Thursday, April 22, 2010

D6: Zapf’s and DeMaio’s Troubles with Numbers

This CityBeat article sums it up fairly well. Carl’s agenda only involves advancing Carl and he seems to have found an easy ally in Zapf who also is very eager to please.

Number soup

San Diego City Councilmember Carl DeMaio earns a fistful of turds this week for introducing Lorie Zapf, a candidate for the open District 6 seat, on stage at the Fiorina event.

These turds aren’t because DeMaio’s a gay Republican and Zapf has made statements in the past that homosexuals should be kept from public office. No, this time it’s another form of hypocrisy: DeMaio, who’s backing a ballot measure to revamp the city’s contract-bidding system, prides himself on his number-crunching integrity, and Zapf has proven she’s willing to bend tax data for political points.

Here’s a statistic Zapf blurted out when it was her turn at the podium:

“Did you know the average American will be paying more in taxes this year than we spend on food, clothing and shelter combined?”

No, we did not know that—because it’s bullshit.

Zapf’s claim is a bastardization of a claim made by The Tax Foundation, a think tank based in Washington, D.C. By its calculations, the government will collect more in tax revenue this year than Americans, collectively, will spend on those basic necessities. The fact is, this has been the case since 1976.

But, because America’s tax system is progressive—the more you make, the higher your tax rate—an average cannot be accurately extrapolated, and any attempt at correlation is bogus. One cannot simply take the total for the nation and apply it to the individual citizen. If you could, you’d also be able to make claims like:

“Did you know that the average Californian will spend 40 hours in a state prison this year?”

“Did you know that the average Californian is 12.5 percent Asian?”

“Did you know the average Californian produces six barrels of crude oil per year?”

The Tax Foundation itself suggests that the average individual’s tax burden is about 26 percent. That’s still lower than the 28.5 percent of earnings the U.S. Department of Labor estimates the average American family spends on clothing, food and shelter.

1 comment:

bobrien said...

San Diego Politico,

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