From The Archives: April 2010

Barrel O’ Links: April 2010

Eight April showers-worth of linky goodness:

  • Close encounters of the octopus kind (YouTube)
  • Watermarks beware: Photoshop CS5’s new “content-aware fill” (JNack)
  • Planes or volcano: what’s emitting more carbon dioxide? (IIB)
  • A virus that splits water into hydrogen and oxygen (SciAm)
  • Scanwiches: two slices of bread and everything in between (Scanwiches)
  • A mighty illusion: This is not a spiral (Make)
  • Need more free time?  End your Web 2.0 life! (SuicideMachine)
  • Welfare, early-1900s West Coast style (SFGate)

Net Worth Fighting For

U.S. Income Tax Brackets Over The Past Century

Did the onerous income taxes of the 1950s and ’60s affect the behavior of big-money boxers?  The Atlantic’s Henry Fetter believes so, as he explains in his recent article:

The 1950s was the era of the 90 percent top marginal tax rate, and by the end of that decade live gate receipts for top championship fights were supplemented by the proceeds from closed circuit telecasts to movie theaters. A second fight in one tax year would yield very little additional income, hardly worth the risk of losing the title. And so, the three fights between Floyd Patterson and Ingemar Johansson stretched over three years (1959-1961); the two between Patterson and Sonny Liston over two years (1962-1963), as was also true for the two bouts between Liston and Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) (1964-1965). Then, the Tax Reform Act of 1964 cut the top marginal tax rate to 70 percent effective in 1965. The result: two heavyweight title fights in 1965, and five in 1966. You can look it up.

The theory makes perfect sense, and yes, you read that right: back in the ’50s, the marginal rate of the uppermost individual Federal income tax bracket was indeed an incredible 90%!  In other words, after making a certain amount of money, nine out of ten of your hard-earned dollars went straight to the man.  If I had a demotivational font, I’d use it here to type “Ouch!”

In 1965, the top tax rate fell to 70%, and it stayed there until Reagan swaggered into the joint and knocked everyone on their asses.  By the end of his second term, as he gave a parting high five to Bush, he’d gutted the upper bracket to a millionaire-friendly 28% on all earnings over $160,000 – in today’s dollars!  Trickle down, baby!

Three decades later, the Gipper is long gone, but the tax code legacy of Reaganomics lives on.  To illustrate, Weather Sealed’s infographic team charted the historical U.S. income tax brackets for singles, adjusted for inflation, from 1910 to present:

U.S. Individual Income Tax Brackets, 1910-2010

U.S. Individual Income Tax Brackets, 1910-2010. Click to see it big!

The colors indicate the marginal tax rate: black for low, red in the middle, and yellow for high.  The horizontal axis is the tax year, and the vertical represents taxable income, log-scale, normalized to 2010 dollars with the Bureau Of Labor Statistics’ monthly CPI-U figures.  The bracket data comes from The Tax Foundation and the IRS, and the effects of Social Security, capital gains, AMT, and other tax varieties are not included.

Do you know a wealthy someone who’s afflicted by a habitual carping about their income taxes?  Get him or her near a computer, pull up this graph, point them towards the brilliant yellow-orange brackets that run from the Great Depression ’til the Reagan-Bush tag team, and they shall be healed!

Attention To Detail

An Unexpected Discovery At Legoland

Mickey and Shamu hog most of the attention, but the discerning Bay Area six-year-old has another reason to travel to southern California: the sleeper theme park known as Legoland!  So, to it, my family unit went on a sunny spring morning a few days ago…

The following night, children and grown-ups alike dreamt of Miniland: the exquisite collection of urban mockups, clad in 20-million Lego blocks, that anchors the park at its center.  Within, you’ll find Washington D.C. and its monuments, a kid-friendly Bourbon Street sans the boobies and barfing, New York’s Empire State Building, and the Lilliputian City of San Francisco:

Miniland's San Francisco: Pier 39 in the foreground and the skyline to the upper right.

Part of Miniland's San Francisco: Pier 39 in the foreground, skyline to the upper right, and giants at left.

Click here to read more →

America In Chains

One-Half-Million Corporate Retail Locations

Inspired by Logorama – the incredible Oscar-winning animated short – we decided to go big, plunged into AggData’s geolocated business database, identified 330 retail chain corporations, extracted the latitudes and longitudes of each of their U.S. stores, and mapped them, one per dot:

America In Chains

America In Chains

That’s 500,000 individual retail establishments in all: thirty to each public library, fifteen per post office, and one for every 6.2 square miles and 600 souls in the Lower 48!

Click here to read more →