Data from an article by Richard D. Wolff, in which he footnotes The White House Office Of Budget and Management.

13 thoughts on “An Unfair Tax Burden: Citizens vs. Corporations

  1. @starluna: Your argument might be absolutely correct… but unfortunately you cannot logically draw these conclusions from the data presented. That’s the problem here: no meaningful conclusions AT ALL can be drawn from the data presented. It’s incomplete and critically lacking in context. But people see in it what they want to see in it, and people with pre-existing anti-corporate leanings tend to jump all over it without stopping to think if it means what they think it means. And I’m saying the data doesn’t mean *anything* if you don’t stop and consider the total number and average income of individual taxpayers and the total number and average income of corporations paying taxes at each sampling point… which this infographic does *not* do. I’m not suggesting that anybody should or shouldn’t be pro-corporation or anti-corporation — I’m suggesting that the data presented in this infographic is junk-by-virtue-of-being-incomplete and shouldn’t be used as evidence in support of either position.

  2. I was linked to this from another website. But I did want to respond to Jorrit’s comment about the relative decline in the difference in contributions between 1988 and 2008. I would argue that the 14% decline in inequality is not meaningful given the enormous increase in corporate income, revenue and profit relative to the stagnation in wages and income among the majority of taxpayers. It is, in short, the difference between statistical significance and clinical significance. Taxpayers are still shouldering a significantly greater federal tax burden without the concomitant benefits relative to the benefits that go to corporations.

  3. @Shawn: you are absolutely right. Especially with big numbers people look at the surface areas for comparison.

    It’s especially misleading because the ratio between corporations and citizens has actually gone down since 1988 (from 1:4.2 to 1:3.6)

  4. Awesome!! ahahahahahah!!! I’m cracking up over here!! USA TODAY!!!!!!!! aaaaahhhh ha ha ha aha ahaha.

  5. @Kingi: I still say it’s meant to be interpreted as 3D based on the red circle turning into a balloon and the blue one having bulging text. I understand what the message is, and I don’t necessarily disagree with it. I’m just pointing out that the scale of the disparity is misrepresented graphically, and I maintain that these numbers are meaningless when they are presented out of context. What if, in 2008, there were 1.1 trillion individuals and 304 billion corporations and they each made exactly five dollars and paid 20% (one dollar) in taxes? Would that be considered unfair? These are ridiculous numbers, I know, but I’m trying to show that the data as it is presented isn’t telling the whole story. So there. Neener neener neener.

  6. I thought it was good.Shawn I disagree about 3D I saw it as clearly 2D, there’s no spherical shading.it says to me that workers are the ones upholding the economy,not the corporations, yet corporations control politicians.

  7. misleading statistics / infographics piss me off so i also thought i would bring this to your attention:

    i think you took some care to make the circles proportional to each other based on the dollar figures they were representing. i say this because the relative diameters of the circles are pretty spot-on to the relative dollar amounts that they represent, so either it was intentional or an uncanny coincidence. however, it’s misleading to represent them this way, since they’re two-dimensional objects.

    so for instance in the final frame where $1.1 trillion is being compared to $304 billion, the ratio is about 3.6 to 1. but by drawing the bigger circle with a diameter of a similar 3.6:1 ratio to that of the smaller circle, you’ve actually drawn a circle that covers about 13x more area than the smaller circle (3.6^2 = 12.96).

    and it gets worse, because in your graphic the circles are clearly meant to represent three-dimensional spheres. so that same circle with 3.6 times the diameter representing 3.6 times the tax burden actually looks like a sphere about 47 times larger than the smaller sphere (3.6^3 = 46.656).

    i don’t know if you even care. but i’d bitch about it if i saw it in the usa today, so i’m bitching about seeing it in the optimist.

  8. It’s a nice-looking infographic and the data is startling at first glance, but unless you look at it on a per-capita basis and relative to income, it’s pretty meaningless.

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