You’ll have to forgive me for touching on topics that have already passed their expiration dates, I haven’t written a single post in over a month. I know the mainstream news and Obama’s political ads have already made everybody well aware of Romney’s interesting comments. Just bear with me, there are some things that you might not have learned about these statistics.
Romney says that 47% of America doesn’t pay an income tax, so let’s start there. If we look at this CNN Article, we can easily see that Romney was fairly accurate with that percentage (the article reported 46.4%, the breakdown is below).
So why were Romney’s comments so bad? Because of how he twists this portion of the population to be government dependent and therefore not worthy of his time. In reality, it isn’t that odd to see only half of the nation paying an income tax. Sure, initially it may surprise you, but when you look at other statistics about America’s labor force, it makes sense. Here’s the most recent statistic about the size of America’s labor force:
For those of you who don’t know, the labor force is the number of employed adults PLUS the number of unemployed adults. So with an 8% unemployment rate, the number of working adults is about 142.6 million. I wonder how closely that resembles 46.4%…
U.S. population in 2012 is a little over 314 million people. 142.6 million (the working adults) divided by 314 million (entire population) is…
That’s pretty damn close. Such a slight difference could easily be accounted for by the margin of error in the studies. The BLS census which determines the labor force and unemployment rate, for instance, only has a sample size of 60,000 yet it represents the entire country.
So now we know where the number comes from and it makes sense. After all, only people with an income can contribute to the income tax! Now the only thing that we have to look at is WHY roughly half of the nation does not fall into the category of “working adults”. There are obviously some people who dodge their taxes (both poor and rich) which drive the percentage down, but those people are few and far between. All of the unemployed, however, are certainly dependent on the government. And the true unemployment of America is much higher than 8%. Discouraged workers (adults who have stopped searching for a job) are not counted in the unemployment rate that we typically hear about. The real unemployment rate includes discouraged workers, so it paints a more accurate picture in terms of unemployment in America.
In addition to the unemployed, there are millions of people who are employed but still unable to live above the poverty line. I believe 40-something million people live with below the poverty line in America. So we can safely say that these 40-something million people are dependent on the government in some way, certainly more than any other Americans. But what about the other dozens of millions of people? 40-something million people doesn’t even account for 20% of the U.S. population. Who else is included in the 47% statistic?
The other people (over half of the people who don’t pay income taxes) fall into these categories:
- Under the age of 16
- In an institution (full time student, military, psych ward, etc…)
- Potentially additional smaller categories I’m unaware of (I’m no wiz at Economics just yet!)
Excluding the unemployed, everybody else is retired, studying in school, too young, and so on. Some people pay the income tax in this group, but most are not eligible for it. So Romney just told all of these perfectly normal citizens of America that they aren’t even worth his time. That annoys me to a great deal.
I don’t want Obama to win this upcoming race… But honestly, Romney, think before you speak. There is no justification for distorting information because you don’t think anyone will hear what you say behind closed doors. Facts are facts. Distortions and misleading information… That’s just trash. And it always will be.