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Sunday, April 06, 2008

More on the Banter at the Post Review

Wade Vitalis reacted in the comment section at the Post Review to Bob Barrett’s letter on the T bill by stating on March 26:

"My experience has been Republicans love to aggregate taxes. It seems that by using big numbers and you make it look scary and ugly which feeds peoples emotion's [sic] and fears which feeds into people's anger about taxes.

It's a stragegy [sic] that works - so you might as well keep doing it. Right?

But aggregating the $6.6 billion transportation bill and dividing it up among Minnesota families like you have simply makes fuzzy math. And is neither accurate or helpful for anyone."
So Vitalis doesn’t like aggregating taxes which leads to "fuzzy math." To aggregate taxes is to collect several types of taxes into a one category called taxes. Barrett wasn’t supposed to do that according to Vitalis.

Observe that Vitalis did exactly what he claimed Barrett was doing. Vitalis didn’t answer Barrett, but turned to writing about tax percentages: "The average person like you and I pay 11.9% and people making $350,000 pay 8.3%." Another person asked Vitalis for the source of his tax percentage information which he provided on March 29.

That source can be found here. What does that Minnesota tax document do? It aggregates taxes. Look on page 2 in columns 1-4. A couple of dozen types of taxes are aggregated into a category known as "State and local revenue." The whole document that Vitalis used to decry Barrett for aggregating taxes, aggregates taxes!

In reality, Barrett did not aggregate any numbers. He simply used the $6.6 billion total cost of the Transportation package, which figure has been commonly used in the media. Barrett attempted to show the cost to a family for their portion of that total package. Barrett even stated this cost would be paid over a ten year period. So Barrett was not trying to make any number appear larger than reality, but show the cost to an individual family. Barrett was breaking down the cost to a family level, not aggregating (summing) costs to make it appear larger than is true.

If Vitalis still wants to make his point that "The average person like you and I pay 11.9% and people making $350,000 pay 8.3%," he will have to base it on aggregated taxes because that is the cornerstone of the document to which he alludes.

With this kind of thinking, it’s no wonder that Vitalis cannot understand Barrett. Vitalis' aggregating is Barrett's and our aggravation!

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