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Yet more proof of "figures don't lie, but liars can figure"

Well, the Boston Globe is at it again. They're pushing their anti-war agenda once more, this time trotting out the notion of "if more people had to suffer for the war, they'd smarten up and agree with us" schtick. This time they're using tax policy as their club, much like those who call for the return of the draft.

According to the Globe, Americans making more than $300,000 a year are paying the lowest tax rates in 50 years. This is abominable to them, as there should be more "shared sacrifice" and they want Congress to raise taxes.

Oh, I'm sorry. They don't want to "raise" taxes, they just want to repeal the Bush tax cuts. Because while the end effect is the same, what you call it makes all the difference in the world. By emphasizing "repeal the Bush tax cuts," they achieve a couple of goals: they try to not only link Bush's sagging popularity to the issue, they also push the notion that the prior tax rates were "normal," and simply returning to them is OK. This bypasses the notion that, perhaps, the tax rates were too high and Bush's tax cuts were actually moving them closer to where they ought to be.

The Globe authors also bypass a few "inconvenient facts" about taxes. For example, last week the inestimable Will Franklin also took a look at tax policy, absent the filtering lens of war opposition. So while the tax RATES might be lower, the tax burden has shifted -- and shifted upward. Franklin looks at just who is paying what percentages of total tax revenue. Post-Bush tax cuts, the top 5% of income earners have seen their share of the total burden rise from 50% to (guesstimate here) 58%. In fact, the top 50% earners have all seen their share of total taxes rise, while the bottom 50% (that most definitely includes me) have seen their burden drop.

So the Bush tax cuts have already done what the Globe is calling for -- they've shifted the tax burden upwards. Also, tax revenues have also risen.

So, just what is behind the Globe's push for raising tax rates? Several factors. First, their anti-war position is enhanced. Second, it ties in quite nicely with their general philosophy of "punish the successful." (I once heard a bit of wisdom that struck me as deeply profound: "I've never been hired by a poor man." That, far more than "trickle-down economics" or any other catchphrase or lofty explanation, consolidated my belief in the free market.) Third, it advances their agenda of shredding any evidence that the Bush administration was anything but a complete, unmitigated, utter disaster.

Yeah, the government is in less than great financial shape. But the problem isn't income, it's outgo. It's rampant, unchecked spending that would make a drunken Kennedy blush. (I'm sorry, that's a very poor construction. For one, "drunken Kennedy" is almost redundant. For another, Kennedys don't blush.)

The government has all the money it needs to do what it should, and then some. The problem is that it spends on a lot of things it doesn't need to, and shouldn't.

I recently quoted P. J. O'Rourke's classic observation from "Parliament Of Whores," and it's worth repeating at every possible occasion: "Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys."


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Comments (18)

No, Kennedys don't blush. ... (Below threshold)
Tim:

No, Kennedys don't blush. I believe they bloom.

Good points, Jay. I ... (Below threshold)
GeminiChuck:

Good points, Jay.
I think its time to re-define some terms: "Trickle Down" should be where the Govt confiscates hard earned income, skims, and doles out the rest as they please for votes and political favors. Capitalistic business economics (where investors/companies invest, hire workers, sell products, expand, etc) should be termed "Funnel Out". GC

Kennedy genes bloat and flo... (Below threshold)
epador:

Kennedy genes bloat and float.

The current state of affairs does show that an unrestrained legislature, whether Democratic or Republican, will tax and spend like drunken teenagers drive, and a press that has no sense has no shame. Or is it the other way around?

Kennedy can blush ... you... (Below threshold)

Kennedy can blush ... you just can't see it past the Irish suntan ...

I've never been hired by a ... (Below threshold)
llort:

I've never been hired by a poor man, but I've been hired by people who drive luxury European sedans, own expensive condos, contribute to the arts and to numerous charities, and think that it would be selfish to support Bush's tax policies simply because it would benefit them personally.

