The Rules of the Game

Good morning. Yesterday’s quote was clinical psychologist and bestselling author Jordan Peterson on the expansive universe of books. Today UI claims fall slightly; a brief lesson in grammar; and ProPublica published private tax returns. Here is today’s quote:

The ProPublica story is a long argument that somehow the rich don’t pay enough. The timing here is no coincidence, comrade.

Jobs Report

Initial UI benefit claims fell 9,000 to 376,000 claims in the week ending June 5. The prior week was left unrevised. Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Kentucky all jumped more than 3,000 claims week-over-week. On the other side of the ledger, Texas was the only State to shed more than 3,000 initial UI benefit claims. The full, detailed DOL report can be found here.

Media Spotlight

The phrase “so-called” is used to signal that the following phrase is at odds with what its name might otherwise imply. For example, the so-called Federal Reserve is “so-called” because it is neither a Federal agency in the United States government, or possess any reserves like the US Treasury does. This is lost on the writers at the New York Times, however. In yesterday’s newsletter, David Leonhardt lamented the facts in the ProPublica story (detailed below): “A central reason that very wealthy people can avoid taxes is that the U.S. system taxes only so-called realized gains….” His implication being that there are unrealized gains that are actually realized and should be taxed as such. In essence, Leonhardt believes that you ought to pay taxes on borrowed funds such as mortgages, student loans, etc. But that is not how the phrase “so-called” operates. Rather, the implication is that some of the realized gains are not truly “realized.” Without knowing the tax-and-spend tendencies of the NYT—having just read the words on the page—the reader is left thinking that the rich should pay less under the tax code.

Politics

ProPublica, a publicly funded website that promotes progressive causes, released private tax returns from some of the richest Americans. This happened in one of three ways: the several accounting firms needed to produce those returns banded together to leak that information; they leaked their own returns; or the IRS leaked it internally. In other words: this is probably illegal and likely implicates the IRS in another abuse-of-power scandal. They claim this story came about “anonymously”—let’s suppose that’s true. President Biden is looking to push the largest tax increase since 1968 (as a % share of the economy) and just hit a wall with West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin. This story will nudge the conversation towards the side that argues the rich do not pay their “fair share.” Whether this was ProPublica’s criminality or an inside job at the Internal Revenue Service, this so-called “leak” was anything but.

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