Friday, April 9, 2010

Show Me Institute Op-Ed Completely Misrepresents Argument

R.W. Hafer, Research Scholar for the Show-Me Institute, wrote an absolutely embarrassingly bad op-ed that completely misrepresented the people he was arguing against earlier today. Hafer framed his argument as examining, "extreme claims on both sides of tax issues." His example of the Tea Party rhetoric around Proposition A was amazingly devoid of content. Despite numerous examples of blatant falsehoods used by the Tea Party in the debate, the only thing Hafer had to say was, "I seriously doubt that there is evidence to support such hyperbole." Um, actually, there's quite a bit of evidence that showed the hyperbole was completely false, but that's not really the point of this particular post.

Hafer's truly shameful argument is when he is trying to compare the false rhetoric of the tea party with what he calls the "extreme" arguments of Saint Louis University economists Lisa Gladsen ad Jack Strauss. Hafer writes the following:
Writing in The Kansas City Star, Strauss and his co-author argue that earnings taxes have no negative affect on economic growth. Does this mean that cities like St. Louis could increase the tax without limit and not face negative repercussions? That is absurd, but it is consistent with Strauss' finding.

So Hafer's argument is that Gladsen and Strauss's argument is "extreme" because it is consistent with the absurd statement that we can increase taxes indefinitely without any effect. But all anyone has to do is look at the original article to see just how ridiculous Hafer's claim is. The article doesn't say taxes have no effect; it says that we can rank what issues are important and the cost of doing business is relatively low on these rankings. Strauss and Gladsen specifically discuss the 1 percent earnings tax, not a hypothetical "without limit" tax increase. Here is the exact text:
There is abundant evidence that shows a business location is determined by the following, in order of importance: (1) skilled workforce, (2) limited bureaucracy, (3) infrastructure, (4) quality of life factors (crime and climate) and (5) cost of doing business (housing, utilities and taxes). It is unlikely that a 1 percent earnings tax would encourage a local firm to move, just as it is unlikely that a current resident would move to another city for a 1 percent pay raise. There are just too many other costs and intangible factors involved in the decision to relocate.

Hafer's misrepresentation is not acceptable from an academic. The Beacon really needs to do more to make sure that their Op-Ed writers are at least accurately characterizing the positions they are arguing against.

No comments:

Post a Comment