Matt Yglesias, now with Vox, finds this chart of ours misleading:
He admits that the data is correct and that what it shows—that the federal income tax is highly progressive—is also correct.
So what’s the problem?
Our chart looks exclusively at federal income taxes in the context of the current debate over whether the rich should pay more of that tax. Yglesias thinks that, when considering this issue, it is more appropriate to look at the progressivity of all taxes Americans pay, including federal income taxes, payroll taxes, and state and local taxes.
Just because this chart doesn’t account for those other taxes doesn’t make it misleading.
President Obama started the debate about raising the federal income tax on the rich way back when he was still a candidate for the presidency. And his support for higher income taxes on the wealthy continues today—check out his latest budget as an example. One of his arguments in favor of that policy was that the rich don’t pay enough income tax compared to lower earners.
In that context, it is highly appropriate to focus on data about the federal income tax. Before deciding if the rich should pay more of that tax, its only common sense to see how much they pay of it now.
Expanding the debate to include other taxes can add even more context to a complex issue. In fact, we often look at the total federal tax burden, which includes the payroll tax, corporate taxes, excise taxes, and others. Here is a good example as it pertains to President Obama’s infamous Buffett Rule.
It would’ve been more constructive if Ygelsias had offered the data he did in his post as a way to expand this sometimes contentious debate.
In that case, we would’ve been glad to engage further. And we wouldn’t have called him misleading.
Image via snoopsmaus
Most of the coverage of the Heartbleed bug has focused on the security problems for websites, but there's another avenue of attack now being exploited by hackers: the Virtual Private Network (VPN) systems used by many large and small businesses.
Security firm Mandiant reports that it is has ...
And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots. And sitting down they watched him there; And set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias. And straightway one of them ran, and took a spunge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink.
The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him. Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
The Gospel of Matthew 27:35-37, 45-53
Tonight on The Independents: The Seven Deadly Sins, With Thaddeus Russell, Baylen Linnekin, TV’s Andy Levy, Dagen McDowell, Charles Payne, Noelle Nikpour, and Commie Jesse Myerson!
Kennedy's back in pilot's chair for the Friday
night theme episode of The
Independents (9 p.m. ET, 6 p.m. PT, on Fox Business
Network), which tonight engages the millions of people celebrating
religious traditions over this weekend with a fresh look at the
Seven Deadly Sins. It'll break down like this:
Greed: Fox Business super-guest and investment
guru Charles Payne tries
to complexify things beyond whether greed is "good."
Wrath: Fox News correspondent Dagen McDowell defends
righteous vengeance, while Andy Levy and the panel express more
Gluttony: Beloved Reason.com
columnist Baylen Linnken talks about the messy intersection of
public policy and foodstuffery.
Envy: Everyone's (least?) favorite communist
Jesse Myerson defends
his political tendency against charges of enviousness, then things
get shouty and sweaty.
Pride: Your hosts chew on various aspects of
how pride can be a bad or good thing.
Et voila! This show shall repeat at 2 a.m., then again at 7 p.m.
on Saturday and Sunday. Check out our Facebook page,
follow us on Twitter, and click
video of past segments. Also, if you want to see John Bolton demand
more drones and slag Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), watch the video
Comparative Global Morality: How Do American Views Stack Up on Abortion, Affairs, and Other Morally Charged Issues?
A new global survey from
Pew Research Center compares views on morality in 40 countries.
Respondents in each country were asked about the moral
acceptability of eight things: abortion, alcohol, contraception,
divorce, extramarital affairs, gambling, homosexuality, and
premarital sex. They could classify each as either morally
acceptable, morally unacceptable, or "not a moral issue."
You could spend quite a while pouring over and pondering the
results. Here are a few interesting tidbits I gleaned.
1. On Booze
Unsurprisingly, Americans are among those with the least moral
aversion to alcohol (we're even slightly less squeamish about it
than the French). Only 16 percent of Americans find drinking
alcohol to be morally unacceptable, compared to 18 percent of
Other countries with high alcohol approval ratings were
Australia (only 10 percent against), Britain (9 percent), Canada (9
percent), and Germany (14 percent). Countries where alcohol was
most disapproved of were (again, unsurprisingly) Pakistan (94
percent), the Palestinian territories (89 percent), Indonesia,
Tunisia, and Jordan (all 85 percent against).
2. On Lovers
It should also surprise almost no one that France has some of
the most tolerant attitudes toward taking lovers. Here, 12 percent
of respondents say having an affair is morally acceptable, and 40
percent say it isn't a moral issue, which makes only 48 percent
really opposed to extramarital rendez-vous.
