Thomas “Next Six Months” Friedman was on The Daily Show the other night. He proposed that a solution to American dependency on oil would be to slap an additional dollar of tax on each gallon of gasoline. When Jon Stewart asked how that would fly politically, Friedman suggested that the tax be called the “Patriot Tax” and that revenues from it be earmarked for Social Security. Also, lower income folks would qualify for tax rebates.
This is brilliant! If you rename taxes, folks might be happy to pay them. The federal estate tax isn’t a “death tax”; it’s the “Honor Thy Father and Mother Tax”. Let’s have no more talk of “income taxes”; rather, let’s pay “Love the Children Taxes”. FICA can be the “We Love Grandma Tax”. We will get all warm and fuzzy thinking about writing those tax checks once we rename the taxes. Politicians will be able to run on raising taxes.
The same thing goes for government agencies and programs. If we rename them, maybe folks will be more supportive of them. Let’s be sure to call every piece of legislation “family friendly”, especially if it puts the screws to families. This makes it easier to sell to constituents and provides legislators with a good laugh. Even military conscription should be marketable if we name it right. Let’s call it the “Strengthening America’s Young People Act” or the “Young People’s Free Travel and Cultural Exchange Program”.
Military operation names have been, in my opinion, unimaginative and crappy. “Enduring Freedom” doesn’t work at all. There’s no feel good factor, and it is even possible to find it ironic; so we need something that makes folks feel good about it and which is unassailable even when reality bites us on the ass. “Operation Wonderama” works for me. Or how about “Operation John Jacob Jingleheimerschmidt” or “Operation Boy Howdy”?
The illegal NSA spying doesn’t go down any easier if you call it a “Terrorist Surveillance Program”. Are you calling us all terrorists? Let’s call it the “We’re Looking Out for You Program” or the “We’ve Got Your Back Program” or some such thing.
When we rename things, the state starts to seem like fun.