Making it all up

A recent letter writer who refers to himself as a critical thinker makes a number of points to bolster his argument that a recent article of mine on taxes muddies the water by throwing in unrelated facts. To the contrary, the writer has alternately misrepresented and altered what I had to say. For the third time, he has completely twisted an argument of mine and then gone on refute his own fabricated version. Here’s how he does it:

Criticism #1: “The writer threw in all of the other taxes (local, county, school, state, sales, etc.) when talking about the 47 percent but conveniently left them out when talking about the taxes that the rich pay.”

False. In my article I said: “The top 10 percent who make 46 percent of all earned income pay 49 percent of all taxes combined.”

Criticism #2: “The rich also pay these taxes and, since they make more, spend more, and buy more expensive things, they pay more taxes than the lower income people.”

False. In my article, I said: “The top 10 percent who make 46 percent of all earned income pay 49 percent of all taxes combined, while the other 90 percent of Americans who earn the remaining 54 percent of all earned income pay 51 percent of all taxes combined.” The critic’s statement is wrong on all counts: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics,, the top ten percent do not make more or spend more in total than the other 90%” though of course, as individuals they spend more on expensive items than do individuals in the other 90%.

Criticism 3: “They ‘(‘the rich’) already pay more under the ‘regressive’ system but are penalized further under the ‘progressive’ system.”

Not as a percentage of their income. This criticism confuses tax rates (percentages of income) and actual amounts paid by individuals with rates and amounts paid in total by the entire group in an income bracket. In my article, I say: Higher income earners do not pay more as a percentage of their income under a regressive tax system. As a percentage of income, regressive taxes favor neither low or high income earners Nor do high income earners pay more as a percentage of the total of all regressive taxes collected. Progressive tax systems do tax expendable income at a higher rates than income necessary for basic living.

Criticism $4: “We all pay more for everything because the taxes paid by the business owners and manufacturers have to be included in the price for goods and services for them to make money. The rich are not somehow immune to this.”

Extraneous. In my article, I did not mention, much less deny this incontestable fact. Actually, I could not agree more.

In summary, all of the criticisms above are distortions of the contents of my original article. They are not examples of critical thinking. Real critical thinkers discover and process evidence. They do not invent or deliberately misinterpret it. Facts, not “alternative facts” (untruths) are their best friends. Critical thinkers do not make things up.

Tim Mannello


Submitted by E-Mail