How To Lie With Figures

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This is hardly the biggest deal in the world, but it caught my eye so I’m passing it along. It’s a “Taxpayer’s Statement” mailed to me by my congressman, John Bayard Taylor Campbell III, chairman of the Budget and Spending Task Force of the Republican Study Committee. Take a look at the highlighted lines:

Miscellaneous taxes sure are up! Or wait — the statement calls them “miscellaneous receipts.” Hmmm. Let’s look at the footnote:

This includes taxes from a variety of places including gaming activity fees, Dept. of Interior fees, Puerto Rico, and other sources.

“Other sources” may sound like it’s part of “taxes from a variety of places,” but it turns out it’s a completely independent clause. The vast bulk of that number, about $75 billion, is profit from the Federal Reserve’s investments that have been returned to the Treasury. But even if you read the footnote you wouldn’t know that. It just looks like the gummint is sucking up ever more of your money.

In the great game of misleading people about taxes, this is a misdemeanor at most. Maybe a parking ticket. Still, Campbell sure has gone to some lengths to make sure that taxes look high (and growing) and profit from the evil Fed is kept safely out of sight.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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