Implied Dissent

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Tabarrok follows up on his initial post here and here.
It looks like the NY Times inadvertently caught Kerry in a lie about the economy.


  • Where are these tax rates coming from? I think I fit somewhere in the bottom 80% of income, but I don't pay 8.5% or 5.2% or 1.9%(!!!!) or whatever. Those numbers seemed to pulled out of that guys ass. Or some random page out of a report. What do they represent? It's not my federal tax rate, that's for sure. Are the categories broken down by percentile of income earned, or by percent of the population? This is nonsense. Something like this has to be taken lightly.

    The other charts showing incomes by categroy increasing or decreasing seems misleading too. Where did this data come from? Did they poll individual taxpayers? Did they get it from the IRS? The data seems fishy. It seems to imply the incomes of the middle class have stayed almost flat over the period 2000-2002, while the uber wealthy got their income cut from... $2 million to $1.6 million. That must suck for them. It has nothing to do with the large drop in the stock market, I'm sure.

    so.. if the incomes of the middle class have stayed steady over that particular two year span, what about inflation? over that span it was about 3% per year, so that's about a 6% decrease in real value of their incomes.

    Does this mean the middle class is shrinking or not shrinking? I can't tell from that data.

    Moral of the story: Statistics from biased a presenter are worthless.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Aug 19, 2004, 11:16:00 PM  

  • Well, Anonymous, first off, where in the post did you get tax rates from? Oh, from a different post altogether. Ok, anyway, you have to look at just federal income taxes; ignore state taxes, social security, etc. When you look at that, the numbers are realistic. For the lowest earners, after taking into account deductions and the eitc, they pay very little, if anything, in federal income taxes.
    Second, you seem to suggest that the post is asking us to feel sorry for someone who goes from $2m to $1.6m a year in income. No, it's just pointing out that the poor and middle class aren't the ones with dropping incomes. It's really saying it's not that bad an economy, the ones 'suffering' are the ones who can take it.
    As to whether it's real income or not, I don't know. As to biased sources, these charts came straight out of the NY Times, which is biased against Bush.

    By Blogger Maestro, at Aug 20, 2004, 8:50:00 AM  

  • well, Maestro, unfortunately, that NY times article is now offline so I can't check it.

    I must ask you though: How many people do you know who are unemployed or underemployed (i.e. temping)? How does this compare to the economy before 2000? The cost of living is up, wages are steady (let's suppose it's correct), and there are no jobs.

    It's the true the economy is not that bad, but it's not going anywhere fast either. Where's the benefit of the trickle down effect from the tax relief for the weathly? I sure don't see it.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Aug 20, 2004, 9:48:00 AM  

  • Well, Anonymous, I never did say the economy is strong. I'd say it's performance over the last 3ish years has been quite odd, in some ways good, in some ways bad. At this point, the economy's performance is not braggable for Bush. I certainly haven't fared that well the last few years. Keep in mind, I'm someone who is far more likely to vote for Kerry than for Bush. Bush sucks. However, that doesn't mean it's okay to spread lies, as Kerry arguably does. If you can contradict the info Luskin presented, please do so, and I will criticize him for either lying or being wrong.
    Also, leaving anonymous comments is obnoxious. You don't have to sign in, but at least give a pseudonym at the end of your comments.

    By Blogger Maestro, at Aug 20, 2004, 10:29:00 AM  

  • Maestro

    I don't that have data handy. I'm just saying you might be a little too eager to believe those dubious statistics (that are two years old, by the way) to prove that Kerry was lying.

    Lying (or twisting the truth) is something that the Bush team does all the time:

    -"There are stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq"

    -Iraq is an "immenent threat to the United States"

    -Rumsfeld: "I take full responsibilty for the torture of prisoners" (or maybe he doesn't know the meaning of "full responsibility")

    Whatever. Kerry's words are election year politics. This is how it goes.

    The evidence that Luskin presents is totally non-convincing to me. It really doesn't say much about the size of the middle class. The stats are really unclear as to what they mean. I can't take it as evidence that Kerry is spreading "lies". His data says one thing, someone recomputes it using different formulas and comes up with a different answer.


    Mr. Anon E. Mouse

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Aug 20, 2004, 2:18:00 PM  

  • ok here's some data:

    table of median incomes 1980 to 2002Median income is a decent indicator of income of the middle class (it's really the middle income). These tables have columns that are adjusted for 2002 dollars. In each category (there are many if you scroll down) households were better off in 1999-2000 than they are now (in 2002 dollars).

    Still, this data does not tell us how many people fit into the middle class in 2002 compared to 2000.. Is Kerry lying? I don't know.

    --Mr. Anon E. Mouse

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Aug 20, 2004, 2:30:00 PM  

  • Mr Mouse,
    I'm not sure what your point is. Are you saying that because Bush told very serious lies, it doesn't matter if Kerry lies? Or that I should criticize Bush for lying?
    If it's the second, then I need to point out that I criticize the Bush administration constantly, for lies and other things. Very early on I was pointing out that it was almost impossible for their claims about WMD to be true. I called Cheney on his bullshit/hypocritical response to Kerry talking about sensitivity. Etc, etc. I criticize Bush much more than I criticize Kerry.
    If your point is the first thing, then no. I'm not a moral relativist, and I'll continue to criticize people who lie, whether I generally support them or hate them.
    Finally, reread what I wrote. Show me where I said Kerry lied. I said it looks like he did and arguably he did, and that's exactly what I meant. I believe he did, but I can't definitively say it at this point. I will concede that the data is two years old, so must be taken with a grain of salt. However, if Luskin is honest (and I've always found him to be honest, sometimes wrong, but always basically honest), the data definitely support the contention.

    By Blogger Maestro, at Aug 20, 2004, 5:20:00 PM  

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