The second grand idea that I’ve had in the past few days is another database one. I don’t recall what I was reading that made me re-remember this idea. This concept is something that I’ve thought of before, and I’ve seen some people allude to it (Bob Somerby comes to mind). I wish there were some sort of clearinghouse website or organizations that organized media and statistics.
Take, for instance, David Brooks’ piece from a few weeks ago, in which he asserts that rich people:
(In reality, the top 10 percent of earners pay nearly 70 percent of all income taxes, according to the I.R.S. People in the richest 1 percent pay 31 percent of their income to the federal government while the average worker pays less than 14 percent, according to the Congressional Budget Office.)
This one example is not a problem, because I’ve read the rejoinder to Brooks’ misleading statistic enough times to memorize it. Certainly, yes, the rich are paying a higher percentage of federal taxes. The reason for that, though, is because rich people are making more and more money. Additionally, when you look at the historical percentage of income that the rich pay in taxes, that share has decreased significantly. And just like that, Brooks’ “point” is dismissed.
But there are so many poor arguments, misleading statistics and flat-out lies in our political discourse that it’s difficult to remember all of the antidotes to the innumerate fallacies. I’ve bookmarked a few pages that debunk some classic Social Security lies (they never anticipated increased life expectancy! the ratio of workers to retirees is unsustainable!), but outside of that, I don’t have too many easy false-talking-point neutralizers at the ready. And I spend unconscionable amounts of time reading about this crap. So just imagine the degree to which “normal” people, who spend little time reading about this stuff and even less time thinking about it, are underserved by this system.
So, the second database that I’m going to create with the fortune that I’ll totally inherit when I sweep some European princess off her feet, is a comprehensive collection of
filthy liberal talking points information. If I need to cite some stats on inequality, I know I can go to Hacker and Pierson or the article that I saved by Tim Noah. But what if there were one online database that organized these articles and books, which have necessary information, by author, subject, date and relevance? That way, I wouldn’t have to bookmark pages knowing that I’d probably otherwise never be able to find them again. I’m sure there’d be a bunch of issues with copyright and stuff, but I’m not going to let that scuttle my good idea. I’d like to see this happen, too.