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Friday, April 29, 2005

I should be studying... 

...but I have to link to someone who is bashing the WSJ editorial page (which is otherwise a great paper). Here's an excerpt:

A Wall Street Journal editorial this week cites a recent IRS study detailing which income groups pay what level of taxes. The editors note with satisfaction that the highest-earning 0.1% of the population paid 5.06% of the federal tax burden in 1979, and was paying 9.52% as of a couple of years ago.

To the Journal editors, this proves that "the overall tax burden grew more progressive from 1979 to 1999." The editorial goes on to note that any move to raise taxes on the rich would be deeply unfair because those poor folks "already bear an outsized share of the American tax burden."

It is certainly true that the richest 0.1% are paying a higher share of the national tax burden. Is that because they're getting socked by the tax code? No, it's because the very rich are earning a far bigger proportion of the national income. In 1979, the highest-earning 0.1% took home about 3% of the national income, and paid about 5% of the taxes. In 1999, they earned about 10% of the national income and paid about 11% of the taxes.

In fact, the tax rate borne by the very rich has plummeted. In 1979, the top 0.1% paid, on average, 32% of their income in taxes. Today, they pay less than 23%. So what's happening is that the top 0.1% are paying a higher share of the tax burden because their share of the national income is rising faster than their tax rates are falling. The Journal editorial board sees this state of affairs as class warfare against the rich.

At this point, you may be wondering whether it's really possible that professional editorial writers at a first-rate newspaper — people who, after all, are paid to think seriously about issues like this — could make such a simple statistical mistake. Are they really so dishonest or so dumb as to think that you can measure the fairness of a tax code by looking at what share of the taxes various groups pay without considering how much they earn? I can tell you, as a regular reader of that page, that the answer is: Yes, they really, really are.

-Daddy Brooklyn  13:37 EST | |

About us:

This weblog is an ongoing, if periodic, effort by several friends to stay in touch, in reading material, and in ideas.

Lucky Luciano is a former Italian Stallion real estate hustler and Benedict Arnold CEO turned shady lawyer-to-be. He lives in Denver.

Ben is a Paramedic and would-be philantropist who lives in Denver. He knows everything about nothing.

Fuzzy Dunlop lives in Manhattan. He is more than capable of standing up to the stresses of a high crime urban environment.

Jess is a teacher. But have YOU given her an apple? No, you haven't. You should be ashamed of yourself. This crazy feminist currently rests her copy of Awakening in Jersey City.

Matt is a pariah, iconoclast, and professor of gambling living in Oakland.

Miguel Sanchez is not Lionel Hutz.

Daddy Brooklyn lives in Brooklyn. He hates Republicans, though he wouldn't mind being ensconced in the landed elite of New York City.

Paul just smoked my eyelids and punched my cigarette.

Ziggy Stardust has no past.

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