Friday, August 26, 2011

Local Idiot: Tax The Poor!

In a letter entitled Rhoades At It Again in The Pilot (where my weekly column appears), local idiot Jack Jakucyk once again raises that old discredited argument that it's not the rich, but the poor who aren't paying their fair share. In reference to this column, he starts off with the name-calling right wingers claim to despise, unless they're engaging in it:

Dusty, with his degree from the Karl Marx School of Economics, suggests that the rich not only don’t create jobs, they also don’t pay their “fair share” of taxes.

Then he goes on to parrot one of the more egregiously stupid arguments of the American Right:

At the other end of the spectrum, the bottom half (71 million returns) contributed only 3 percent of total tax revenues. And 51.8 million of the 142 million returns from your fellow Americans had no income tax liabilities due to deductions, tax credits, etc. This may seem counterintuitive, but I wonder if it’s a good thing for our society when half the population pays essentially no taxes. They have no dog in the fight. But Dusty Rhoades is on their side.

They don't pay taxes because they're poor, doofus. It's the old "lucky duckies" argument that was so roundly mocked when the WSJ first floated it. Take, for example, this article by Noble Prize laureate Paul Krugman which points out that:

The Journal considers a hypothetical ducky who earns only $12,000 a year ? some guys have all the luck! ? and therefore, according to the editorial, "pays a little less than 4% of income in taxes." Not surprisingly, that statement is a deliberate misrepresentation; the calculation refers only to income taxes. If you include payroll and sales taxes, a worker earning $12,000 probably pays well over 20 percent of income in taxes. But who's counting?

Or then there's Reuben Bolling, who brilliantly skewered the whole idea with his character "Lucky Ducky":

It's such a persistent fallacy of the Right that I thought it merited being addressed for a wider audience.

Just keep in mind, every time someone raises this claptrap about how "some people at the bottom don't pay any taxes, and that's not fair" that:

(a) it's a deliberate misrepresentation; and
(b) what they're really demanding is more taxes on the poor.

As Jonathan Chait wrote:
One of the things that has fascinated me about The Wall Street Journal editorial page is its occasional capacity to rise above the routine moral callousness of hack conservative punditry and attain a level of exquisite depravity normally reserved for villains in James Bond movies.

So I guess we we can say that Mr. Jakucyk studied at the Blofeld School of Economics.

Oh, and he conveniently fails to address the statistics showing that tax rates don't affect job creation. Wonder why that is? Maybe because he can't...Fox News hasn't  told him how. 


Spanish Inquisitor said...

Gee. This moron has a great argument. The rich create jobs (arguable) and pay their employees wages (as low as they can manage), and then ... The rich get to claim credit for the taxes the poor pay! Wow. Just wow.

John Purcell

JD Rhoades said...

an excellent point.

Dana King said...

These maroons have a self-defeating argument, if anyone would call them on it.

They're looking at it backward. We don;t have a country where 50% of the people shirk their taxes. We have a country where 50% of the people are too poor to pay taxes. Let's fix that part and see if the tax roles increase before we start wringing blood from the same stones over and over again.

Karen in Ohio said...

All of these numbers, including your own, Dusty, leave out an important fact: That a big segment of the population--children, the elderly, the chronically ill or disabled--have no income to tax, period.

According the USA QuickFacts census site, in 2009, some 24% of the population was under age 18, and nearly 13% was over the age of 65. That's 42% of Americans who pay none, or very little tax, right there. Are these "poor" people? Are these people who need their taxes raised? Are these citizens who should be whipped and chained and made to work, regardless of age or health situation?

Leaving out salient facts like this, it's easy to manipulate bullshit numbers to make them say any kind of nonsense you want it to say, just for effect, but it's a huge canard.

You know what Mark Twain said about statistics.

Karen in Ohio said...

Uh, sorry for the "fuzzy math". You'd a thunk I hadn't had any coffee this morning.

39%. Still a big damned number.

Spanish Inquisitor said...

Actually, 37%, but we're not going worry about a few math errors.

~IRS ;)

Judy5cents said...

I got that same argument from the Senior Senator from North Carolina, Richard Burr. Half the population pays less than 3 percent of income taxes. Which had nothing to do with my request that he get vote to end the oil subsidy and the tax break for corporate jets.

Durn those pesky poor people. Don't they know they're free to prosper by the sweat of their own brow? They can always take a lobbying job helping the rich keep their money. I hear lobbying firms can't hire them fast enough.

Karen in Ohio said...

Oh, geez.

I am going to start doing math problems again every day as penance.

John McFetridge said...

I didn't realize it at the time but I guess I went to the Karl Marx school of economics, too (well, it was in Canada ;).

Anyway, they taught us that jobs were created by a demand for goods and services - without customers it doesn't matter how many investors a company has.

So, why do these guys want to take a little more money out of the private sector economy and give it to the government? Do they want the government to get bigger?