Re, re: The New “One Finger” Math
One hesitates to take Pat “The Finger” Crowley’s comments on taxation too seriously. His branch of mathematics, after all, takes progressivism to be a fundamental principle and unionism to be the standard of comparison.
That said, anybody who finds merit in his question marks should consider, first, that he highlights two components of taxation, with no argument as to why the others ought to be ignored. Second, readers should note that the report (PDF) measures according to government revenue — that is, how much the government actually takes in. If, for the sake of argument, Rhode Island’s high sales tax is driving customers out of state, then it wouldn’t be surprising that the state ranks low for revenue from that source.
A similar consideration ought to be made with respect to the income tax:
State or local individual income taxes are levied in 42 states. Based upon FY 2005 data reported by the Bureau of the Census, Rhode Island ranks 21st highest on individual income tax revenues per $1,000 of state personal income and 16th highest per capita.
Note that Rhode Island’s standing slips when the measure is number of people rather than amount of income. One can infer that a significant number of lower income citizens (relative to the country) don’t pay very much in taxes. Distributing the total revenue by income yields a small number; distributing the number by population yields a higher number; therefore, some portion of the population’s income is not counted. And indeed, the data bears that out:
|% of Total Income||% of Total Tax Paid|
|$30,001 to $50,000||13%||9%|
|$50,001 to $75,000||16%||12%|
|$75,001 to $100,000||14%||12%|
|$100,001 to $200,000||21%||23%|
Considering that many of Rhode Island’s other taxes affect mainly those citizens who are most productive for the economy (and, therefore, wealthier than the average), such as business people. The relevant concern is that Rhode Island’s tax regime will drive out (or beat down) precisely the folks who keep the state afloat. And indeed, I’ve shown that this is happening.
As Mike commented to Andrew’s post, those whose relationship with the state provides them a net gain “are facing a future of ‘heads you win, tails we lose.'” In other words, the Pat Crowleys of the state had best learn to work within the boundaries of our right-wing math, because it tends to jibe with financial realities.