President Bush may not be remembered as a linguistic innovator. But in the tradition of classifying ketchup as a vegetable, a classic from the Reagan era, the Bush Administration may leave a rich legacy of redefining terms for regulatory purposes. Perhaps you thought a wild fish is one hatched in the wild. You would be mistaken, according to Bush's environmental stewards. Under a new plan, the distinction between farm-bred salmon, which are later released into rivers and streams, and their cousins hatched in the wild will be removed. That will instantly raise the overall tally of salmon--and make it more probable that the government will eliminate or downgrade protections for 15 salmon species now sheltered under the Endangered Species Act. Such a change is favored by power and timber companies, whose development plans have been stymied by the government's protective net. Environmentalists complain that the action will jeopardize the survival of wild salmon.
It's hardly the first example of the Administration's creative wordplay. A recent report by Bush's economic team questioned whether burger-flipping jobs, now part of the service sector, ought to be reclassified as manufacturing jobs, a change that would have enabled the White House to claim that manufacturing-job losses aren't as bad as they look. That idea appears to have died. Bush's Labor Department also wants to allow employers to reclassify some middle-income workers as white collar managers, rendering them ineligible for overtime pay. Bush's Energy Department, meanwhile, wants to reduce the cost of disposal for millions of gallons of radioactive waste by switching the designation of some material from "high-level" to "low-level." At least the Administration isn't proposing to reclassify relish. Yet.
--By Daren Fonda