Monday, January 23, 2017

Bad graph : Requiem for the American Dream (2015)

A Bad Graph from the movie Requiem for the American Dream (2016) at about 42 minutes in

the graph is labeled at left  "% of total tax revenue"

Noam Chomsky : During the period of great growth of the economy the 50s and the 60s, but in fact earlier, taxes on the wealthy were far higher. Corporate taxes were much higher, taxes on dividends were much higher, simply taxes on wealth were much higher. The tax system has been redesigned , so that the taxes that are paid by the very wealthy are reduced and correspondingly, the tax burden on the rest of the population is increased.

My first thought was that "% of total tax revenue" meant the percentage of all Federal tax revenue – which seemed like an odd measure. My second thought was that graph sure doesn't show much in way of business cycles. That would be because they labeled it "% of total tax revenue" instead of the less ambiguous "tax rate." It turns out that the tax rate on "dividends were much higher" but the "taxes that are paid by the very wealthy are" increased and, contrary to Chomsky, not "reduced."

graph showing capital gains tax rate and the inflation adjusted revenue

towards the end

The tendencies we've been describing within American society; unless they are reversed, it's going to be an extremely ugly society. It's a society based on Adam Smith's vile maxim: all for myself, nothing for anyone else. A society in which normal human instincts and emotions of sympathy and solidarity and mutual support are driven out. That's a society so ugly I don't know who would want to live in it. I wouldn't want my children to. 
If only Adam Smith had some sort of Theory of Moral Sentiments. Of course, "all for myself, nothing for anyone else," was described by Adam Smith as a "vile maxim" and was not his vile maxim.

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