Please understand your income tax before you complain about it

Half dollarI found this on Daring Fireball but it’s worth passing on to my minute (!) but loyal (?) readership:

Does ABC News understand how income tax works?

I knew this (aren’t I so smart?) but I suspect a lot of people don’t, and if you’re ranting and raving about taxes, or especially about the Obama tax plan, it’s probably worth a refresher. The relevant quote:

In reality, a family earning $255,000 will pay the higher tax rate only on its last $5,001 in income; the first $249,999 will continue to be taxed at the old rate. So intentionally lowering your income from $255,000 to $249,999 is counter-productive; it will result in a lower after-tax income.

In other words, yes, there are tax brackets, and incomes within the different brackets are taxed at different rates. But you can think of it this way: your total income is divided up into segments based on these brackets, and each of those segments is taxed at the rate for that bracket. So trying to reduce your income to get under the wire of a particular tax bracket is fundamentally misguided.

The fine line between magnanimous and pusillanimous

George W. BushI’m not sure which side of the line this very generous biography of George W. Bush from President Obama’s version of the official White House site is on, but I do know it’s close to the line.

To be fair, a collection of brief biographical essays on our 44 presidents, published on the official White House website, is not the place for political attacks. But at times this essay goes beyond generous, and in fact beyond belief. Forget the audacity of hope; I want an explanation for the audacity of the claim that Bush worked to “conserve our environment.” And, sorry, but I have to read between the lines of sentences like this one: “Because President Bush believed the strength of America lies in the hearts and souls of our citizens, he supported programs that encourage individuals to help their neighbors in need.” Translation: Bush mercilessly cut funding to government programs that help those who need it most.

But the Bush years are over. It’s time to look forward. I’m willing to keep looking forward, as long as someone else remembers to look backward, specifically into such things as who was responsible for the United States engaging in torture, and whether or not war crimes were committed.

Like I said, I’ll leave that to someone else (say, a special prosecutor appointed by the Obama Administration). Meanwhile, I’ll focus on more important things, like Martin Van Buren’s bitchin’ muttonchops. Why the hell haven’t those made a comeback?

Muttonchops Van Buren

Unless you’re a web geek, you probably don’t know what this means……but it’s a good thing.

From The country’s new robots.txt file.

Well, it’s probably easy to read too much into this. But the short story of it is that President Obama’s new website is blocking a lot less content from search engine “spiders” than that of Ex-President Bush (oh, that has a sweet ring to it).

Now there are plenty of reasons for putting things into your robots.txt file, and most of them have nothing to do with trying to withhold information from the public.

It’s rather odd, though, the set of directories Bush’s site was blocking from the spiders. I find expectmore and help especially amusing. The others aren’t quite so funny. What exactly about omb (Office of Management and Budget) did they need to hide? And… uh… well… 911 kind of goes without saying.

Why block these pages from being indexed by search engines? Good question. And here, I think, is the answer: to make it harder for the average citizen to keep track of changes that have been made to those pages by accessing Google’s cached versions (or, perhaps even more damning, the indefinitely-archived snapshots on the Wayback Machine).

But, it’s a new day. President Obama has promised a much more open and transparent White House, and if the visible underbelly of its website is any indication, he intends to keep his promise.

Also of interest: Here’s a comparison of the old and new sites.