Can you imagine? A pizza shop owner who collects from customers – and pays out to employees – at least partly in cash that never makes it into official accountings and tax returns? And over a three year period might have shorted the government, by extremely strict and formal standards, some $29,000?
Is that “tax fraud”? I suppose it is. The government airs stories like this at this time of year to remind everyone that they have to file their tax returns and pay their taxes. And, you know, don’t cheat. The newspapers run the stories prominently, because they’re very comfortable at this point just being the government’s mouthpiece.
The double standard is so obvious you would think it could be stock verbiage that the newspaper just tacks on at the end, something along the lines of:
“Assistant US Attorney Marisa Miller (or the AUSA of the day – you know, fill in the blank) had no comment when asked why a pizza shop owner (or other mundane individual with no connections on Wall Street or K Street) has been prosecuted and is facing three years in prison over $29,000 when, to cite just one of many examples, $1.4 billion of depositors’ money appears to be “missing” from MF Global and yet no one faces or is likely ever to face prosecution over that.”
AUSA Miller (or the AUSA of the day) can then be spared the embarrassment of having to actually say ‘no comment’ since we know in advance that no further comment is necessary. The obvious and unarguable point having been succinctly made, further comment wouldn’t do any good either.
Then again, since no pointed questions are even asked of the government’s party line in the first place, no matter how flagrantly they suggest themselves, this may not be a concern at all. To be concerned, accuracy and truth in reporting would have to matter; but press outlets claim not to have any idea what truth or accuracy is (at least this was the opinion of a prominent editor at the New York Times, who famously and quite recently rejected any idea that journalists should be “truth vigilantes”; but that article and all references to it seem to have disappeared from the google search engine) other than reporting what the government puts out there.
Defining the ‘rule of law’ might be difficult, but ‘no double standard’ is at least a good start. Too bad we haven’t gotten that far.