Friday, January 23, 2009

poenam fugere

To avoid the penalty.

On James Fallows always stimulating blog, a discussion of new Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner's past tax "error" leads him to dip into his mailbag:
"Not an innocent error" dept:
1) I couldn't agree more about Geithner and after 8 years of the rankest, in-your-face demonstration of a two-tiered justice system in which every wrong doer with a white collar has gotten off scott free (who is this scott anyway?) or even been rewarded for his malfeasance I just wish we could go back to the pretense that we have a legal system that works one way for all the people.

Let me hasten to add: I'm so excited about Obama and his promise I could just about burst but this episode keeps me from bumping my nose against the ceiling.
Scott? I know Scott Free, more properly as scot-free. The expression comes from Old English sc(e)ot-a payment, contribution, ‘reckoning’; a customary tax laid on, or a contribution paid by subjects according to their ability; a custom paid to the use of a sheriff or bailiff; a local or municipal tax (OED). To go scot-free is to avoid such a tax.

1 comment:

Roy said...

So scot-free is unrelated to the people of Scotland. Could it be that the English gave Scotland its name because the Scots didn't pay their scots?