Rorschach Journalism

Today’s Star Tribune article about Minnesota dropping to 23rd in state and local taxation (as a percentage of personal income) struck me as the type of balanced journalism I hope survives in some form.

It presented decreased taxes as neither inherently evil nor good. It provided broader context for all the unsubstantiated claims and counter claims about taxation made by our elected officials. It presented the data and a few varying viewpoints, and then left it for readers to individually ponder and decide on their own.

Entertaining as Hannity or Colbert? Not so much. Clear as the political hacks? Nope. Good fuel for healthy debates? Yep.

– Loveland

4 thoughts on “Rorschach Journalism

  1. Loveland, you’re losing your own edge. That story carries institutional status-quo bias. It’s rife with right-wing bias, in fact.

    You’ve taught me to pay more attention to language. TAX BURDEN, the headline screams. Taxes are automatically a burden. Something that should be lightened. The conservatives have won the battle of public perception — and the liberal commie-pinkoes at the Strib have been co-opted.

    Yes, they quote Dane Smith saying taxes actually sometimes buy useful things for the public, but he’s buried in the jump, and his quote is only two inches from the repeat of the loaded word “burden” which also appears in the jump headline. And the story fawns all over Governer Pawlenty as the man who delivered us from this evil — taxes.

    Let’s see, in Tuesday’s paper, the top B Section story showed that an increasing percentage of Minnesota roads and freeways are in poor condition. Hmmm, think there’s a connection? We don’t pay taxes, we ruin our cars by smashing into potholes and canyons. It’s OK, though, for the wealthy people who pay a smaller percentage of their income in taxes, the cost of getting their cars fixed is proportionately small. For the poorer folk, the cost of an alignment or a new wheel is a big deal. But let them drive cake. We wealthy folk will soon be driving on pay-per-view roads anyway.

    No, conservative friends, I don’t want to pay high taxes for the hell of it. But I’m OK paying high taxes if there’s a benefit to me and my community, and if paying taxes now avoids paying higher costs later, for car repair, human repair, earth repair. Didn’t any conservative get taught that there’s no free ride?

    Loveland, the Strib’s gone conservative!!!! What will we do!?!?!?!

    In the spirit of not just screaming out my position and loving how correct I am, I do like the idea that legislators and the governor are trying to reduce unnecessary and inefficient spending, which could keep taxpayers from wasting their hard-earned dough. I’d like to see, however, taxes addressed as a neutral, not an automatic evil. What do we get for our tax dollar? Is it a good spend? If it is, we should consider it a privilege to share some of our money for the common good. I don’t think that’s right or left, I think that’s a basic tenet of most world religions, including the Christian faith whose stories and principles I was taught. Jesus didn’t say “Hire a good tax lawyer so you can get out of being part of a community and helping your fellow humans.” Did he?

  2. jloveland says:

    I’m with BBenidt in terms of being willing to pay more to get more (and save more and give more), but I’m okay with the “burden” language. Any time you are required to give money to someone else it is a “burden.” It’s a burden with benefits, and my beef is that the second part is often underreported. But taxation is a burden.

    And Pawlenty does deserve credit for stopping tax increases, just as he deserves blame for the subsequent cost of inaction and underinvestment. Strib on-line is reporting that the MN unemployment rate is exceeding the national rate for the first time on record. If low taxes lead to job gains, what gives Governor?

    The taxation article didn’t reflect my viewpoint and it didn’t reflect Jason Lewis’s. I’ll take that any day.

  3. Wharton School of Business professor and thinker Jeremy Rifkin reminded us more than a decade ago that communities are what form first, governments form next, and only then–with those two entities established–do markets form. Good Grief, I can’t wait for the Church of the Holy Free Market to die off. We have it so backasswards inverted. Who mostly benefits from the commons, as Thom Hartmann calls them, anyway? Business owners do, for one, as their profit -creating employees get to work via roads created by units of government—thereby permitting the worship of commerce to commence each day.

    Remember how it took a whole year for 494 & Penn to be recreated to accomodate the mongo Best Buy campus? Who do you suppose paid for that dazzling new interchange? Who benefits the most from it?

  4. Oh, JL, you’re just wrong. But I love you anyway.
    You use things like reason and facts in your arguments — what’s the deal with that?

    And do journalists ever take the question you ask above to the governor? Not much. Great question.

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