Saturday, April 24, 2010

Celebrating the Joys of April 15

New York Times article "Celebrating the Joys of April 15" (April 14th, 2010) offers an incredibly poor analysis of polling data.

According to the Gallup polls, 45 percent of Tea Party supporters have incomes under $50,000. According to a New York Times/CBS News poll, Tea Party activists are virtually the only segment of the population in which a majority feels its tax burden is unfair. Clearly, these are not the kind of folks who would cancel their anti-tax rallies just on account of not being taxed.

This could be a joke, if it weren't from the New York Times editorial page. It is not contradictory for a poll to have 50% of individuals hating the high taxes that they pay, and 50% of individuals paying no taxes. The two 50% would, in order to not be contradictory, have to be different. The author, Gail Collins, appears to assume that these are the same 50%. This is an error of the same magnitude she accuses Tea-Partiers of making. Corrections suggests that the overlap between these distributions is small.

This entire analysis lets alone the possibility that individuals pay taxes other than federal income taxes, which the Collins naturally ignores but provides an additional channel through which an apparent contradiction may be resolved.

No comments:

Post a Comment