December 10, 2007

Re, re: The New "One Finger" Math

Justin Katz

One hesitates to take Pat "The Finger" Crowley's comments on taxation too seriously. His branch of mathematics, after all, takes progressivism to be a fundamental principle and unionism to be the standard of comparison.

That said, anybody who finds merit in his question marks should consider, first, that he highlights two components of taxation, with no argument as to why the others ought to be ignored. Second, readers should note that the report (PDF) measures according to government revenue — that is, how much the government actually takes in. If, for the sake of argument, Rhode Island's high sales tax is driving customers out of state, then it wouldn't be surprising that the state ranks low for revenue from that source.

A similar consideration ought to be made with respect to the income tax:

State or local individual income taxes are levied in 42 states. Based upon FY 2005 data reported by the Bureau of the Census, Rhode Island ranks 21st highest on individual income tax revenues per $1,000 of state personal income and 16th highest per capita.

Note that Rhode Island's standing slips when the measure is number of people rather than amount of income. One can infer that a significant number of lower income citizens (relative to the country) don't pay very much in taxes. Distributing the total revenue by income yields a small number; distributing the number by population yields a higher number; therefore, some portion of the population's income is not counted. And indeed, the data bears that out:

% of Total Income % of Total Tax Paid
Under $30,000 12% 4%
$30,001 to $50,000 13% 9%
$50,001 to $75,000 16% 12%
$75,001 to $100,000 14% 12%
$100,001 to $200,000 21% 23%
Over $200,000 24% 40%

Considering that many of Rhode Island's other taxes affect mainly those citizens who are most productive for the economy (and, therefore, wealthier than the average), such as business people. The relevant concern is that Rhode Island's tax regime will drive out (or beat down) precisely the folks who keep the state afloat. And indeed, I've shown that this is happening.

As Mike commented to Andrew's post, those whose relationship with the state provides them a net gain "are facing a future of 'heads you win, tails we lose.'" In other words, the Pat Crowleys of the state had best learn to work within the boundaries of our right-wing math, because it tends to jibe with financial realities.

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

How Progressives Want It To Work

% of Total Income
Under $30,000 0%
$30,001 to $50,000 25%
$50,001 to $75,000 55%
$75,001 to $100,000 75%
$100,001 to $200,000 95%
Over $200,000 100%

Of course, since they firmly believe either that everyone believes as they do OR that people are just sheep, they refuse to seriously consider the reality that people in this country are capable of saying "Screw you!" and moving to lower-cost parts of the country where a dollar buys you three times as much as it does here, people leave their back doors unlocked at night and your nearest neighbor can't watch your television from his window.

Posted by: Greg at December 10, 2007 9:55 PM

"the Pat Crowleys of the state had best learn to work within the boundaries of our right-wing math"

I appreciate what you're saying Justin, but it ain't so right wing! We're the seventh highest taxed state. If we make it to twenty-five and try to improve from there, then we'll be right wing.

Between here and twenty fifth place, our math and our goals are just middle of the road.

Posted by: Monique at December 10, 2007 10:10 PM

Of course, Monique. Just playing off Mr. Finger's rhetoric.

Posted by: Justin Katz at December 10, 2007 10:13 PM


As difficult as it is, and I have struggled with it myself, you really need to pledge to yourself to ignore comments from people like Pat Crowley and Bobby Oliveira. The short term gratification of the exercise is not worth the legitimacy you give them. Just think of him in the duck suit, then ask yourself if he is worth the effort.

Posted by: Pragmatist at December 11, 2007 10:02 AM

No way, Pragmatist. I would argue that shining the bright light on every moronic action, word, utterance, hand gesture, etc... is important and essential. Allowing the hacks to continue to behave this way in the dark only works in their favor, not ours.

Posted by: Greg at December 11, 2007 10:08 AM

But Greg, Pragmatist has a point. Crowley and Oliviera are low level, hyperactive, cloutless, wanabee, a**-kissers who exist only to aggravate and agitate. Best to call out their BS, but not engage them.

Posted by: George at December 11, 2007 1:35 PM
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