Taxes & this WSJ graphic with the made up people

I find this horrible graphic so horrible I’ve decided to list the problems I have with it.

1. All the people are sad. If I was making six figures a year I would not be sad. Technically the clip art people don’t even need to be here. With out the illustrations there could be more data, which leads me to #2 on the list.

2. It’s misleading. Based on the mention of deductions they are actually referring to Adjusted Gross Income but just say Income.

3. Why is there race here? It’s not necessary. The single person appears to be vaguely Asian and the retired couple is Black. Was the Wall Street Journal afraid to make the single parent Black? Is that why she’s blonde?

4. The Wall Street Journal must sit in some kind of interesting niche as far as its readers go. On what did they base these examples? I seriously doubt the average family with two parents is going to have FOUR kids. In 2005, before the economy got even worse, $167,000 and up was the top 5% of household income distribution.

5. How did these pretend people make so much in investment income when the market is still so volatile? I have a very small amount of investments in stock as well as rather small IRA, I’ve seen both lose lots of money in the past 5 years, like a roller coaster.

6. The household median income in the U.S. from 2007 to 2011 was $52,762. This is not even in the same tax bracket as the lowest income pictured here ($180,000). Furthermore, from 2010 to 2011, income inequality increased. (page 10)

7. What percent of retired couples actually have income over $100,000, let alone at $180,000?

8. What about people in poverty? Doesn’t the Wall Street Journal think its readers should be informed? In 2011, that meant, officially, 46.2 million people were living in poverty. (page 13)

9. The Wall Street Journal caters to the top ten percent of our country, obviously a very specific class of people. In 2011, 9.1% of households in the country had income of $150,000 or higher. (page 31)

10. I have no interest in reading the Wall Street Journal even though I’m rather well educated with my bachelor of arts and masters of science. My education makes me one of the 28.2% with a bachelor’s degree or higher in this country – as of 2007-2011. I did graduate with my masters in 2011 and received my bachelors in 2009. Also, I researched these statistics in less than a hour while writing this post so it would definitely not be hard for an employee of the Wall Street Journal to find the same information. This is one of the powers of the Internet. Just one.

11. Finally, this entire graphic looks like it’s relying on scare tactics. “If these people are sad, what is it going to do to me?”

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