By DAVID WARGO

tneditor@tnonline.com

Are you any better off now than you were four years ago? That is what the whole election boils down to in one sentence this fall. Are you better off now than four years ago? It is the critical question that should not only decide this election but any election in which you have an opportunity to vote. Unfortunately the broadcast media no longer does their job which was to keep government honest. Instead they have become infiltrated, compromised and are the propaganda arm of the parties. Some to the left and some to the right. This means like it or not you have to think for yourself.

A week or so ago two individuals posted on Facebook the Congressional Budget Office released graphic showing the tax rates have decreased from 1979 to 2009 most notably in the last year. The graph showed two lines sloping down. One was all Federal taxes and all Income taxes. Naturally supporters of the Obama Administration want you to believe this is to his credit, but they fail to point out two things. The graph ended in 2009 which means he was only in office at most 12 months and in that time he passed the stimulus package that added five trillion dollars to the National Debt and failed to produce the shovel ready jobs he claimed would come from the reckless government spending. In fact, he was quoted last year at a Jobs Council meeting as saying "Maybe the shovel ready jobs weren't so shovel ready." He passed it off as a joke but the sad truth is he was right. It was a misrepresentation by government to the people yet again.

Returning to the graph though there are two things to keep in mind. First as I stated Obama was not in office in 2009 long enough to have any significant change on tax rates and from the best of my memory his mantra has been to tax the rich which now includes any moderately successful mom and pop business which are middle class businesses. Another misrepresentation he throws around to anger people against the investors in our country's commercial success.

Second and as I pointed out to the two who were trumpeting this graph, the data is skewed. If one looks at the data which is broken into 20 percent segments of the population from poorest to richest we find something a bit surprising. In 1979, the lowest 40 percent of the country paid zero percent in individual income taxes. By 2009, the tax rates on the lowest twenty percent was a negative 9.3 percent while the second 20 percent was a negative 2.3 percent which from my math background seems to indicate these people were getting money back from the government that they didn't even pay in to the system. No wonder the statistics are lower.

Finally the analysis of the CBO states exactly why this graph shows declining tax rates. It's not because Obama decreased taxes. As I stated, his views do not fit that position. It is because the average working American lost 30 percent of their wealth in the last 30 years and since income taxes and Federal taxes are levied based on income.

Another thing to remember when you are reading statistics in the press. A statistic can be made to say anything the proponent of it desires. Take the unemployment figures. Supposedly they have decreased as well. The problem with this statistic is the government is not counting today what it was counting three years ago. This is the easiest way to decrease unemployment. Change who you are counting.

My philosophy on voting is simple anymore. Have you damaged this country I love or improved it? Am I better off now than I was the last time you, Mr. or Ms. Politician was up for election? If the answer is No, I don't care if you are a Democrat, a Republican or a free agent, you are fired in my book.

Voters should have a zero-tolerance policy at this point. Anything short of that is betraying yourself. Stop being mindless drones and start using that privilege you have. Do the research. Don't listen to your "buddies".

Think for yourself. It is up to us, not them. It's time to send a message and make Mr. and Ms. Politician afraid of losing their jobs if they don't shape up. Think about that in November.