The party of voodoo economics is now sitting on the sidelines. Let's see what Baucus proposes re: tax policy, and what idiotic reasons Bush and the Senators that represent you 30 percenters come up with to disagree with him.

Left wing reporters are ant... (Below threshold)
Scrapiron:

Left wing reporters are anti-american for a reason. They are lowly reporters, or talking heads, and that's all they'll ever be. One in a million writes a story and becomes famous, the rest die unknown, or forgotten one day after their death. Actually more people cheer their death than grieve for them. Doing the normal for the left of the day, write anything, say anything and make up lies is the only way 99% of them will ever be noticed.

Uh...llort...if these mythi... (Below threshold)
brainy435:

Uh...llort...if these mythical creatures you speak of are so generous to charities and so against government allowing them to keep what they earned, they are free to give away more of their money. But what they really want is to feel good by forcing more money out of other people so they can claim to care about the poor while still wasting money on their expensive toys.

llort:I've never ... (Below threshold)
_Mike_:

llort:
I've never been hired by a poor man, but I've been hired by people who drive luxury European sedans, own expensive condos, contribute to the arts and to numerous charities, and think that it would be selfish to support Bush's tax policies simply because it would benefit them personally.

And your anecdotal story about someone's feelings makes this makes it bad policy because why ??

"Second, it (tax policy ... (Below threshold)
Steigen:

"Second, it (tax policy )ties in quite nicely with their general philosophy of "punish the successful."

The above is just a little bit too convenient, twisting current taxation policy into "punish the successful."

Just as Jay would not expect to go to Trump Towers in NYC and pay a rack rate for a standard room while occupying the Presidential Suite, he ought not to advocate that the wealthiest 5% of taxpayers who carry 50%+ of the tax load are the successful getting punished.

If the wealthiest 5% did not live in an open, orderly society with a mass consumer base, their ability to garner the wealth they possess would be non-existent, no matter what drive and ambition for success they possessed.

A thriving well-ordered society is the base of what makes their accumulation of wealth possible. Any man who was an island of one could not possibly achieve Trump-like success and wealth under any circumstances.

Likewise, any society of 300,000,000 people where every last man did have the same talents, the same health and well-being and the same drive to achieve could not have 300,000,000 successful entrepreneurs each with the merit to be paid, for example, the $400,000,000 bonus that the CEO of Occidental Petroleum was just awarded.

The fact that some lack the incentive, some the talents and some the health and well-being of the most successful is what makes the unbalanced accumulation of wealth possible in this society.

The bottom line is that that privileged group of extremely wealthy people owe the most for the stable society wherein they can attain their wealth because they are the ones who derive the overwhelming greatest benefits of that society, just as they ought to expect to pay $10,000/nite for the Presidential Suite at Trump Towers in contrast to a rack standard room rate of $500.

Such Policy is not "punishing the successful." It's just not giving away the front row Orchestra seats for a rear Upper Balcony price.

I

re:SteigenNo one's... (Below threshold)
_Mike_:

re:Steigen

No one's arguing that the 'wealthy' should pay less per dollar earned than the 'non-wealthy'. However, you haven't made an argument as to why a some dollars earned should be taxed at a higher rate than other dollars (i.e. for tax rate brackets)

This would be analogous to one person having to pay $10k/nite for the Presidential Suite at Trump Towers while another person had to pay $20k/nite simply because they earned more. How precisely is that 'fair' ?

Those folks earning $300K a... (Below threshold)
BillyBob:

Those folks earning $300K already pay most of the federal income tax that's collected.

Pathetic income confiscation & redistribution communist bullsh1t.

BillyBob...you are an econo... (Below threshold)
Steigen:

BillyBob...you are an economic Darwinist.

_Mike_ they should pay a higher freight because they have the means to pay it. They derive the lion's share of the benefit so they should carry the freight.

Using the direction of your perspective, the average wage earner would have nothing left to live on. They already can't make ends meet w/ both parents working. Those w/ the excessive income should have to cough up a higher rate for the privilege to accumulate an outrageous agrandizement of wealth.

