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Check the numbers, again 

San Luis Obispo

Alexander Ward’s letter in last week’s New Times (“Check the numbers,” Aug. 21, 2008), seemed to present a powerful argument that the tax system was indeed progressive, contra the previous week’s letter by Istar Holliday (“Change the tax structure,” Aug. 14, 2008), complaining about the opposite. Then Ward had to take a swipe at liberals and their alleged inability “to read and interpret basic economic data” and to “recognize simple facts.” Ideologues always feel the need to cast aspersions against liberals, and misreport or disregard ‘simple facts’.

In Achieving Progressive Tax Reform in an Increasingly Global Economy, published in June 2007 by the Brookings Institute, the authors report “... forces of technological change, financial innovation, and globalization that have contributed to rising income inequality also present new challenges for progressive taxation. ... These forces, together with deliberate policy changes, have led to an erosion of progressivity ... and a dramatic reduction in the average tax rate facing very high-income households. ... More than half that decline is the result of declining effective corporate tax rates, as high-income households own disproportionate amounts of capital.”

Ward produces some paltry numbers and tries to fit the lower, middle, and upper classes into a span of five tax brackets, saying nothing about how much income occurs in each bracket. Sen. John McCain [R-Ariz.] says middle class is over a million. These are the people who own “disproportionate amounts of capital,” perhaps like Mr. Ward.

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