May 2009

Vote! It's Election Day

Today is Tuesday May 19th and that means if you're registered to vote in the city of Philadelphia, it's very important that you get out there and vote! Turnout is always lower in primaries, so your vote counts that much more. Early reports are that turnout is very low across the city, and as Dan U-A notes, that only empowers entrenched political machines to decide the election. If you think Philadelphia deserves better, then do something about it.

The only endorsement we made in this election is Seth Williams, the candidate for District Attorney. He's the rare candidate that brings both experience and a fresh perspective to this important job, and Philadelphia desperately needs a smart, competent DA. He has also been endorsed by the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Fraternal Order of Police, Liberty City Democrats, Neighborhood Networks, and many other groups in the city. Check out his website at

There are a number of other positions to vote on, and though we haven't endorsed anyone in those races, our old Obama organizer was working for Leon King, for judge. Young Philly Politics has others they've endorsed here.

You vote at the same place you voted in November, which is at Van R hall if you live in any of the dorms or University crossings.

Don't forget; If you don't vote, you don't get to complain!

When A Party Goes Extinct...

Explaining Effective Tax Rates

At the 100 Days panel discussion last night there were a number of issues raised that deserve further discussion, if only to explain how wrongheaded some of the assertions made were. However, one exchange I thought was interesting enough to return to it here. While responding to a question about the oppressive taxes in this country from a College Republican in the audience, I referred to the fact that we actually have some of the lowest effective tax rates in the developed world. Hardly exciting stuff, but the interesting thing was the response that invoked. A number of students from the College Republicans and the Student Liberty Front (think Ron Paul...) reacted immediately as though I misspoke or made an obvious error. To them it was obvious that we have oppressively high taxes.

They were confused, however, about nominal tax rates and effective tax rates. Behold, the data.

Anyone who has taken any economics understands the difference between nominal and effective rates. It's a distinction that's crucially important when discussing interest rates, for example. Nominal tax rates are the marginal rates levied, the numbers actually specified by statute. Effective tax rates, however, are what companies actually pay. The difference, of course, is that large corporations, as is their prerogative, spend a fair deal of effort lowering their actual tax liabilities through loopholes and tax shelters. While nominal marginal rates can certainly affect business decisions, effective tax rates are more relevant to a discussion of the effect of taxes on the economy, and for anyone claiming oppressive taxation.