Look: I am eager to learn stuff I don't know--which requires actively courting and posting smart disagreement.

But as you will understand, I don't like to post things that mischaracterize and are aimed to mislead.

-- Brad Delong

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Everything that appears on this blog is the copyrighted property of somebody. Often, but not always, that somebody is me. For things that are not mine, I either have obtained permission, or claim fair use. Feel free to quote me, but attribute, please. My photos and poetry are dear to my heart, and may not be used without permission. Ditto, my other intellectual property, such as charts and graphs. I'm probably willing to share. Let's talk. Violators will be damned for all eternity to the circle of hell populated by Rosanne Barr, Mrs Miller [look her up], and trombonists who are unable play in tune. You cannot possibly imagine the agony. If you have a question, email me: jazzbumpa@gmail.com. I'll answer when I feel like it. Cheers!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

In Which I Berate a Columnist - AGAIN!

It's been almost a year and a half since I last felt the need to eviscerate award winning columnist and author Mitch Albom.   Maybe I need to read his columns more often.  By no coincidence whatsoever, the subject is again the same, and Albom once again makes the inexcusable error of conflating marginal and effective tax rates, in an article titled "Tax Cut Debate is Missing the Point."

In a quixotic fit of disgust, I sent him this email today.

Mr. Albom -

The one who misses the point is you.  Your column "Tax Debate is Missing the Point" is fundamentally wrong - overall, and in nearly every detail.  It displays a level of ignorance that is at the tea party level.  For a professional journalist this shameful and irresponsible.

You ignore the difference between marginal and effective tax rates, so everything you say about tax liabilities is wrong.  You do not realize that the effective rate paid by the top 1% - actual millionaires - is less than 20%, and even less for everyone else.  Nobody pays the 40% rate you used in your horribly misleading example.   You compounded the error by citing a family of four, but using single filer rates; and you got the bracket limit wrong - by over $120,000!

For your convenience, here are the actual bracket limits, which took me 10 seconds to find using Google.


Before you comment on taxes again, please take the time to understand what the brackets are, how they work, and what the effective rate means.

I spent a good chunk of yesterday graphing effective rates since the Reagan administration, with data from the Tax Foundation.  You can see the results here.


Unless and until you can get the facts right, you are abrogating your responsibility as a journalist by expounding on a topic about which you have no knowledge or understanding.  Please do the minimal amount of research it will take to get your facts straight - and I would be more than happy to help you with that - and issue a retraction of today's disastrous column.

You see, if the history of taxation proves anything, it is that taxes haven't been lower since before the Great Depression, and that continuously lowering taxes has led to stagnation in the economy, and enormous deficits.  Make no mistake - the deficit is the direct result of tax rates being too low, especially for top earners.



And, by the way, letting the Bush tax CUTS expire - according to law - is eliminating cuts, cuts so irresponsible and ill-considered that even supply-sider Bruce Bartlett didn't like them.


Stop calling it "raising taxes."

Best regards,



nanute said...

Have you heard back from him yet? Sending a private e mail was more than gracious.

Jazzbumpa said...

No, and I didn't hear back the other time either. He has nothing to say to me.

But his column is really a bunch of horse shit.