Caveat Emptor

In a time of instantaneous communications that has become the era of twenty-second sound bites, 144 character messages and those enticing teasers of stay turned for the next bit of scandalous behavior, it would behoove us Dear Readers to take to heart the old Roman expression, “Caveat Emptor.” While translated it means ” Beware, he who buys” there are also Latin phrases for other things like “Audiens Cave,” “Legit Cave,” or “Videns Cave”. Those would be warnings to listeners, readers and watchers. Of course the operative word in all these phrases is “Cave”–“Beware.” And just as the ancients knew that people will often try to deceive you with various devices of word, thought and action so too will our modern media prestidigitators of thought and word.

Just today on Facebook there is a very professional scheme being perpetrated. It is a bogus sale for L.L. Bean products. The ad has pictures taken from legitimate L.L. Bean advertisements and when you click on it you get taken to a site that looks very much like L.L. Bean’s website. However, if you look closely at the language in the ordering, shipping and payment sections you will discover the company with which you are dealing is referred to as “Our.” I checked directly with L.L. Bean and discovered this was a well-designed and executed scam. But here is the kicker. I did this last week and reported the scam to Facebook and this morning I open the app and BAM!! there it is again. Now Facebook seems to like to police political posts which can get yanked quickly but they do not seem either interested in or capable of protecting users form charlatans on their site. So, Cave, when reading Facebook.

Without taking sides I’m also going to mention the New York Times piece on Trump’s taxes which for some reason brings to my mind the line for Shakespeare’s “Henry IV” part one when Harry finding Falstaff passed out in the tavern decries the bill, “Oh, Monstrous! But one halfpennyworth of bread to this intolerable deal of sack!” So, the NYT reports the income tax they claim Trump paid at only $750.00. This seems “Monstrous,” indeed Horrible, Dear Reader until, that is, we consider the facts because we are practicing “Legit Cave.” When he became President, Mr. Trump put his holdings into trust, meaning they are managed by others not himself. This is exactly what President Kennedy and President Hoover did and their trusts also continued to make money while they were in office. They too, donated their salaries of $100,000/year for JFK and $75,000/year for Hoover. Their trusts paid taxes under their own names and not as personal income for either President. President Trump is employed by the U.S. Government and as such draws a salary of $400,000. He also receives certain expenses for running the White House and Presidential affairs. His travel is paid either by the USG or by a Campaign Committee that is a separate entity and has its own tax reports to file. Because the President donates his salary to various USG entities (Kennedy favored the Boy and Girl Scouts, the Cuban Families Group and the Black College Fund), (Hoover gave some of his salary to his subordinates who had large families and low government salaries plus he was a big supporter of the Boys’ Clubs) Trump essentially has little income in a given year. Thus, he would have minimal personal income taxes in a given year. While such a headline might become Oh, Monstrous material, when you dig for the facts it becomes more of an OK, so what, headline. Could have written the same about Presidents Kennedy or Hoover.

The point is Legit Cave: In the 1960’s there was a series of bilateral track meets between the Soviet Union and The U.S. In the mile run there were two participants, one U.S. and one Soviet. The American won but Pravada (the Truth) in Russia printed the headline, “Soviet Runner Finishes Second in Mile Run; American Finishes Next to Last.” Facts and perspective, Dear Reader, Facts and perspective. Cave!!! in pretty much everything these days.

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