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No Shortage of Trash Talking in Media

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I'm not a journalist, just a concerned citizen. But I'm sad to see so much of our media filled not with journalist integrity but with sarcastic jabs, clichà d rhetoric, and outright rumor mongering that seems to pass for journalism. Granted, the column, titled "Why don't we just give it all to the government?" by syndicated columnist Jonah Goldberg in the April 8, 2010 Houston Chronicle was an op-ed, but even op-eds should have some integrity. His writing is typical of the kind of sound-bite, tabloidy, attention grabbing trash that often comes from such places as Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, et. al., and to some extent, MSNBC.

For Goldberg, like his peers, there was little need for facts in this most recent of his op-eds, only spin and distortions. His analogy that the government taking 100% of your income would be romanticized by some as socialism or communism is not only misplaced and absurd, it's just plain wrong for not even communism suggests enslaving its citizens to that extent.

Pundits like Goldberg are noted for their inflammatory rhetoric with a very biased view. Responsible readers and listeners alike of this kind of mudslinging slime must now make frequent visits to or some similar web site to help us determine what is fact and what is fiction.

Goldberg does, however, make a statement that all can agree with. "But any amount of taxation can be unjust if it is used for bad reasons, is applied discriminatorily or is taken without representation."

That, my friends, is where the right and left can agree but it is also where they disagree. Where they disagree is about what would be considered taxation used for bad reasons. For example, the right appears to be disgusted with anything that would be considered welfare unless, of course, it is corporate welfare. The left rails over Congresses habit for never refusing to spend money to wage war or launch invasions but embraces any spending on social services or the environment.

In looking at taxation, Goldberg, just like all who use tax statistics to make a point, got it only half right. He stated that the top 10 percent of earners pay more than 70 percent of the income taxes. Stats like this are frequently used by the right to point out that the rich pay an unfair share of the taxes and the rest of us don't. Statistics can always be twisted to prove any point. When you include social security taxes that 70 percent number drops significantly because that tax disappears for incomes over $108,000. Throw in other taxes and the number would drop more.

One also has to realize that the top 10% of earners earn about 40% of all the income. While that still doesn't jive with their level of paying you have to remember that our tax system is, and always has been, a progressive one for a reason. Families of four with household incomes of $50,000 or less have little or no discretionary income and really can't afford to pay any tax and still be able to pay for the basic necessities of modern life in America. A family that makes $500,000 still enjoys a lavish lifestyle even though they are burdened with a higher tax rate. And when nearly half of all American households falls into that first group you can understand why the top half would have to bear the heavier burden of taxes.

Another way to look at is by wealth as opposed to income (including financial assets such as stocks and bonds). The work of economist Edward N. Wolff of New YorkUniversity shows that in 2007 the top 20% of financial wealth holders in the U.S. hold 93% of the financial wealth. The top 1% holds 43% of the wealth. Looking at it that way the wealthy actually pay less than their fair share.

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A graduate of the State University of New York at Buffalo with an MBA in 1980, John went into the banking business from 1981-1991. John went into the gymnastics business with his wife, with whom he has two children, in 1992 and grew it enough (more...)

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