Information overload? Reality just too hard to take? Whatever the reasons we seem to be taking leave of our senses. We've become very comfortable with well-packaged fiction passing as fact. Perhaps nowhere is that more obvious than south of the border, in those United States of America.
My favourite magazine is the US monthly, Harper's. A regular feature in this mag is Harper's Index. It's a one-page list of facts that reveal anomolies, quirks and outright failures in conventional wisdom.
Now we all know that the American people and their congressional representatives, indeed the entire right, has an anti-tax fetish. Their dumb as a post logic is that taxation is the problem and cutting taxes is the solution to all that ails their country. It's the supposed raison d'etre of the Tea Party movement. How does their sensed oppression stack up to reality? Consider these snippets from Harper's Index:
- Percentage of their personal income Americans paid in taxes last year: 17
- Last year in which Americans paid so little: 1971
- Percentage of all U.S. personal income last year that came from wages and government programs, respectively: 52, 17
- Number of years since record keeping began in 1929 that these figures have been so low and so high, respectively: 0
In other words Americans haven't paid so little tax since 1971. Even the senior Tea Partiers are paying less tax than they have in their entire working lives. And never, in the past eight decades, have Americans received more of their income from wages and less of it from their government.
In other words, America's tax revolt is just plain dumb. It's the clever harnessing of sheer, boneheaded ignorance.
We can't afford to get too smug. This attitude of not letting reality stand in his way is very popular with Furious Steve Harper. He showed that when he told the Tory caucus to ignore plain, statistical evidence showing a steady decline in crime and, instead, pretend that Canada needed his law'n odor prison fetish.
Oh, by the way, before leaving Harper's Index, here are a couple of other zingers you might find interesting:
- Percentage of all countries that hold "prisoners of conscience," according to Amnesty International: 30
- Percentage of G20 countries that do: 42.
Who says the developed world isn't enlightened?