BUDGET CUTS THAT BARELY SCRATCH THE SURFACE are not “Draconian.” Did Draco even cut budgets? I think his interest lay elsewhere. And do the people calling these cuts “Draconian” have any idea who he was?
Etymology is a hobby of mine but I realized I didn’t know the derivation of “Draconian.” That hole in my knowledge was easily corrected by the Online Etymology Dictionary which says that “Draconian” derives from:
1876 (earlier Draconic, implied from 1640s), from Draco, Greek statesman who laid down a code of laws for Athens 621 B.C.E. that mandated death as punishment for minor crimes. His name seems to mean lit. “sharp-sighted” (see dragon)
… and “dragon” itself derives from:
early 13c., from O.Fr. dragon, from L. draconem (nom. draco) “huge serpent, dragon,” from Gk. drakon (gen. drakontos) “serpent, giant seafish,” apparently from drak-, strong aorist stem of derkesthai “to see clearly,” from PIE *derk- “to see.” Perhaps the lit. sense is “the one with the (deadly) glance.” The young are dragonets (14c.). Obsolete drake “dragon” is an older borrowing of the same word. Used in the Bible to translate Heb. tannin “a great sea-monster,” and tan, a desert mammal now believed to be the jackal.
… so, “draconian” spending cuts are “clear sighted” cuts.
Sounds good to me. Who would have guessed the Democrats thought so highly of the wisdom of cutting government spending? I guess the Democrats’ ever-so-superior intellects led them to use a classical allusion that confused us lesser mortals.