It doesn’t matter that many of us in America failed to pay attention in elementary school to the very real difference in English between less and fewer. We are not responsible for huge sums of money and the finely tuned distribution of these monies across essential and competing needs. But the Treasury Secretary is. It is amazing that he has been so steeped in money and so ignorant for so long.
It may, at first blush, sound pedantic in the extreme to question a person’s competence by criticizing his use of his native language, but it is a totally different thing when a future Treasury Secretary fails to understand and convey the differences between what can and cannot be counted.
Just listen to him: “Any reductions we have in upper income taxes will be offset by less (sic) deductions so that there will be no absolute tax cut for the upper class … There will be a big tax cut for the middle class, but any tax cuts we have for the upper class will be offset by less (sic) deductions that pay for it.”
For those who still can’t remember the difference, like Steven Mnuchin, the hard and fast rule (and the essential distinction) is that if you are talking about an amount of something that cannot be counted, it’s less and if you are talking about a number of people or things that can be counted, it’s fewer.
Many of us have been hoping, perhaps irrationally, that Trump would pick smarter people than he for the most critical positions in the government. The choice of Mnuchin to oversea the nation’s money and its distribution leaves us both stunned and without hope.