Thursday, April 28, 2005

Which way is up?

"State burden 44th lowest in nation," reads a headline on Page B1 in the Chattanooga Times Free Press dated Thursday, 28 April 2005.
Not very good news for the overburdened workers and producers of Tennessee.
Or is it?
The story is not from a TFP staff writer, but from one Duncan Mansfield of the Associated Press, datelined Knoxville. (Why is it still called a "dateline" when no date is given?)
In the first paragraph, one can read "... but Tennesseans continue to pay some of the lowest taxes in the country ..."
"Some of the lowest"? But "44th lowest"?
In the second paragraph, Mansfield writes, "On a per-person basis, Tennesseans paid $1,616 in state taxes in 2004. That ranks 44th lowest among the states and $408 less than the national average -- despite a sales tax increase in 2003."
Confused yet? Obviously so are the poor copy editors at the Times Free Press.
A University of Tennessee professor is quoted as saying "... Tennessee has been, is and remains a very low-tax state."
But "very" would certainly rank higher than 44th.
Say, could it be ...? Yes, I think the very poor copy editors meant "44th highest," statistically correct but less enticing.
Perhaps the head -- and story -- should have read "sixth lowest."
Let's see if the paper runs any kind of correction in the Friday edition.


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  2. Thank you, Tim, very much.
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