Friday, February 05, 2010

Wall Street Journal Prints Lies

The New York Post screams, "Exodu$$$! Wealthy flee NJ". Another headline exclaims, "TAXES DRIVE OUT WEALTH". The reputable Wall Street Journal offers this summary:

As states suffer budget shortfalls and move to increase taxes, a study by Boston College’s Center on Wealth and Philanthropy shows how that can cause wealthy families and businesses to flee elsewhere.

That’s just what happened in New Jersey, the center’s study found. It said the flight of wealthy families deprived the Garden State of $70 billion dollars in wealth and some $1.1 billion in expected charitable giving from 2004 through 2008.

To be quite frank, the WSJ journalist (Shelly Banjo) is lying. The report says nothing of the sort:

As context for this section, we have previously concluded that New Jersey is losing wealth and charitable capacity for giving more because of a decline in wealthy households moving to New Jersey in recent years than from wealthy households leaving New Jersey. We have also seen that New York is a major source of households migrating to New Jersey. In the prior section we found that the wealth of households leaving New York decreased substantially in recent years. In this section we examine how many of these households moved to New Jersey as opposed to Connecticut or someplace else.

This is the problem with net migration data. Net out-migration is shorthand for "exodus". For that matter, so is "population decline". The Boston College study is full of useful information that could help inform better policy. Instead, the Wall Street Journal distorts the facts in order to support its own viewpoint.

For the record, I think tax cuts are usually a good idea. But I can explain my position without resorting to misrepresenting research. Also, good newspapers can and will provide an honest summary of the findings:

While the entire Northeast has seen an outmigration of millionaires, New Jersey has seen a disproportionate amount, with fewer moving in to replace them, the study said. The people arriving are younger and less educated than those moving out.

The number of wealthy households moving to New Jersey from Pennsylvania between 2004 and 2008 dropped 45 percent. From New York, the number dropped by half.

I used to subscribe to the Wall Street Journal and recently received a seductive offer to renew. I'm not interested in paying for yellow journalism. I'll stick with the Financial Times.

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