Framing the Dialogue

Fuzzy Math

I was having dinner with some friends a while back.  I was speaking to one of the husbands about fuel prices and was interested in his thoughts as he works in the industry.  One issue that seems to be in dispute often is the lack of refining capacity.  During our discussion, he said something that blew me away.

He said that he used to pay attention to politics, but it drove him crazy and he just started tuning out.  I have heard a few people call in to talk shows expressing the same sentiment and I have a hard time understanding that attitude.  How do you deny knowledge that you already have?

I remember when I didn’t pay attention to issues and that was a simpler time, but I consider the time that I became aware an awakening.  I can agree that ignorance is bliss, but it is their attitudes that allow politicians to get away with what I call Fuzzy Math.

Then candidate Obama made a campaign promise to give tax cuts to 95% of Americans.  This promise was repeated often and to my knowledge was never questioned by the mainstream media.  I was hoping for some scrutiny of the campaign rhetoric, but was disappointed as usual.  History was made and we now have President Obama.

I was surprised to see an article this morning on Yahoo about the campaign promise.  It seems that Obama addressed this in his weekly radio address:

“I’m pleased to announce that this morning the Treasury Department began directing employers to reduce the amount of taxes withheld from paychecks, meaning that by April 1st, a typical family will begin taking home at least $65 more every month,”

Who doesn’t want tax cuts?  But what are the costs? Statistics can be misleading and I hate to use them too much, but there are some simple ones to expose Obama’s fuzzy math.

  • United States Population estimate:                                      303,824,640

Assuming that they are all Americans, and assuming that 95% get tax cuts, that would mean:

  • Americans getting tax cuts:                                                 288,633,408 

This makes Obama sound like Reagan, right?  Here is where it gets fuzzy:

  • Number of taxpayers:                                                           138,400,000

Using “real” math (i.e. subtraction) that means:

  • No. of Americans getting a tax cut yet don’t pay taxes:      150,233,408 

How does the treasury intend to give tax cuts to folks who don’t pay taxes?  I wish someone would ask our government how they could accomplish this.  Maybe this will be another biblical miracle like when Jesus fed a whole crowd with only a few fish and loaves of bread. 

Some might speculate that when you give a “tax cut” to someone who does not pay taxes it is welfare.  I agree.

We probably can attribute the acceptance of fuzzy math to the deteriorating public education system.  We have been treated to statistics about public school graduates not being able to read.  It would follow that they probably don’t know simple math either.

Maybe politicians can use fuzzy math because too many folks are tuned out!

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