When I got into the news business, the ethos of the trade was to “afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.” Afflicting the comfortable meant asking the rich how they made their money and questioning how politicians used their power. The main comfort we brought to the afflicted was discovery, recognition and the hope that their complaints, being known, would be addressed.
I bought it then and do now, which is why it seems to me so wrong when our government lavishes extra comforts on the already comfortable even as it ignores or scorns the afflicted.
A recent example of just this was revealed by our guest today, investigative reporter Jesse Drucker and Maureen Farrell of the New York Times. It’s a cute little tax dodge called the Qualified Small Business Stock, or Q.S.B.S., exemption, and Drucker wrote in the Times: it’s “the story of U.S. tax policy writ large. Congress enacts a loophole-laden law whose benefits skew toward the ultrarich. Lobbyists defeat efforts to rein it in. Then creative tax specialists at law, accounting and Wall Street firms transform it into something far more generous than what lawmakers had contemplated.”
I don’t know about you, but extending extra comforts to the comfortable afflicts me.
Jesse Drucker is an investigative reporter for the New York Times Business desk. He previously worked for The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg News where he won a pair of awards in 2011 for investigative and explanatory reporting from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers for a series on how U.S. multinationals shift profits into tax havens.