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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Comments

As a cat-owning "wastrel" (unemployed person) with dubious kidneys, I find this editorial to be somewhat wanting on the inclusiveness front.

But as I'll be unconscious again shortly, I suppose it doesn't really matter.

Ms. Xeno,

John forgot to mention that kittens will be drowned as well.

I suppose, once again, they're depending on the inability of large numbers of Americans to understand the distinction between net income and gross income. If your net income is $350,000 (and that's after you deducted your new Ford Expedition and your home office as business expenses) then you're not on the verge of bankruptcy. And since hiring another employee would tend to reduce net income and therefore taxes paid (at least in the short term) the tax isn't a disincentive to hire people.

But see if you can find a single member of our media who's willing (or able) to explain this.

Along those same lines, the article's author added the following note at the bottom, in an apparent attempt to scare readers into thinking the tax would be far more widely applicable than it actually would be:

A study by Phoenix Marketing International found 107,355 of the state’s 2.4 million households, or 4.4 percent, were worth more than $1 million.
Hey, what an interesting and yet completely irrelevant factoid. Net worth has nothing to do with it, of course; as long as these 4.4% of households aren't pulling down a million dollars every year, they wouldn't be subject to the tax.

Not that it's surprising to see the business press misleading their readers to protect the rich, of course, but I found that one pretty amusing.

Net worth has nothing to do with it, of course; as long as these 4.4% of households aren't pulling down a million dollars every year, they wouldn't be subject to the tax.

And even if they were, taxing the beejeezus out of 4.4% of households doesn't sound too bad to me.

John:
What do you think is going on in the head of that reporter? Is he thinking, "Heh heh, I'll put another one over on our stupid readers to serve my corporate masters," or is it really possible that a reporter for the Phoenix Business Journal does not understand the difference between net worth and net income? I'd love to understand how this really works.

By the way, the reporter, Mike Sunnucks, is listed as an "expert" at The Goldwater Institute. But bizjournals.com is a national site, so the Arizona statistic about the number of households with a net worth over $1 million was probably added by an editor in Phoenix.

What do you think is going on in the head of that reporter?

No idea—I actually found it so misleading that I thought I must be missing something. I think the intent was to say "there are more people with a million bucks out there than you might think", which I suppose could be interesting info on its own, but in the context of that article I don't see what could be the point other than to imply "and they're all going to be subject to this tax."

To some degree, of course, the misapprehension is in the part of the readers. The article is trying to say, "All kinds of people are millionaires these days, so this tax may well be a threat to _YOU_. Who are you going to believe, this article or your lying, empty wallet??"

Now, _I_ read an article like that and think, "I ain't worth so much as one percent of a million dollars and I seriously doubt anyone I know well is even ten times better off than me. But everyone I know needs health care, and those millionaires can't stay millionaires with a sh#tload of sick employees. Therefore I am in favor of the tax."

Whereas your average Bizness Journal reader somehow seems to think, "I've got the first 10% of that million sunk into my house, I'm almost there, the other 90% should be easy, so I'm gonna be a millionaire someday. When that day finally arrives and My Ship Comes In, I'm not gonna want that pesky tax being a thorn in my side. Also I've got good healthcare right now, they couldn't ever ever possibly screw me over and take my savings away, so I don't have to worry about getting sick ever in my life. Therefore I am against the tax."

Never underestimate the power of self-delusion, it's a mighty thing.

Yeah, I'd agree that the intention is to feed into the readers' own self-delusions. And in fact we've discussed the "I'm going to be a millionaire someday" delusion (which I call the jackpot syndrome) before.

I read an article a few years ago that said that among those in the know, "millionaire" is no longer used to refer to someone with a million dollars in net worth (because that's become so common); rather, you're only really a millionaire these days if you make at least a million dollars a year.

among those in the know, "millionaire" is no longer used to refer to someone with a million dollars in net worth (because that's become so common); rather, you're only really a millionaire these days if you make at least a million dollars a year.

And yet, for the general public, "millionaire" has long meant (and probably still does mean) "someone with a net worth of a million dollars or more." And that's how the Chamber - which seems to be the originator of the term "millionaire's tax" - likes it. Think of all the retired folks in Arizona with a paid-for house and some savings in the bank. Their net worth approaches a million dollars, but their income level means they're never going to see an increase in taxes from this bill. Wouldn't you want to scare the crap out of those old folks (who are all benefiting from government health insurance, by the way) so they'll light up the phone lines to their Congressman's office? You would if you're the US Chamber of Commerce.

My theory for how the story got written is this: 1) The Chamber of Commerce puts out a press release on the "millionaire's tax", neglecting to include an estimate for the number of small businesses which would be affected, because the number would be disappointingly small. 2) Mike Sunnucks, ace reporter at bizjournal.com, doesn't look at the press release and say, "This is bullshit, these people can't even make a guess as to how many people will be affected", and, instead, spends about 20 minutes writing up a story based on the press release - and only the press release, because no other sources are quoted. 3) An editor at the Phoenix office of bizjournal.com (which is probably located in Mumbai) sees Mike's story, and says, "Hey, shouldn't there be an estimate of the number of small businesses affected?" Not wanting to spend too much time doing research, he googles "millionaires Arizona" and gets the statistic cited which he tacks on to the end the story - in bold, because he's proud of his contribution to the honorable craft of journalism. 4) Some jackass named John Caruso, a regular reader of bizjournals.com, sees the story, writes a blog post about it, and provokes me into spending more time thinking about this damn story than the entire staff of bizjournals.com has spent to produce it.

Yeah, I think that's about it (and I also appreciated the bold). And as for point 4, that same jackass has provoked me into spending more time than I can tell you thinking about all kinds of pointless crap, so I feel your pain. I say we punish him with an extended Jonas Brothers/Miley Cyrus songfest.

I think the intent was to say "there are more people with a million bucks out there than you might think", "and they're all going to be subject to this tax."

Great! I was afraid the tax would not be effective in raising revenue because there would not be enough people to pay it but, now, thanks to this article I can see I was wrong and so, I fully support it.


It not my fault my mommy are rich. Don't hait me bekawz of that, or bekaws I are kute.

Wha type of breed of dog is that in the picture????

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