or unlimited power; autocrat.” Whoa! This is America, right?

Third, “czar” comes from the German kaiser, which came from the Latin word…


                     …are you on the edge of your seat?


                                            Drum roll….


Kind of obvious, if you think about it, word-wise.

Kind of gut-wrenching when you think of an American leader with the title of an ancient Roman emperor. Didn’t the Roman autocracy implode because of its dictatorial, imperialistic ways? Isn’t the Roman Empire a textbook example of how not to run a country, especially a democracy?

Just checking.

Can’t we come up with better terminology?

Word Nerd challenge: Other than czar, what could we call these American leaders who have been given a specific, limited area of responsibility, such as drugs, housing, jobs? I look forward to your comments and ideas!


By the way: Why are the Republicans NOT trying to get rid of such a waste of money as a Weatherization Czar? Just asking!