Misquoted numbers give aura of authenticity to social media poster

Misquoted numbers give aura of authenticity to social media poster

10339954_10208193268010858_2140599875914448904_nTL;DR Summary:

  • The numbers are wrong, but numbers give propaganda an aura of authenticity!
  • This poster, like so many, is out of date, but lives on years later.
  • The issue the poster attacks is moot – a law to address the issue was passed in 2012!

This poster was shared into my newsfeed on Facebook.

The $1.5 trillion figure is from 2011, and the “$800 billion a year” is an estimate for ten years, not one year, and depends entirely on how “tax benefits and cash subsidies” are defined, which is a highly squishy definition created out of thin air.

  • More recent estimates put the net wealth of the top 400 wealthiest at nearly $2.5 trillion. The total wealth estimate comes from Forbes list of the top 400.
  • The “$800 billion a year” figure was an estimate in 2011 and 2012 of how much money the Federal government would collect OVER TEN YEARS if the Federal government taxed dividends[1] at ordinary income tax rates and created a surcharge on very high incomes. = The $800 billion a year number is fictitious. However, there is a large amount of lobbying over tax policy, particularly by the extremely wealthy.
  • HOWEVER, legislation to raise these taxes and surcharged was actually passed in 2012, making this propaganda poster hopelessly out of date.
  • $800 billion a year divided by 7.2 million good paying jobs is $111,111.11 per year in income. The 7.2 million number appears to have been selected because it was the estimate of the number of jobs lost in the 2008+ economic depression and is a number cited frequently in 2009 and after. In 2015, the Obama administration says it created 7.2 million jobs since the start of the recession. When the average pay comes out to the odd and high value of $111,111.11 the arbitrary number is apparent.

This is an example of how old stuff lives forever on social media, and is shared without verification. Numbers, even when misquoted, give an aura of authenticity to a propaganda poster. But worse, the issue this poster complains about was addressed three years ago!
This post is about the method used: misquoting old, incorrect but “sounds plausible” data to create an argument when simply telling the truth would suffice.
[1] Dividends are taxed twice, which is why the dividend tax rate has been different than ordinary income tax.
Text for Search Indexing
The Top Richest Americans have an incredible amount of Net Wealth, over  $1.5 trillion. Also incredibly, the very rich receive over $800 billion a year from direct or indirect tax benefits and cash subsidies. They get this help not because they need it, but because they think it is a privilege. $800 billion a year can create over 7.2 million good paying jobs. Storm is Coming.

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