I can’t type nearly as fast as I can talk, and there are times when I can’t get words out of my mouth as fast as my mind is putting thoughts together. This is one of those times. No. That’s a close analogy, but I think I have a better one. What I want to convey is big, and complex, and interconnected, but it all fits together in my head. It all works. And I want to share it, as I see it in my head, but I just don;t have the tools to do it. It’d be like trying to show you the working intricacies of a Swiss timepiece when all I’ve got are rubber bands and thumbtacks. No matter how hard I try, it’s going to look like a mess.
But I’m gonna try anyway.
I think it was one of my college professors (from when I was a Communications major, before I became a Geology major, before I thought that an Earth Science Education major would probably be the best route, before I left college altogether to work for a living) who said something like “The most important piece of information is the one they’re not giving you.” Over time I wash in and out of the influence of that phrase. Right now seems to be one of my “in” periods. I’m finding it harder and harder and harder to listen to news of current events and not be incensed at what is NOT being said. The leaps of logic being used. The inferences being made. The stringing together of facts and statistics that are related but not connected, and worrying that people will make connections where there are none, and knowing that that was the intention all along.
And here’s where I build that woefully inadequate Play-Doh model of Michaelangelo’s David. There was a story, an interview, on All Things Considered on NPR this evening. You can listen to it yourself if you want. In it, Sen. Judd Gregg is talking about his opposition to the president’s $3.5 trillion dollar budget plan. He has a lot to say, and like I said, you can check it all out for yourself. I’m not going to run down the whole thing, just this part.
85% of the taxes are borne by the top 20% of income people, and you’ve got to remember who this 20% is. When you’re talking about incomes in the $250,000 range, you’re talking mostly about sole proprietors and people who run small businesses and maybe organize as a sub chapter S corporation where they are taxed on the income of their business. So, it’s a restaurant, it’s an automobile dealership, it’s a real estate agency. It’s the people who create the jobs. 70% of the jobs created in America today are created by small business people. So basically what you’re putting in place is a tax burden which is going to make it very difficult for those folks who are the entrepreneurs and job creators in our society to be successful. And what for? Well basically it’s being put in place to dramatically expand the size of the government.
(Yeah, I had to transcribe that one myself.)
This is just an example of everything I’m finding wrong with the information being thrown at us. Where to start?
- 85% of the taxes are borne by the top 20% of income earners. Okay. Well, what percent of the wealth do those 20% make? As it turns out:
- $250,000 is not a range. It is a number. In the context of this budget, it’s a cutoff amount for a higher tax bracket. Someone who makes $249,999.99 will not be affected by that increase. This is worded to suggest otherwise. It suggests that if you make something near that number, you should be worried.
- Gregg doesn’t explicitly say that the top 20% of income earners make $250,000 or more. He also never says they don’t. He just mentions them back to back and lets you make that connection. This source shows that if you make $250,000 or more, you’re in the top 1.5%. I find it hard to believe that most of the people in that 1.5% are small business owners.
- Going back to that $250,000 figure… what the hell is it? Is this a tax levied on business making that much, or on individuals? Or both? And even if a business of that businesses owner made $250,000, that’s not what they’re going to pay taxes on. We made $40,000 last year, but we only paid taxes on 14,000 after deductions and credits. Based on that and using some crude math, a business owner could make as much as $712,500 before ending up at a $250,000 taxable income. And that would be the salary of that business owner, which means the business itself could have done, what, a million dollars or more in business? Is that what we’re calling small business these days? Maybe compared to GE, but not compared to the pizza place down the street, which is the implication.
- Finally, expanding government is not the purpose of this tax, whoever it affects. Granted, that may be an effect of the tax, but I debate that as well. This tax was not designed, created and implemented with the intent of expanding government. It was designed to raise money, however controversially. Gregg suggests that the goal here is to create a big government, and this tax is the way that goal is being achieved. It feeds into the fear of big government, and logically if big government is trying to make itself bigger, then you should fear it even more. Actually, you should fear all things big. Big equals bad, and small equals good. $250,000 is a BIG number. (That’s bad). But it’s comprised of small business owners! (That’s good!) 85% of taxes (BIG! Bad!) are borne by 20% of earners (small. They must be good! Oh, and they’re small (GOOD!) business owners, too?)
Oy. You see why I’m all worked up? You know, the simple solution would be to just stop listening to all this crap. But like I mentioned earlier… it’s what they’re not saying that’s most important. So I’m going to have to keep paying attention to not hear it.