Monday, February 26, 2007

The Globe: Getting it Right the Second Time Around

Lately, I've scorned the Globe - and for good reason. Stories, left and right, were flawed and missing key facts. Quite frankly, I was sick of it - and even paid them a letter to the editor. Here's one thing I can say about the Globe - even when they don't print letters, they clearly read them. Furthermore, they browse the blogs, including my own - so at the very least, when criticism is laid upon them and that criticism is extremely valid, the Globe often throws us angry readers and bloggers a bone... or belatedly makes up for a lousy story.

Today is an example of that.

One of my recent blogs - and the letter I sent them - was about a horrendous story on how businesses were "blasting" Patrick's plan to close loopholes. The story neglected to mention key information, which was widely available, such as the fact that Massachusetts has one of the lowest corporate tax rates in the country. Furthermore, story never discussed the more than dozen states that have closed the very same loopholes, including states with a lot of corporations like Illinois and California.

Well, here's a snippet of today's lead editorial:

Debate quickly became heated over whether Patrick was proposing a major tax increase on state businesses, or merely "closing loopholes." The question is more than semantic. And the answer, in truth, is that the plan would be both.

When fully implemented, Patrick's tax increases would yield some $500 million, only $75 million of which would go to property tax relief, while the rest would go toward balancing the budget. Since the total take for corporate taxes in fiscal 2006 was only $1.4 billion, $500 million more represents an enormous tax hike, says Michael Widmer of the business-funded Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation.

Sure, it's a big percentage increase, but from a very low base. According to the liberal Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, the state ranks from 43 d to 49th in its level of corporate taxation. Besides, say Patrick's budgeteers, the targeted taxes really are loopholes. The largest change, called combined reporting, would prevent companies from setting up subsidiaries in low-tax states that could suck up revenues that should legitimately be subject to taxation in Massachusetts. Seventeen states use this method, and others are moving in that direction, they say.

Why, the editorial mentions the very same things I criticized the Globe for just the other day. They learned their lesson. Furthermore, they did an important thing: critiqued the governor for not getting going on some of his other campaign promises, such as speeding up the permitting process. It's something that should go along with closing the corporate loopholes. Not only is it the right thing to do, it's the type of compromise that could soften the corporate blow and make them all the less likely to bitterly stave off such basic things as tax fairness.

So, the Globe did a good job today. Let's just hope that next time they can get it right the first time.


high horse said...

Do you care to share your letter to the editor with us? Or do you expect us to take you at your word that you are the sole reason for the Globe's change of heart? Furthermore, is it possible the Globe's position is evolving as more details of Patrick's budget is emerging? I highly doubt the Globe relies on your blog as a reliable source for information on account of your unusual, sheepish bias to all things Deval.

Ryan Adams said...

I would never claim to be "the sole reason" - there were at least three other blogs that basically said the same thing, and I'd guess a dozen other similar letters. Grassroot politics works best in high numbers =)

I don't have a copy of the letter because I wrote it on the Globe's letter tool, otherwise I would have posted it (as I have posted a number of LTTEs I've sent to them before).

Lastly, I would never expect the Globe to rely on me as a "reliable source of information." However, in this case (if you bothered to read it), I said directly where my information came from - a non partisan tax think tank. If you have a problem with their numbers, feel free to complain to them - but be prepared to refute them, because I'd suspect they know what they're talking about.

joe said...

What's "mea culpa"?

Ryan Adams said...


Essentially, it's publically owning up to a mistake. Mia culpa = latin for "my fault." I'm trying to sound pretentious like Arriana Huffington. =p

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