Other countries with lax attitudes toward monogamy include
Germany (only 63 percent find affairs morally unacceptable), Spain
(65 percent), India (73 percent), and the Czech Republic (73
percent). In the U.S., 86 percent say affairs are immoral, four
percent say they're morally fine, and 10 percent say this isn't a
3. On Gambling
In many countries, a large majority were morally against
gambling. Countries with the most accepting attitudes toward
gambling included the U.S. (where 25 percent say it's morally
acceptable and 47 percent say it's not a moral issue), Australia,
the U.K., Canada, Poland, Spain, Italy, Germany, and
4. On Abortion
In the U.S., a slight minority say abortion is morally
unacceptable (49 percent), while 17 percent say it's acceptable and
23 percent say abortion isn't a moral issue. Overall, the countries
most accepting of abortion were France, the Czech Republic,
Germany, the U.K., Australia, Spain, and Japan.
Abortion disapproval is lowest in France, where only 14 percent
say abortion is morally unacceptable and 47 percent say it's not a
moral issue. In the Czech Republic, 18 percent say it's
unacceptable and 49 percent say it's morally acceptable. In
Germany, 19 percent say it's unacceptable; in the U.K., 25 percent;
in Australia and Spain, 26 percent; and in Japan, 28 percent.
5. On Republicans
In the United States, sharp partisan divides were seen on five
out of the eight issues. While 68 percent of Republicans said
abortion is morally unacceptable, only 39 percent of Democrats said
so. More than half of Republicans (54 percent) were opposed to
homosexuality, compared to just 31 percent of Democrats, and almost
half were against premarital sex, compared to a quarter of Democrat
Partisan divides were much smaller when it came to gambling,
contraception, and alcohol. Boozing, spending money, and preventing
pregnancies—the three things we can all agree on here. God bless
L.A. Sheriff’s Department Didn’t Disclose Massive Surveillance Program, Because People Wouldn’t Like It
comes the story of the newest toys acquired by the Los Angeles
Sheriff's Department (LASD), former war-zone tech that allows "wide
area surveillance." Camera systems are attached to civilian
airplanes and can capture 10,000 times the area of a police
chopper. The system is provided by a company called
Persistent Surveillance Systems that got it start, where else,
designing wares for the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Police are excited about having the power to spy from the air in
real time, recording video to play back later in order to track the
movement of residents in places like Compton. Cops also knew,
though, that this new ability of theirs might not play well with
the public they still theoretically work for. Techdirt
flags this portion of the report
by the Center for Investigative Reporting:
"The system was kind of kept confidential from
everybody in the public," (LASD Sgt.) Iketani said. "A lot of
people do have a problem with the eye in the sky, the Big Brother,
so in order to mitigate any of those kinds of complaints, we
basically kept it pretty hush-hush."
You know who else had a problem with being monitored? The
Los Angeles Police Department, whose officers destroyed
equipment attached to their police cars that would record (audio
only!) their interactions with residents. The LASD itself,
meanwhile, was the recent target of a federal investigation
after trying to hide an informant that was going to testify to
corruption and excessive force at the department.
Can someone explain to me why Los Angeles needs two police
h/t From the Tundra
The immediate "crisis" portion of the standoff involving the
federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Nevada rancher Cliven
Bundy over his cattle grazing on federal land
ended last week.
Whether this will be end of Bundy's troubles with the BLM, who
have been in court with him over his refusal to pay fees to them
for decades, remains to be seen, with the Bundys reporting that
received registered mail from the BLM this week that they
haven't opened yet.
I blogged about a lot of the
factual background of the conflict here, with links to some
relevant court documents.
This story really caught fire with lots of deeply emotional
people on both sides of a rough "state vs. citizens" rift in
American consciousness. This is even though the specifics of the
story don't resonate with that many people's lives—few of us are
ranchers or have armed government agencies literally stealing the
instruments of our livelihood. On the other side, few of us feel
that the order and safety or our lives are seriously threatened by
recalcitrant ranchers or "militia members."
The specifics of the case also create many annoying ambiguities
for libertarians, especially those who pay fealty to the "rule
of law" over a kind of screw-you anarchism. A huge show of
force against citizens attempting to peacefully protest seems like
it could be overkill even if you think in general, the law has
gotta be enforced. (But if you really believe that, you can't blink
when recalcitrant people have to be shot dead at times.)
Depending on who you identified with, you could see people on
both the government and Bundy sides as making ominous threats,
either implicitly or explicitly. Those sorts of facts don't speak
to who is right or wrong in principle, but in a story involving
humans in conflict people like to feel sympathy for their side's
behavior and demeanor, not just their position in the conflict.
