“Just the facts, ma’am” is a familiar catchphrase from the 50’s television series Dragnet. The police crime drama was a little before my time (I was raised on Charlie’s Angels, Happy Days, and The Six Million Dollar Man) but the old Joe Friday saying has endured for several generations. Unfortunately, in these times it seems actual facts are only sporadically found on our screens, in our newspapers, and even in our hearts. We tend to choose our tribe and then blindly believe everything we see and hear that reinforces our biased perceptions while also ignoring or completely dismissing anything that may disturb our preconceived notions even though it may be true. Ultimately, we can only blame ourselves if we succumb to our naivety, gullibility, and partisan blindness regardless of how much the media attempts to direct us toward that destructive way of thinking.
For example, a while back I was struck by what I considered to be a bold headline when perusing an edition of The New York Times (2/13/19). The front-page headline read “Pledged Relief, Early Tax Filers Find Only Pain.” I instantly found two things a bit peculiar about that statement. I had to wonder why the journalist, Tara Siegel Bernard, was already coming to conclusions, presumably in regards to President Trump’s newly enacted tax breaks, when the majority of taxpayers had yet to file their tax returns, and how could it be they found only pain? My curiosity got the best of me, so I decided to read the entire story.
I suspected the article was going to take a negative view of Trump’s income tax overhaul – and how, once again, our commander in chief failed America – and I was right. To be fair, the writer did tweak the aforementioned heading later on in the story with, “some filers find only pain,” but that key word was buried deep within the issue (not on the front-page). And the damage was surely already done if one chose only to scan the original headline. I know this may just be a case of semantics, but the words used in print, whether chosen carefully or haphazardly, can definitely make all the difference in the world. I have no time, nor the patience, for careless, manipulative, or biased journalism. Please, just the facts, ma’am.
I was indifferent to Trump’s proposed tax cuts from the start. Those who are concerned about our country’s national debt, or who believe all corporations are pure evil, will probably never be on board with the government issuing tax breaks. I, for one, am not really concerned about a balanced budget (it’s way too late for that), and I’m not too worried about “big, bad” corporations. I can only attest to my own experiences. And this is the first year, in well over a dozen years, my lovely wife and I will be receiving a refund at tax time. Coincidence? I’ve done the math (it’s not rocket science…or even algebra) and with all things being equal the fact is the missus and I will have an additional $762 in our pockets this year, for no other reason than that of Trump’s newly enacted tax breaks. Thank you, Mr. President. I am certainly not about to complain about something that’s undeniably beneficial to my family. Those are just the facts, ma’am.