Friday, January 25, 2008

Rebate, refund or just a handout?

The words rebate and refund have been used interchangeably over the past few days as Congress and the White House consider an economic stimulus plan. A quick check of the thesaurus indicates the two words are synonyms. Refund means to give back or restore. A rebate is defined as a partial refund. Now, as the plan has firmed up a bit, rebate seems to be more prevalent in news stories. Not sure why the change, but I just thought it was interesting.

Of course, neither of these words is appropriate to describe the money that will be given to those who don't pay income taxes. How do you refund money to a person who never paid the money in the first place? Let's just call this what it is: an income redistribution plan.

Fun in opposite land

In downtown Raleigh, I encountered a sign above an ash tray that was in desperate need of a comma:

Smokers help prevent fires.

Uh, maybe in opposite land. A comma between "smokers" and "help" would convey the intended meaning.

The opposite of charity

Last night at work I was editing a story about charitable donations and the importance of getting receipts should you need to prove yourself to the Treasury mafia. I looked up donation in the thesaurus. Guess what the opposite of donation is? Receipt.

Seems apropos. I rarely claim deductions for charity, even if I have a receipt or some kind of proof. You see, it just seems that charity isn't charity if you get something in return, like a receipt you can use to reduce your taxes.

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