Otherwise, like it or not, you're not that far beyond a feudal social system, regardless of how you attempt to define it.

Moreover, you still don't answer the concept that if everyone had the same talents and drive, there could not be the disproportinate accumulation of wealth that is seen in this society.

As I said above, 300,000,000 people cannot all earn or merit a $400,000,000 bonus. There'd be no one left to clean toilets or flip burgers. The fact that these circumstances exist is due to many variables, but equal opportunity is not the bottom line.

This system is more like an Amway pyramid economy.

Steigen, your argument is t... (Below threshold)
brainy435:

Steigen, your argument is typically leftist/socialist. Who the hell do you think you are to decide who has "enough" or is paid "excessive" amounts of money? I'm sure there are quite a few people in the third world convinced that you make way too much money and should fork over an additional 70% of your wage. You'd still be rich by their standards. If you ever have the courage of your convictions to redistribute your own wealth instead of championing the redistribution the wealth of those you are jealous of, maybe you would have a basis to preach about this issie.

I mean, honestly, kids are starving in Africa. Do you really NEED an internet connection? Or is it an "excess?"

Sorry, but I get fed up with these communists convinced that people who actually take advantage of the opportunities available to EVERYONE somehow owe something to the people that don't.

"people who actually tak... (Below threshold)
Steigen:

"people who actually take advantage of the opportunities available to EVERYONE somehow owe something to the people that don't."

As I said above, if everyone did take ( or could take or have equal access to take) the advantages that you reference, there would be, among other things, no $400,000,000 bonuses for ANYONE. The notion that one and all, if they will just get up off their ass, can be a Trump or a $25 mil a year talk-show host or a $400 mil oil maggot is the greatest pyramid scheme ever conceived.

The disproportionate accumulation of massive wealth is due principally to the fact that evryone does not, for many varied reasons, have equal access. And yes, brainy, one of those reasons is pure laziness which is the least exemptory of all the many other reasons that exist.

As for your, "I'm sure there are quite a few people in the third world convinced that you make way too much money," is simply fallacious. The point of comparison is irrelevant.

If you are against people h... (Below threshold)
brainy435:

If you are against people having too much money for the sole reason that they were lucky enough to not be born lazy, why would the argument that you have too much money for the sole reason that you were lucky to be born here be irrelevant?

It's only "irrelevant" to you because it would expose your hypocricy if you tried to refute it on its merits.

brainy, you would have love... (Below threshold)
Steigen:

brainy, you would have loved Feudalism.

"the sole reason that th... (Below threshold)
Steigen:

"the sole reason that they were lucky enough to not be born lazy,"

No one is born lazy. And no one born as a solitary individual in a society of just one or a few could rise to a level, notwithstanding the full use of all his talents, to a position where he received a $400,000,000 bonus as a CEO.

The very system is predicated on a pyramid.

Steigen, to paraphrase Indi... (Below threshold)
brainy435:

Steigen, to paraphrase Indigo Montoya: You keep using this word "feudalism." I do not think it means what you think it means.

Feudalism was a system where poor people were kept down by others who could provide shelter. Meritocracy is a system where poor people are kept down by their own failings.

"And no one born as a solitary individual in a society of just one or a few could rise to a level, notwithstanding the full use of all his talents, to a position where he received a $400,000,000 bonus as a CEO."

Uh...do you know of anyone who has been born as an individual who wasn't, pretty much by definition, solitary? Well, there's Cybil... And how, exactly do you have a "society" of just one person? You take too many meds, or not enough?

The larger point though, is that even in a society of a few, there will be one person who comes into dominance through his talents, though to be fair it is unlikely that society will invent the same system to allow him to reach this 400 mil number you are jealously obsessed with. LIFE is predicated on a pyramid...survival of the fittest and all. Our system allows those FROM any level to rise or fall TO any level based on their merits. this is not the case in many countries... and exspecially not the case in feudal systems.




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