Subject: Gore's Tax-Code Demagoguery
Re: " Damned Spot: Comparison Shopping"
From: Quintus Slide
Date: Oct 12 5:25 p.m. PT
The statement in Al Gore's ad that "big corporations get a tax write-off for education for their high-paid executives" is somewhat misleading. OK, I'm being nice; it's wildly misleading.
The tax breaks corporations receive for the money they spend on employee benefits are conditioned on the benefits being offered on a "non-discriminatory" basis. Discrimination, in this context, is a purely economic concept; if benefits are offered only to highly salaried employees, the cost of those benefits cannot be deducted. This restriction is ubiquitous in the Internal Revenue Code, and it applies to everything from subsidized meals to education to on-premises health facilities.
Also, many of the types of education expenditures that a corporation might make on behalf of its executives are nondeductible to begin with. For the cost of a degree to be deductible by the corporation, the degree must be one that aids the employee in her current employment—not one that serves as a stepping stone to a better job. In addition, certain professional degrees, such as a Juris Doctor, cannot be deducted, period.
So, what's going on here? Well, basically, Gore is running a commercial that assumes that the tax code is so labyrinthine that he can reliably assume we're too ignorant to know he's lying. And of course, he's lying in the service of a policy proposal that would make the code even more complex. Nice.
Subject: Which Came First—the Medicine or the Drama?
Re: " Dispatches: But One Plays Me on TV (Gideon's Crossing)"
From: Scott Tobias
Date: Oct 10 11:31 p.m. PT
The violent seizures and abstract medi-speak that run through a medical drama like Gideon's Crossing are conventions that should be accepted. What's the point of Slate commissioning a doctor to review the show? Is it really worth hearing what a submarine captain might have to say about U-571? Or, more absurd, what an astrophysicist might have to say about Star Trek?
What's essential (and deeply promising) about Gideon's Crossing is the same thing that made Homicide—created by the same pair of writers—such a groundbreaking show. Like the detectives in the earlier effort, Gideon's uses the everyday intimacy these professionals have with death (and life) to consider basic philosophical questions with a seriousness that's simply unrivaled in the medium. While I think Dr. Jenny Walser has some valid points about the show's aesthetic shortcomings (i.e., the strained absurdist subplots, the TV-commercial-like breakfast scene with the kids), I don't think her objections to its medical shortcomings have much merit.
So, which is more important in a medical drama, the medicine or the drama? The answer for viewers—at least those not currently receiving treatment—should be pretty obvious.
[To read an unedited version of this post, or to reply, click here.]
The PETA theory, that Jesus was a vegetarian based on the unfounded claim that He was an Essene is absolutely absurd. If one considers the occupants at Qumran (the Dead Sea Scroll community) to be Essenes, then they were certainly not vegetarian. Read the Temple Scroll, which was found in Cave 11 and you will be confronted with more blood and gore than any meat-packing plant or horror movie. The Temple Scroll includes a multitude of commands of animal sacrifice. For example here is a segment from 11QXXVI,5: "They shall slaughter before him the he-goat first and he shall lift up its blood in a bowl to the altar ... and shall toss the blood towards the base of the altar ledge all around."
Two successive articles about men named Wolfe (Alan and Tom), both of which allege the marginalization of formerly trendy academic theorists, and both of which include slighting comments about institutions of higher education located in Illinois? Next week, I suppose, you'll favor us with a piece on how Anglophone Canadians are re-evaluating the heroic status they formerly accorded to General Wolfe, based upon the criticism of his colonializing project made by a Francophone Foucaldian whose loss of trendy status has forced him to relocate from McGill to Augustana College.