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W is king of reclassification
by Lenore Skenazy
New York Daily News
February 25
, 2004

Flipping burgers for a living? Heck no - those folks are manufacturing edible infrastructure, according to the Bush administration.

Yes, the same administration that promised to deliver us 2.6 million new jobs - and then scaled that back to, uh, "I'm not a statistician" - has come up with a more foolproof way of creating jobs: Just reclassify the old ones.

That's why Bush's chief economist, Gregory Mankiw, suggested last week that dead-end fast-food jobs be reclassified as far more uplifting "manufacturing jobs." His argument, perhaps made under the influence of a fermented shake, was that burger makers are constructing entire sandwiches with their bare (or, we hope, latex-gloved) hands. And if that's not manufacturing, what is?

Come to think of it - Mankiw has a manufacturing job, too. He's manufacturing a robust economy out of whole cloth!

This reclassification trick is something the Republicans have had a lot of experience with. It was Ronald Reagan's administration, after all, that came up with the ingenious way of making sure kids got enough vegetables in their school lunches: Just reclassify ketchup as a vegetable.

More recently, the Bush administration took it upon itself to cover a factory's worth of "Made in China" merchandise with "Made in America" stickers, right before a press conference. This effectively reclassified offshore manufacturing jobs as good ol' American jobs. So simple!

The war in Iraq was reclassified as a war against Saddam Hussein instead of a war to protect us from weapons of mass destruction, once those WMD were MIA. And to assure us this was a "mission accomplished," the President flew onto an aircraft carrier that had to be kept at sea an extra day - and turned around - to make it look as if he had no choice but to fly out to meet it. Thus a trip made solely for dramatic purposes was reclassified as a trip of necessity.

What can the Bushies reclassify next? Some ideas:

* Tax breaks for the rich. That would be a very bad choice of words, George. And whatever you do, don't say these staggering breaks are ballooning our deficit. Reclassify them as "economic stimulators."

Ooops. I'm sorry. You already did that.

* Large-scale tree massacre. Can't call it that. Allowing for more logging on public land should be reclassified as ... hmmm. How about a "Healthy Forests" program?

Oh wait. You've done that already, too. You are so ahead of me!

* Pollution-palooza! Allowing factories to duck environmental controls should definitely be called something else. How about the "Clear Skies Initiative?"

Oh darn. You got to that one first, too!

So maybe there's nothing left for you to reclassify. Except - wait! What about the words "compassionate" and "conservative"?

After all, way back when, "compassion" meant reaching out to the less fortunate, not succoring the captains of industry. And "conservative" meant a person who wanted to keep things they way they are, not chop them down, pollute them for eternity and create huge new piles of debt.

So I'd say that is a perfect reclassification project for you, Mr. Bush.

In the meantime, I believe the Democrats will be working on a reclassification of your job, too: From "commander in chief" to "senior-level manufacturer in charge of bun preparation."

Posted: February 28, 2004


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