Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

An odd circumlocution illustrates how gently the wealthy are treated

with 2 comments

The short sentence (6 months in county jail instead of 6 years in state prison) handed down to the rapist Brock Turner and the Texas Attorney General’s decision some time back to drop the case against Trump and Trump University are just two examples of how in the US there is an attitude that the wealthy must be treated gently. I just encounted in the NY Times an even more obvious example.

In an article on the Panama Papers by Eric Lipton and Julie Cresswell, we get this statement: “For many of its American clients, Mossack Fonseca offered a how-to guide of sorts on skirting or evading United States tax and financial disclosure laws.”

Specifically, the use of “skirting or evading” instead of “breaking” struck me as peculiar. It’s as though the writers were at pains to avoid giving any offense to the wealthy, lawbreakers or not. Perhaps it simply reflects the attitudes of the (wealthy) owners of the NY Times.

In any event, I found the peculiar periphrasis worthy of note. They are not “skirting or evading” the law, they are breaking the law.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 June 2016 at 12:06 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Though I certainly agree that the wealthy are treated entirely differently, I think there is a shade of meaning here that is particularly common to tax law. “Skirting or evading” means adhering to the letter of the law, breaking only the spirit. These are folks who specialize in finding sometimes ingenious ways of getting around taxation — it’s technically legal, just unethical. Therefore “skirting or evading,” not actually breaking.


    6 June 2016 at 1:44 pm

  2. Aha! I think you are right. And yet, if you are right they are acting legally, why all the secrecy? And several of the stories seemed to be using “tax evasion” to refer to a crime: not paying taxes that are legally due.


    6 June 2016 at 1:54 pm

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