Thursday, October 01, 2020

The Forgotten

 I have mentioned it here before, but it seems like an excellent time to bring up the financial advice I once received from Steve Martin. He asked me, "Steve, how can I be a millionaire and never pay taxes?" He continued his sage wisdom: "First, get a million dollars. Now.. you say, 'Steve, what do I say to the tax man when he comes to my door and says, ‘You.. have never paid taxes?' Two simple words. Two simple words in the English language: 'I forgot!'”  

The New York Times reports that  "the president" paid no taxes in eleven of the eighteen years between 2000 and 2017. In both 2016 and 2017, he paid only seven hundred fifty dollars. Who knew that Donald Trump was such a big fan of Steve Martin? Or, rather, who would believe that the "president" of the United States could be so forgetful. 

I could. Like when he announced at his vaguely attended inaugural, “the forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.” This was just a little before he happily asserted to his friends at a holiday dinner at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, where the initiation fee is two hundred thousand dollars a year“You all just got a lot richer.” These were not the "forgotten men and women of our country." This was the crew that was also busily forgetting to tell the taxman that they had forgotten to pay taxes, reveling in their newly minted tax cuts. 

He may have also forgotten the tweet he made in 2012, disparaging President Obama's 20.5% tax rate. "@BarackObama who wants to raise all our taxes, only pays 20.5% on $790k salary. Do as I say not as I do." Al Gore's Internet did not forget. At that time, the argument was being made that the President of the United States should not be paying less in taxes each year than his secretary. Meanwhile, it is a mathematical certainty that 20.5% is 20.5% more than zero. It is also significant that President Obama released his tax returns, something the current "president" has "forgotten" to do.

In what might be referred to as the best case scenario, seven hundred fifty dollars a year in taxes would be somewhere in the neighborhood of a fifth of what this public school teacher paid. And already I can hear the chorus of those who continue to drink and sell the Kool-Aid the "president" is pushing: "That must means he's a good businessman." To which I can only point to Trump Steaks. Trump University. Trump Marina Hotel Casino. Trump Taj Mahal. Trump Plaza Casino and Hotel. Trump Airlines. The fact that this "president" is currently going through the country's economy much in the same way he managed his personal finances will not budge those who fail to see this connection. 

Or maybe they have seen it. They've just chosen to forget. 

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