The Great Depression Online

Great Depression Online Archive Issue:

The Endearing Irony of it All

Great Depression Online
Long Beach, CA
January 20, 2009

Inside This Issue You Will Discover…

*** Finding Humor in a World Long in the Face
*** Innocent and Honest Mistakes?
*** The Endearing Irony of it All
*** And More

“I haven't committed a crime.  What I did was fail to comply with the law.” -- David Dinkins, New York City Mayor, answering accusations that he failed to pay his taxes

Finding Humor in a World Long in the Face

With all the glum financial news of late we were beginning to think the world had lost its humor.  For with every new bailout, corporate failure, unemployment report, and Ponzi scheme the consequences seem to be bigger and more destructive than the last…each with a wider trail of casualties in its wake.

* “More Than 21,000 Jobs Worldwide Erased in a Day as Recession Chokes Demand”

* “Dow Averages May Fall to 6,000 Should 2008’s Low Be Pierced”

* “AARP Making Money, Losing Trust”

* “Drinking Seven Cups of Coffee a Day May Trigger Delusions”

These were just several headlines posted on Bloomberg over the weekend.  And with headlines like these, why read on?

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It was for this reason we were extraordinarily grateful for the good old-fashioned knee slapper of a story courtesy of Treasury Secretary nominee, Tim Geithner.  In particular, the revelation that the next Treasury Secretary’s had to come clean on some tax infractions. 

Innocent and Honest Mistakes?

So let’s take a moment, a diversion from all the long in the face news, to point a finger and snicker at what Geithner told the Senate Finance Committee was an “embarrassment.”  But before we begin we must define, what we believe to be ‘innocent’ and ‘honest mistakes.’

‘Innocent’ mistakes include leaving the toilet seat up, failure to remember your wedding anniversary, or things thereof.

‘Honest mistakes’ include backing into a Toyota hybrid vehicle in a crowded parking lot without malice aforethought.

With that out of the way we’ll defer to the New York Times…

“On Tuesday when Mr. Geithner’s failures were first reported by The Wall Street Journal, the Obama transition office issued a statement calling his underpayment of taxes ‘honest mistakes.’  On Wednesday, Mr. Obama himself said it was ‘innocent.’

“The just-the-facts report of Mr. Geithner’s tax transgressions, compiled and released by the Senate Finance Committee, paints a picture of noncompliance that is considerably more disturbing than his supporters are acknowledging.

“According to the report, when Mr. Geithner’s tax returns for 2003 and 2004 were audited by the I.R.S. in 2006, the auditors found that he had failed to pay self-employment tax in those years. To make good, he paid the back taxes, plus interest — $16,732.

“The story does not stop there. Mr. Geithner also failed to pay the self-employment tax in 2001 and 2002.

“A similar lapse occurred on another tax issue.  On returns for 2001, 2004 and 2005, Mr. Geithner wrongly claimed expenses for sleep-away camps in calculating his dependent care tax credit.”

The Endearing Irony of it All

We don’t fault Geithner for his tax transgressions…tax policy in this country is utter madness.  And whether his intentions were devious and evasive we’ll never know; nor do we really care.  Rather we just prefer to bask in the endearing irony of it all…

That the next Treasury Secretary’s been stiffing his future underlings…the Internal Revenue Service. 

Who knows, perhaps Geithner will lead the long overdue charge for tax reform while serving the high post.

In the meantime, his confirmation hearing should be quite the public spectacle.


M.N. Gordon
Great Depression Online

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