It can be tricky, because the type of person who lets conflicts
with the state get this far is apt to be, temperamentally, the type
to do and say lots of things even a normally sympathetic person in
principle might want to shy away from. Similarly, one need not
believe in Bundy's eccentric political science vision of where
legitimate American authority lies—to him, counties and states, not
the federal government—to feel he's been ill-treated by the
Very deep questions of duties to obey and the source of private
property underlie this conflict. (And slightly less but still deep
questions about federal land ownership and management vs. the
prerogatives of states, counties, and citizens.) Let's just say I'd
never seen so many people who do not consider themselves
rock-ribbed conservatives rising up indignantly to defend the
unquestionable value of and need to obey absentee land ownership
based on the ukase of the powerful and faraway over the rights of
indigenous people to work the lands before this case.
I write all this, by the way, not having done a thorough
historical investigation into the specific facts that might
establish proper title to the land in question. Neither am I sure
about the eco-science behind exactly how and why the presence of
Bundy's cattle is or is not harming in a vital and meaningful way
the desert tortoise. (Please forgive me for being the only person
who has written about the conflict who hasn't mastered those two
It says interesting things about where we stand as a citizenry,
though, the different ways politicians and pundits have reacted to
whatever version of the facts of the matter had sunk through their
Herewith, some interesting reactions covering the waterfront of
who we are an an American people:
• Sen. Harry Reid (I have not been convinced that stories that
connect this crackdown on the Bundys to a land grab for the Chinese
are true) says that the Bundys and those on their side
are "domestic terrorists." Well, they did stand up to oppose
what was as legitimate a government orders, as government order
legitimacy goes, as one could find.
•Sen. Rand and former Congressman Ron Paul are, not surprisingly
given that one of their core political constituencys are people who
think the federal government and its agents often
acts as bullies in enforcing not-always-legitimate demands, are
sympathetic to Bundy's plight. Republican politicians less
inclined to want the support of the insurrectionist-minded are
avoiding the topic and certainly not cheering on Bundy.
•The New York Times thinks
Bundy is just a deadbeat, and wonders if the right would cheer
were his supporters armed Black Panthers protecting a black family
from eviction. Gracy Olmstead of the American
Conservative, writing at the Federalist, also sees
fighting more for his own personal gain than grand political
principle. Glenn Beck, often a hero to elements of the more radical
American right, did one of his usual not-entirely-predictable turns
on the Bundy matter, saying he wants the Bundys' angry supporters
to "un-friend him" on Facebook, saying he's all about peace,
•My favorite opposing views, presenting the limits of this
debate most colorfully,
come from Kevin Williamson in National Review, who
didn't mind saying that he could praise a little sedition, even if
the "the law" isn't on its side:
Is government our servant, or is it our master? The Left
has long ago answered that question to the satisfaction of its
partisans, who are happy to be serfs so long as their birth control
is subsidized. But the Right always struggles with that question,
as it must. The thing that conservatives seek to conserve is the
American order, which (1) insists that we are to be governed by
laws rather than by men and (2) was born in a violent revolution.
Russell Kirk described the conservative ideal as “ordered liberty,”
and that is indeed what we must aim for — keeping in mind that it
is order that serves liberty, not the other way around. And it is
the government that exists at the sufferance of the people,
including such irascible ones as Mr. Bundy, not the other way
Prudential measures do not solve questions of principle. So
where does that leave us with our judgment of the Nevada
insurrection? Perhaps with an understanding that while Mr. Bundy’s
stand should not be construed as a general template for civic
action, it is nonetheless the case that, in measured doses, a
little sedition is an excellent thing.
And paired with that, popping in as if from Central Casting to
stand for the "Left" Williamson poked at, were the folks at
ThinkProgress with a detailed think piece on, hm, what sort of
excuse can we come up with, after the BLM's unfortunate standdown,
make sure that Mr. Bundy still ends up locked in a cage?
Those, then, are two of the (at least) three Americas. The third
probably thinks that Bundy should have probably just given up
somewhere along the line, but Christ leave him alone now, and also
probably that at a certain point essentially sending in an army on
such a mild form of disobedience might be overkill. But alas,
that's what it all has to come down to, when dealing with a man who
thinks he's in the right, and has friends who agree with him.
On WLS AM 89 radio in Chicago political reporter Bill Cameron featured an interview with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel that shows just why math is soooooo darn hard for politicians.
The interview was about Rahm trying to get hundreds of millions of our tax dollars to be set aside and wasted–er, bestowed–on a presidential library for Barack Obama.
In the radio clip Rahm says the following:
“I have been to both the Lincoln library, the Carter library down in Atlanta, President Clinton’s library in Little Rock, and seen the economic and cultural energy ...
Hillary Clinton Details Her Hard Choices, Startup Funding on the Rise, Earthquake Hits Mexico: P.M. Links
- Hillary Clinton’s new
book will be titled Hard Choices and will discuss her
time as secretary of state. It will be released in June, though no
doubt every single sentence will be picked over by the press before
anybody gets the chance to read through the thing (assuming anybody
outside the press or the DC Beltway even wants to).
