Ignorance

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I want to draw everyone’s attention to two particularly depressing news items. The first is from the New York Times, which wants us to feel sorry for rich people whose taxes will go up under President Barack Obama’s tax plan:

As the political battle drags on… it has also veered into a more basic matter of fairness, whether a person who earns more than $200,000 a year should be taxed at rates similar to those who make $5 million.

As Jon Chait points out, this is just wrong. In America, we have something called marginal tax rates. If you move into a higher tax bracket, you’re not taxed at a higher rate on all your income—just the income above the minimum for that bracket. The poor, benighted individuals who make $200,001 will only pay a higher taxes on the $1 they make that’s over $200,000. Because of this, people who make $5 million pay (and, under the Obama plan, will continue to pay) taxes at a significantly higher effective rate than people who make, say, $270,000. Socialism!

The second item comes via the New York city tabloids (the Post and the Daily News), which both have stories on how annoyed New Yorkers are that the government is mandating a font change on street signs. Dan Amira of the New York magazine’s wonderful Daily Intel blog does the honors on this silliness. As Amira points out, the change was mandated in 2003 in order to improve safety (the new font has been proven to reduce accidents), cities and states have 15 years to switch out the old signs, and the change isn’t likely to cost the city much of anything in terms of extra money or work since 8,000 signs are replaced each year due to wear and tear anyway. But, you know, big government is evil!

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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