Political Animal


ISN’T TAX POLICY INTERESTING?….HERE AT CALPUNDIT IT IS!….A couple of months ago, in a rant about the Wall Street Journal’s “lucky duckies” editorial, I noted that when you take all taxes into account, tax rates are close to the same for all income groups.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I printed a chart showing that state taxes are regressive, and concluded that “Federal income tax is progressive, but this only barely makes up for the regressive nature of state and local taxes.”

Yesterday, the New York Times finally put all the pieces together for me and showed total tax rates for all income levels. And guess what? It’s pretty flat. If you make minimum wage you pay out about 18% of your income. If you’re the CEO of Microsoft you pay out about 19%. There will undoubtedly be quibbles about the exact numbers the Times used in this analysis, but the overall picture is pretty clear: the American tax system is pretty flat already. If federal income tax (and therefore most state income taxes) moved to a flat model, the end result would a tax system that was heavily regressive. I’m sure the Wall Street Journal must be delirious over the possibility.

Thanks to Slate for the pointer.


DOING THE WRONG THING….Hesiod links to this story in the Detroit Free Press today: Heather Pebbles, an employee at a Babies R Us, noticed a baby left alone in a car in freezing weather, so she called the police and then used the store PA sytem to track down the baby’s mother. Here’s her manager’s response:

He says, ‘We know you did the right thing and all, but you can’t involve us. That guest now has a negative impression of shopping with us….We don’t need the bad publicity,’ ” Pebbles said.

Pebbles, a mother of two who had worked part-time for three years at the store on Haggerty near 8 Mile, was stunned.

“I said, ‘What’s the winning situation here?’ and he said, ‘You shouldn’t have involved us.’ ”

Pebbles said she quit, telling the manager “I won’t work for a company like this.”

The only good news is that corporate headquarters backed Pebbles and said the store manager was wrong. Sounds like maybe they should make Pebbles the store’s manager.


JOHN LOTT EXPLAINS….I got an email from Mary Rosh/John Lott this morning:

From: MaRyRoSh@aol.com
To: CalPundit@cox.net
Sent: Wednesday, January 22, 2003 5:39 AM
Subject: Sorry

You are correct. The MaRyRoSh pen name account was created years ago for an account for my children, using the first two letters of the names of my four sons. (They later got their own accounts but this one was never erased.) I shouldn?t have used it, but I didn?t want to get directly involved with my real name because I could not commit large blocks of time to discussions. (However, I never subscribed to the firearmsregprof posting hosted by Volokh.)

I guess I’ll let this pass without comment.


IT JUST GETS BETTER AND BETTER….Via Atrios, Julian Sanchez reports that John Lott ? who claims not to participate in firearms discussion groups ? has actually been participating extensively under the cybername “Mary Rosh”:

It is fortunate, since Dr. Lott pays no attention to the natterings of Usenet group participants, that his IP-twin, “Mary Rosh,” has been his indefatigable defender on those very groups in recent months. In fact, a quick search of Google Groups reveals that her extensive knowledge of Lott’s work is matched only by her passion for refuting his many critics. Lucky guy.

“Mary Rosh” has also been posting comments to Sanchez’s site:

I had Lott as a professor in the early 1990s and he was always very nice and fair to people. I can only imagine the type of hell that you all put him through if you were indeed publishing these reports without first at least asking him for comment.

Is this hilarious or what? I can’t wait to hear him explain that his wife uses the same computer he does and has been doing all this without his knowledge.

Technically, of course, I realize that this doesn’t prove anything directly about Lott’s questionable survey, but as the TV lawyers say, it goes to credibility. And his is starting to look pretty ragged.

A note to Lott’s defenders: you might want to hedge your bets on this guy. He’s beginning to look like a serial ? but clumsy ? liar.

UPDATE: Oh, this is just too rich! After I finished this post I was about to respond to an email I had gotten about an earlier Lott post. Guess who the email turned out to be from?

You guessed it: MaRyRoSh@aol.com. Our Mary is a busy girl!