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View Diary: Taxes: What you need to know about the coming fight and why (8 comments)

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  •  This would be more helpful (0+ / 0-)

    if it were written in something a little closer to verbal English as opposed to Economic Mathematics.

    For instance, your graph is labeled only in a few mysterious formulaic abbreviations.  It took me five minutes of comparing the graph to the "explanation" and back again to deduce what the axis labels should have been because they aren't there.  Ordinary people don't know what you as a professional I guess ASSUME those variables are.  You see, we look at a wide range of graphs dealing with all sorts of information on a daily basis.  People have to tell us what they are graphing.

    Likewise you use a number of jargon terms with no explanation or definition.  "Dead weight loss"?  I can garner a sense of this from your context, but specific description would be nice.  You refer offhandedly to "externalities".  In normal-human speak, those are "costs offloaded onto third parties and removed from accounting".  "Externalities" is such a great euphemism, entirely ignoring the reality of what's being done with a fancy word that has a proprietary meaning in economics jargon sufficiently removed from its meaning in everyday English that the listener is tricked into believing that he can figure it out if he thinks about it and will look incredibly stupid if he mentions that it doesn't seem quite the right term.  Really a brilliant way to avoid confrontation.

    Finally, sprinklings of grammatical error.  Grammatical errors are common when native speakers of Mathematics attempt to write in English.  However, they make it difficult for English-speakers to understand what is being said, as grammar contains significant information.  For instance, "societies" (nominative plural) has an entirely different meaning from "society's" (genitive singular), which implies possession or ownership on the part of a specific collective social group.

    If you wish to make a technical field transparent to non-experts, you need to use their language, and do so fluently.  Even the simplest concepts can be made opaque by the untranslated use of jargon and terms of art.

    •  Woah...let's tone down the anger a bit... (0+ / 0-)

      Your tone, whether intentional or not, comes off as very aggressive. I don't know what I did to you to offend you so deeply that you have to lash out at me, but I assure you that none of the issues you had with my diary were intentional.

      Please understand the context:

      1. I wrote this diary over the course of a thirty minute lunch break.

      2. On a related note, I did not have the time to create the prettiest of graphs, so I went with the minimum necessary for my purposes. I probably should have fully labeled the graph and made a second graph for my discussion of tax deductions, but...thirty minutes.

      First, you are absolutely right about the grammatical errors, and I apologize for them. Unfortunately, I tend to diary on free time, usually in between various responsibilities. Consequently, I do not make use of multiple drafts or extensive review and editing the way I would a professional report or academic paper. I am not being paid for writing this. There's no real excuse for the typos beyond that, so I apologize.

      Second, you are also absolutely right about the use of jargon, and I apologize. I've had a few technical discussions with fellow Kossacks, and I think it made me forget the rules for writing to a general audience. It wasn't really my intent to teach a course on my 30 minute lunch break, and I figured anything that wasn't clear could be asked about in the comments and I would get to them this evening (as I am now, though I admittedly thought the questions/discussion would be more polite) A few definitions:

      Externalities: In economics, an externality refers to a situation in which the actions of one economic agent affect at least one other economic agent through some mechanism other than prices. In effect, an externality is something associated with an economic transaction that has an affect beyond the transaction itself (and so is not captured by a conventional, simple economic model of that particular market). Does that make sense? So for instance, a company manufactures a good through a process that emits mercury into the water nearby. The price of that manufactured good only reflects the costs of producing the good and the demand for the good. The pollution (and the negative health affects from it) is a cost incurred as a direct result of the market, but is not included in the market transaction. I did not misuse the economic term in my description above, and I certainly didn't (and wouldn't) use jargon to intentionally cloak a controversial argument to avoid confrontation.

      Deadweight loss (my separation of "dead" and "weight" was yet another typo...) is a bit more complicated. Essentially, it is the loss in market activity for which there is not an offsetting gain elsewhere. I kind of glossed over it because, despite its importance for understanding the basis for anti-tax arguments from the political Right, it's a concept that is derived from the concepts used in building supply and demand curves. Essentially, deadweight loss holds that without the presence of a tax, more consumer demand would be met, making consumers happier, and suppliers could sell more of the taxed good, increasing revenue. The tax takes away from both groups, but it does not result in a dollar-for-dollar transfer to the government. The dollar value of the difference between government revenues raised and the market value of the goods not sold due to the higher price caused by the tax. For instance, in the real world, these deadweight losses manifest themselves as the administrative needs to fund and enforce the tax. The funds used for the administration of the tax offset part of the revenue from the tax.

      Any other questions or comments? Again, I apologize for both the typos and the jargon. It had briefly occurred to me while writing it that I still might have been too technical, but I was having a hard time balancing time constraints and providing an unnecessary amount of detail with clarity. I mean, it's a pretty long diary as it is, and I appreciate you seeing it through and giving me some great (though unduly harsh) feedback on it.

      •  Thank-you. (0+ / 0-)

        I think the anger was a combination of frustration at an explanation that was so hasty that it managed to make concepts that I was quite familiar with actually more difficult to access, and projection . . . you pushed some buttons normally reserved for my so-superior Republican Little Brother, who prides  himself on his masters in economics and his license as an engineer while denying Global Warming.

        "Externalities" are his favorite way of dismissing the most important facts of any argument on social justice as irrelevant.

        Seriously, please do label your graphs when dealing with laymen.  Not doing so implies that if the reader actually KNEW ANYTHING, they wouldn't require them.  Which is counterproductive when the specified purpose of an article is to make specialized information accessible to laymen.

        •  Ugh... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I completely sympathize. I know the type.

          Yeah, "externalities" is a popular dodge in economics. Externalities and assumptions. I will say this though: post-2008, the field of economics is undergoing a lot of soul searching. The crash called into question many of their fundamental theoretical assumptions, and as a result, many of them are beginning to take variables they had previously written off as "externalities" more seriously.

          And yeah, point well taken about fully labeled graphs. It was a silly oversight on my part.

    •  There... (0+ / 0-)

      I edited most of the grammatical errors out and added some details to the graph. If I have time over the holiday, I will add a second graph for deductions, a glossary of terms and a few additional thoughts that I forgot to include and republish the diary. Let me know if you have any other thoughts that would make this more accessible.

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