Tuesday, May 28, 2013

How the Wall Street Journal Thinks about Class

How Much Will Your Taxes Jump
This is an oldie that has been sitting in my draft folder for awhile. With the onset of summer, I finally have some time to comments on it. This comes from a story in the Wall Street Journal at the beginning of 2013 discussing the impact of the American Taxpayer Relief Act. Two aspects of this image really stand out.

First, it is worth noting the income levels of the people described in the image. With the exception of the retired couple making $180,000 dollars a year (putting them in the top quintile of income in America), everyone else in the picture is in the top 5%. So, right off the bat the image is heavily skewed in favor of the richest individuals in America, completely ignoring the impact of the legislation on most people in the US. This is a great example of Cherry Picking and Suppression of Relevant Data in that the Wall Street Journal has chosen to highlight economic situations that would be foreign to most of the people affected by the law. This creates a false impression of the impact of the law, making it appear as if most people will be paying more taxes under the new law (of the four situations described, only the retired  couple sees no increase in taxes).

In addition, notice how unhappy all the people in the image are. I am particular impressed by how upset the single person who makes $230,000 a year is. She is incredibly wealthy (in the top income bracket in the US), and I wonder why she is so unhappy. I guess what the chart really indicates is that money can't buy happiness. Snarkiness aside, this chart is clearly created with a particular ideological agenda, one that is strongly opposed to the tax increases incorporated into the American Taxpayer Relief Act. The key point is that the Wall Street Journal created this chart with a certain political agenda in mind, and the chart is designed (through Cherry Picking and Suppression of Relevant Data) to produce the conclusion the editors want. This is just a nice demonstration of how the media is anything but objective and unbiased.

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