Final Exam

Fun guys from the Santa Cruz Mountains

“I Hate Doing my Tax Return–but Still Love Tax”

Frances Ryan, The Guardian, 1/22/19

chicken scratch

My Take

I couldn’t have given you a more straightforward article to analyze for the final exam. Very little irony–just a cute little pretending-to-be-mad at paying taxes at the top. This article was full of good and bad guys, but the author’s intentionally subdued persona kept exaggeration off of the table. Why? The answer is always the TA: they are pretty much already on her side of the political fence (left: positive support of AOC and Oxfam + use of hot buttons to right-wingers like “shared,” “collectively”) and are pretty weary of over-the-top arguments. This author keeps calm while listing a bunch of stratospherically wealthy examples of implicit hypocrisy and greed (Bono, Bezos), the companies who work the “system” and the bought and useless politicians who support it all with legislation. All of the criticism is implied through anecdote–the TA is made to connect the dots. On the other side is an ethos-based argument using ad misericordium: the fragile social fabric, the people in poverty who pay a higher tax rate than the wealthy….

The targeted audience is somewhere between the extremes of rich and poor, which largely insulates them from having to think about this problem. This IS the problem, according to the author (IMHO). The TA is apathetic. They don’t suffer much under this system, and because they aren’t mega-rich, feel to some extent immune from blame. They are, however, mildly stressed and annoyed about having to pay tax, and may feel that this “suffering” is their way of atoning for keeping their heads in the sand. The TA are followers, though, according to the author, through her use of ad populum arguments about what “majorities” in the UK “want.”

The author uses arguments from statistics to support her pro-progessive tax thesis. A covert message is: YOU, TA, are letting the rich get richer and poor get poorer b/c of your lazy ignorance. Get your heads out of the sand and VOTE!

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