Monday, September 08, 2003

Quit Watching My Hands! I'm Doing My Trick Now

Never let the inconvenient facts stop a story. That's the motto for a whole lot of reporters, journalists and newspaper writers. Friday's USAToday story on Alabama governor Bob Riley's campaign for a huge bump in the state income tax is one such example. The whole story is built around the conflict and drama and bad feelings stirred up by the issue. It's a pretty long, and moderately detailed story. Only one problem: it's all a lot of "so what?"

Why? Because, tossed off in the third paragraph is this: "...polls show his plan losing by a 2-to-1 ratio...." Oops! End of story, right? Nothing to report, right? Nah, the writer just acts like he didn't say that and keeps on with the charade.

The Commercial Appeal has a trio of editorials on Sunday all praising Riley and the "progressive" tax reform in language suspiciously like that used in the Tennessee Income Tax Wars just passed. Utterly bypassed in those articles is the simple truth: one billion dollars in new taxes will be extracted not from everyone, but a diminished slice of the population of the state.

The pro-income taxers in Tennessee were proudly progressive in pointing out that only 40% of Tennesseans would pay the income tax. The other 60% would drop off the tax rolls. So, clearly, a much larger tax burden would fall on a smaller percentage of people. That means a massive tax hike for those folks. No way around the math.

But that doesn't stop reporters and the press. Witness this story, mentioning the poll results. Look carefully at the pro-Riley support in the language, even from the supposedly neutral pollster!

You can gild shit all you want, but it's still shit and still stinks. No amount of wand-waving and "abra-ca-dabra" by the press will change that fact.

No comments: