Taxes and spelling

8/09/2005

A current affair (ACA) is, more about
together with its competing alternative Today Tonight, esophagitis
one of those lame ‘current affairs’ TV programs, nurse
which provide simplistic coverage and advice. A typical story will be around five minutes providing fairly useless information1. As an example, a story of people troubled with heavy debts will suggest ‘use a budget’, or a story on obesity will tell you ‘eat less and exercise’.

Last night ACA had a story on the rich paying less taxes than ‘the battlers’ or common people. The program asked how come that rich people pay only 30% (company tax) or even 25% (after tax deductions) when people in a salary pay up to 48.5% (the highest marginal tax)? Then the program went on the existence of ‘loopholes’ and people creating companies to avoid paying taxes.

One of the assumptions behind ACA’s reasoning is that the government actually has a natural right to take a large proportion of people’s income, which sounds very dubious (P.S. 2005-09-12: Catallaxy has a post covering this issue). In addition, people using legal means of reducing taxation are somewhat acting unethically. The fact that many people with higher incomes actually own a company, from where they derive their income, did not seem to bother the writers of the story.

I would say that the argument should be put in a different way. The problem is not that rich people are paying too little, but that people with lower incomes are paying too much. It seems very reasonable to me that people try to minimise payments to the state, from which they perceive they do not get good value in return.

Ironically, the same night ACA had a story on how poor was the quality of current public education, which is producing students who are unable to spell words. It seems that, again, the writers of the program did not relate people’s unwillingness to be highly taxed with the way our money is spent. Incidentally, the comparison of school students’ ability to spell with the spelling ability of people who are thirty to fifty years older was completely meaningless. There are so many differences between the cohorts that attributing differences on spelling ability only to different teaching philosophies is preposterous (apart from the use of different sets of words).

Once again, ACA provides a populist and insubstantial approach to current affairs coverage.

1 You may be wondering why was Luis watching the program anyway? Some times I watch TV just to have something to complain about (masochism?).

Filed in economics, politics

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