Atop the front page, the Times gets it right!

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2012

Your Howler keeps getting results: Right at the top of today’s front page, the New York Times gets it right!

In a report which is long overdue, Appelbaum and Gebeloff report about the way tax burdens have fallen in recent decades. Even better, they adopt a very important framework—they note the way we misinformed rubes may misunderstand such key points:
APPELBAUM AND GEBELOFF (1/30/12): Alan Hicks divides long days between the insurance business he started in the late 1970s and the barbecue restaurant he opened with his sons three years ago. He earned more than $250,000 last year and said taxes took more than 40 percent. What’s worse, in his view, is that others—the wealthy, hiding in loopholes; the poor, living on government benefits—are not paying their fair share.

“It feels like the harder we work, the more they take from us,” said Mr. Hicks, 55, as he waited for a meat truck one recent afternoon. “And it seems like there’s an awful lot of people in the United States who don’t pay any taxes.”

These are common sentiments in the eastern suburbs of St. Louis, a region of fading factory towns fringed by new subdivisions. Here, as across the country, people like Mr. Hicks are pained by the conviction that they are paying ever more to finance the expansion of government.

But in fact, most Americans in 2010 paid far less in total taxes—federal, state and local—than they would have paid 30 years ago. According to an analysis by The New York Times, the combination of all income taxes, sales taxes and property taxes took a smaller share of their income than it took from households with the same inflation-adjusted income in 1980.
American citizens have been aggressively disinformed about taxation issues for a good many years. This disinformation campaign has been pursued all over the talk-show and think-tank right.

The campaign has been very effective. Did you know that, if we lower tax rates, the government gets extra revenue?

We’ve begged and pleaded for work of this type. Today, once again, your DAILY HOWLER is getting results!

Much more work like this should be done. Whatever got into the New York Times, that it would dish key information?

10 comments:

  1. But in fact, most Americans in 2010 paid far less in total taxes—federal, state and local—than they would have paid 30 years ago.

    New York Times' statistical analyses have long been unreliable (except for Nate Silver). Take the above quote.

    I believe it's the case that most Americans in 2010 paid more total inflation-adjusted tax than they did 30 years ago. That comparison would indicate that today's taxes are too high. Therefore the Times didn't look at actual taxes paid. They looked for some other basis to "prove" that today's taxes are too low.

    The Times found an artificial construct -- taxes than would have been paid under a certain hypothesis. But, IMHO this hypothesis isn't a proper basis.

    Income went up during the last 30 years and more women entered the work force. Does that mean that taxes should have risen equally? I don't think so. Most of what the government does is the same, regardless of the increase in personal income. The fact that Americans now earn more money is no reason why we need to spend more on Defence, Social Security, Medicare, environmental protection, etc. So, as incomes rise, a well-managed governemnt should be reducing its share of national income.

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    1. I would also note that you have cited nothing supporting either of your claims: that the NYT does unreliable statistical work in general, and that this particular analysis is wrong. Without that, your assertions should be simply ignored.

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    2. urban urban urban, you are smart so take your own advice and simply ignore him.

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  2. The people doing the work government is paying for should see their incomes rising just as fast as yours, and things it pays for are subject to inflation as well -- so, yes, what you pay in taxes for the same government activities should stay the same. If adjustments in marginal rates on income tax do not keep up with inflation, then you would expect to pay a higher percentage of your income.

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    1. A fool's errand chasing down the misinformation in a D-in-CA comment, I'm afraid.

      But, no. The premise is just horribly, horribly flawed from the ground up.

      People are *not* earning more. On an inflation-adjusted basis, most jobs haven't increased their pay in decades.

      There *have* been huge income (and wealth) gains in recent decades -- But they've been concentrated in the very highest-compensated positions.

      Further, the attempt to tie what we (our government) spends money on to personal income trends is specious anyway.

      There are many reasons for government spending to change -- personal income growth is only one. To expect average personal income to show a fixed relation to, say, "environmental protection" is nonsense.

      If healthcare is a significant component of government expenses (and it is), then trends in healthcare costs are much more important than those in salaries in general.

      Is there *anything* of merit in David's post?

      Possibly. But the idea that "what you pay in taxes for the same government activities should stay the same" certainly isn't it.

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    2. On an inflation-adjusted basis, most jobs haven't increased their pay in decades.

      Anonymous, you are correct. On checking the CPI index and average weekly wage, I see that inflation-adjusted wages haven't gone up since 1980.

      people doing the work government is paying for should see their incomes rising just as fast as yours, and things it pays for are subject to inflation as well

      urban legend, I agree that government workers should get the same inflationary pay increases. But, I was talking about the increase in wealth due, e.g., to more women working.

      Should the government spend more on Defense just because more women are in the workforce? I don't think so.

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    3. Your "argument" is in tatters.

      Your 6:26 post doesn't stitch it back together again.

      "Should the government spend more on Defense just because more women are in the workforce? I don't think so."

      Who are you arguing with, anyway, that you post such an absurd non sequitur?

      You're in a deep, deep hole, David -- stop digging.

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    4. Why do you feed this troll? He's/she's totally dishonest. Blow him/her off. Maybe he'll go plague somebody deserving, like Kevin Drum.

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  3. Wonder why NYT publishes this now? Why not six months ago? Three years ago?

    Elections have consequences.

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  4. Except they make the article about a guy making $250,000 who is whining about the rich and the poor. My own basic tax data says that only 5% of taxpayers make more than $160,000. So he's $90,000 more than that, but does not think of himself as "rich". Sure .1% make more than $1.8 million but 75% make less than $67,000. But the NYT lets him complain about the rich. Like he's just like all those people making less than $70,000. Go out an offer somebody making $60,000 a $250,000 job and see if they don't think they are rich.

    http://journals.democraticunderground.com/hfojvt/169

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