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The worst kind of 'victory'

By Tom Toles




If nothing else in this world is improving, the comments section here certainly is. Last week we had a fine series of discussions about airline baggage pricing, soaking the rich and Tea Party ridiculousness. Thoughts were exchanged! A math major put in an appearance! I will definitely stop attending all those fancy Georgetown parties if I can hang with the math majors. We need some in D.C. Might make some budget progress.

I carefully considered the many arguments about how I was wrong about charging for bags on airlines. Several good points were raised. But I have logic on my side, and for once I am arguing the position of letting business freely price its product. So I'm banging the gavel on that discussion. I won.

And here's an argument about taxing that I'm ruling out of order, as long as I'm serving as judge and jury:

However little the rich are taxed, I am sure they pay more than the 47 percent of households in America who paid no federal tax in 2009.

This is misleading, and I think the writer knows it. Social Security taxes are taxes. Sales taxes are taxes. Artfully-worded statements about paying “no federal tax” to imply no taxes at all is disingenuous. No fair.

Lastly, don't bother with these particular insults to me:

1. I can't draw.

2. I am an idiot.

The purposelessness of these charges is that, yes, I have heard them 1,000,000 times, and, no, I can't do anything about either one. Stick to things I can fix, like my opinions or my neckwear selections. --Tom Toles




By Tom Toles  | April 19, 2010; 12:00 AM ET
Categories:  Economy and jobs  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Wall Street's response to regulation
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Ditto to kidsister's response! I've truly loved your cartoons over the years, and it's even better with the new commentary!

Posted by: TerrapinRed | April 19, 2010 6:05 PM | Report abuse

the economy has contracted and left out over 30 million people...
unless the economy expands these people will drain resources until we reach a point of no return and these 30 million begin to hurt the economy...
I say be creative and think of ways to expand the economy and put our people to work...
JOBS will fix everything...
and if we have to replace the politicians to get this done, then do it before it's too late...

Posted by: DwightCollins | April 19, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Hi, Tom...

I like your cartoons... and your commentary is quite interesting, too.

But - assuming we confine the discussion to federal income taxes - the reality is that the 'rich' already pay a HUGE proportion of the total tax receipts. If you add the 'middle class' to the mix, you've covered essentially 100% of the total.

Sorry - but the 'poor' simply do NOT pay any appreciable personal income taxes. They never have...

Posted by: Guy-Hardrock | April 19, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

I think it's much easier to find the energy to negatively comment on something than it is to will up the strength to give positive feedback. Which is probably why it's taken me until now to casually mention that you're the greatest cartoonist in the world.

And ditto on the ascot.

Posted by: kidsister | April 19, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

(Off topic) Finally, a Wall Street prosecution. I'm looking forward to Goldman Sachs meeting Toles' pen.

Posted by: brent6 | April 19, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

If your comments lead to an actual improvement in the discourse in the comments section, you should win another Pulitzer.

Posted by: JohninMpls | April 19, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Tom, I think you're a genius and you can draw a d@mn sight better than your average Tea Party Wahoo - just look at their homemade signs!

Thank you for pointing out that the Tea Party statement of people not paying taxes is an outright lie. What amazes me about the Tea Partiers is given their rhetoric you would think they would be more up in arms about corporate welfare. There's a WaPo banner ad today where the energy companies are asking that the Government, the same people they don't want telling them what to do regrading energy or polution, to give them money to update the power grid. Now Tom if you were a private business could you demand that the government pay for the latest computer program to help in the making of your cartoons? No and like any businessperson you would either take a loan or save back your earnings to buy that program yourself in the realization of future profits down the road. Corporations should be allow to have it both ways. And lets not even talk about government defense contractors who steal more money from tax payers and who usually provide a substandard product/service that endangers lives. Why aren't the Tea Partiers angry about these things?

Posted by: dre7861 | April 19, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Hey I know this is a bit out of thread, but I wanted to get back to the point made about Libertarianism being hypocritical in it's claim of empiricism and yet having dedicated it's self to a preselected solution. (mouthful there)

At any rate, I find that to be a rather astute charge to level at any political party, no? At this point if you are looking for a bastion of rationalism I would say the absurd conflicting point of views of the Tea Party are about as honest as you can get. It's like a DaDa-ist groundswell.

Liberalism is an ideology many define as open minded and progressive, and yet I find that liberal policy makers and apologists can be extremely conservative in their ability to accept other opinions and ideas.

And while the conservatives defend what they perceive as the gains made in society. Those boundaries are often ironically extended to liberal constructs...

I guess what I am saying is that people should believe in ideas, not labels. The validity of an idea should be judged on it's own merits not the political leanings of the people who propose it. If that winds up being Libertarian, Liberal, Conservative or Socialist... so be it.

Posted by: gconrads | April 19, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

How about a cartoon of a person in a house in winter who has just lit the fire place?

They can say "I am still cold."

Just blame the President, of course.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | April 19, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Since Mr. Toles has been told many times tht employment is a "lagging indicator" why does he still seem surprised tht the recession is over and still people do not have work. Is it the concept he can not follow or the fact that he can make lots of hay by not understanding? Or just that he does not believe it? That works, too. But some explanation would help.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | April 19, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

It's also worth pointing out that the top earning households account for an increasingly high percentage of the wealth in the United States. So if the top 10 percent account for 90 percent of the wealth, it seems logical that they pay most of the taxes. They have most of the money.
...though I am not a math major.

Posted by: lca1029 | April 19, 2010 10:49 AM | Report abuse

I love your stuff! (And I was a math major, too!)

Question -- those folks who keep saying: "47 percent of households in America who paid no federal tax in 2009" (and you punctured that argument quite well, thank you) . . . are they arguing that we should be raising taxes?

Posted by: ADCWonk | April 19, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

What kind of cartoonist actually wears a tie? I bet the other cartoonists demand your lunch money when they see that.

Posted by: Gurduloo | April 19, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse


I agree with David Evans' comment. If not for your daily cartoon, I doubt I would spend much time at all on the WP editorial page. Thanks for your humor and, above all, your gentility. The world is a better place for it. You and Ben Sargent are the best ever.

Posted by: michael19 | April 19, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Have you considered an ascot?

Posted by: jhnnywalkr | April 19, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Tom, you draw just right. The message is the art, and its Mona Lisa caliber.

Posted by: sherm1 | April 19, 2010 7:25 AM | Report abuse

I have a WaPo bookmark in my toolbar, and Tom Toles is 90% responsible for that (the other 10% is the off chance that there might be a column worth reading by other columnists like Kathleen Parker. So many of the columns are barely readable). Toles is the only cartoonist I never miss, and I really like the outtakes. I am glad to see the short opinion section that has been added. Keep at it Mr. Toles. Nice tie!

David Evans, Canada

Posted by: hudsonart | April 19, 2010 6:11 AM | Report abuse

Well, then - I don't like that tie you wore last night. Get rid of it!!!

Posted by: charley42 | April 19, 2010 4:29 AM | Report abuse

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