Letters to the Editor

May 14, 2014

Steve Claypool: Don’t believe what you read on Wallethub

Wallethub.com. Never heard of them till a few months ago.

Wallethub.com. Never heard of them till a few months ago.

They created a “list” that made every major website in the country. They claimed the “average” Californian paid over $9,000 a year in state and local taxes. And that Nebraska had the nation’s third-highest tax burden.

According to every established tax study, the tax burden in California is about $5,000, and Nebraska is about 25th – not third – in average tax burden.

And yet, not one major media outlet questioned the data. Common sense, or simple logic would show that if the average Californian paid $9,000 in state and local taxes, there would be no budget deficit in the Golden State.

Why? You don’t need to be a financial expert or math whiz to look at Wallethub’s methodology and see that what they call “ average” is, by definition, not an average at all.

Forbes.com reported on March 27: “I am not sure how Nebraska ended up as the third-worst – behind New Jersey and Vermont!”

Come on, Forbes. If that sentence is worth an exclamation point, it’s worth at least a little journalistic curiosity.

Forbes is not sure, but I am. I don’t know whether I’m more disappointed by Wallethub’s misleading data or by the incompetence of American journalism.



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