- An Ohio teacher has been fired for reportedly
telling a black student that the country didn’t need another black
Funding for startup companies in the United States is on the
rise, up 57 percent for the first quarter of 2014. Companies like
Dropbox and Airbnb scored major financing deals.
- A New Jersey woman is suing the state for
refusing to let her get a license plate that spelled out
- A magnitude 7.5
earthquake struck southern Mexico this morning. There were no
reports of major injuries.
- A Florida man is accused of
suffocating his infant son trying to get him to stop crying
while he played video games.
notion that conservatives not only oppose liberal health care
reforms but are vigorously working to deny Americans access is a
popular one on the left. But it is possible to deem Obamacare
destructive policy and still support expanding affordable health
coverage, writes David Harsanyi. The GOP has never been able
to settle on a set of reforms, but Republicans have been using the
exact same rhetoric for years, and it embraces the imperative of
expanding affordable health care.
In Geneva yesterday the U.S.,
Ukraine, Russia, and the European Union reached "a
compromise of sorts" on how to deal with the tempestuous and
bloody situation stirred by pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine. The
problem is, those separatists don't agree to a word it.
highlights the diplomats' decisions:
- All "illegal armed groups" in Ukraine must immediately lay down
- All "illegally seized buildings" in eastern Ukraine must
immediately be returned to that nation's authorities.
- All protesters in eastern Ukraine, who have been pushing to
join the Russian Federation, will be granted amnesty by the
Ukrainian government unless they are judged to be guilty of capital
The group, which includes Secretary of State John Kerry and
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, issued a joint statement
assuring that these are "concrete steps to de-escalate tensions
and restore security."
President Obama was skeptical. "My hope is that we actually do
see follow-through over the next several days," he
said, "but I don't think, given past performance, that we can
count on that." So far, his assessment seems correct.
Denis Pushilin, a self-proclaimed leader of the self-declared
"People's Republic of Donetsk," says his men won't budge. "Lavrov
did not sign anything for us, he signed on behalf of the Russian
Federation," he defied.
Pushilin continues to maintain that only a referendum for secession
will end the armed occupation of government buildings.
Another self-proclaimed separatist leader, Oleksandr Khriakov,
"demanded that Euromaidan protesters pack up their camp in Kyiv
according to Radio Free Europe.
This may not be the only problem for the Ukrainian government,
though. Adrey Illarionov of the Cato Institue and formerly chief
economic adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin says that
Ukraine was "sold" and "betrayed" by the Geneva agreement. He lists
some serious problems he sees with the
- Ukraine de facto agreed to "external control" - matters
relating to the exclusive jurisdiction of the national government
in domestic policy, will now be addressed with respect to the
external forces of Ukraine. These external forces are the West
- In the document there is no requirement to withdraw from
the territory of Ukraine, Russian troops, including GRU, FSB, MTR
and others. That is, their presence in Ukraine is now de
- The document says nothing about Russian aggression. There is
not a word about the war being waged by the Putin regime against
Ukraine. So now even the fact of Russian aggression is
Read more Reason coverage of Ukraine here.
If you live in one of the two states where marijuana is fully
legal, or in one of the 20 where it's available for those with a
prescription, you may be in the market for the perfect 4/20 gift
Luckily, we've got you covered. Oh, and while many of the
companies that manufacture our recommended products do not intend
for their products to be used for marijuana, we doubt they'll check
up on you after you buy them.
A word of warning to liberals. Maybe you should turn off your computer and find a nice corner to curl up and suck your thumb. Presenting your foolish opinions to public ridicule online can give you PTSD:
A Washington woman has come under fire over claims her PTSD caused by online harassment and Twitter trolls is equal to that of military veterans.
Melody Hensley was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder 16 months ago following online abuse, which she says is the result of her being an outspoken feminist and atheist.
She caused ...
George Orwell probably never would have written 1984 if he had realized that what he called oligarchical collectivists and we call Democrats would use it as an instruction manual. It might seem tyranny is intuitive to any brute, but the subtleties of coercing thought by subverting language are too sophisticated for even the most pointy-headed moonbats to come up with on their own — not that there is anything terribly refined about the ham-fisted “up is down” rhetoric excreted by Harry Reid.
Federal attempts to drive Cliven Bundy out of business ...
This is telling. Greenwald associate Trevor Timm compares people who think Edward Snowden works with Russia to 9/11 Truthers, and is immediately swarmed with outraged comments from his fans who are 9/11 Truthers.
Trevor Timm vs 9/11 Truth
At 4:00 pm ET, I will start my annual Good Friday radio show. This is a show a lot of RedState readers have tuned in to over the years. You can listen live here and later will be able to get a download of the show.
You can call in at 1-800-WSB-TALK as well if you’d like to participate.
The show will be live from 4pm to 8pm tonight on the nation’s most listened to news/talk station, WSB.