Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Tax Factor

I'm not one for getting taxed exorbitantly but I'm also not one who wants to just close his eyes and pretend that raising taxes is inherently bad and unnecessary.
This issue came to mind after reading that the state of Illinois was increasing taxes by 66%. 66% sounds like a huge number because percentage-wise, it is. It is also somewhat misleading. Their rates changed from 3% to 5% which for all those that weren't math majors is a whopping... 2% increase...

Heaven help us.

I'm sorry if I don't sound sympathetic, I am, it's just that when you spend more than you're taking in, things need to be done about it. If you believe in the things you're spending on, find ways to actually pay for it. Every little bit helps or hurts, depending on the which direction that little bit is going, but if a jump from 3% to 5% is going to help fix that budget gap, it needs to be done. It seems that politically the numbers and percentages game is thriving much to the nation's detriment. Describing that hike as a 66% adjustment is accurate mathematically but it's use only serves to leave the reader with an unimportant number. Thankfully the article I read that announced this did first mention the actual change from 3 to 5. Still, it is worth noting that when numbers are thrown around, especially in politics, there are ways to use factual statements deceptively and we need to be aware of that. Inevitably we'll hear somewhere down the road that the state's administration is horrible for springing a 66% tax hike on the people. Critical thinking dictates asking the whys and hows of numbers, and we should.

1 comment:

phat said...

gotta love how numbers can be used to make a small change look very large.

Although the tax hike was not large, sometimes I think that cities, state, federal governments look at raising taxes first instead of looking at ways to cut spending. I just hate paying taxes when I know that it is going into wasteful and purposeless spending.