Writing intermittently on life, politics, and society

You can’t love me if you don’t respect me

Every once in a while I’m reminded why I don’t mess with the Wall Street Journal.

The first thing that gets my dander up is the language of the article, which evokes the idea that the poor (and middle class) are somehow riding on the backs of the rich. My former house-mate’s libertarian friend would do this constantly, and it would annoy me to no end:

Those who make
$200,000 a year are 3%
of all taxpayers but pay
52% of all income taxes

Certainly. However the emphasis on income tax ignores other taxes like Sales Tax, and elides the other ways in which the poor especially can spend a significant proportion of their income by for example having to buy groceries at local corner stores, and using coin operated laundromats.

Moreover that table is designed to make it look as though the rich have been subjected to abusive taxes. Without showing the effective rate of taxation, the numbers are extremely misleading.

The second thing is the little line thrown in to explain away the rise in the share of the income of the top 3% of earners in the US: “If everyone’s income rises by 10%, the income ‘gap’ between rich and poor widens by definition.” Well, yes. The data doesn’t bear that out, though. Instead the vast majority of households have seen their incomes stay flat in real terms, while top earners have experienced fantastic rates of income growth.

Contrary to the impression the Wall Street Journal editorial board are nurturing, the US is geared to transfer wealth to those who already have it. The article is little more than a request to be thrown into the briar patch.

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