PT72.S1.Q22 (P4) - first country to introduce a "flat tax" on income

manuayarramanuayarra Alum Member
edited December 2015 in Reading Comprehension 42 karma
http://7sage.com/lsat_explanations/lsat-72-section-1-passage-4-questions/

Anyone can tell me why option D is wrong? Passage A mentions an objection to progressive taxes when it highlights the incentives for avoiding it and the opportunities to do so and passage B mentions the objection of unfairness in the first paragraph. Just how can D be wrong? Anyone is with me in sending a complaint to LSAC?

Comments

  • CFC152436CFC152436 Alum Member
    edited July 2014 284 karma
    You're misreading the question stem. We are not being asked to identify something that both passages "mentioned," but rather to identify something that both passages are "concerned with." The differene is subtle, but, as you can imagine, incredibly important.

    Jeffort gives a really nice explanation (and it will certainly be better than any I can give) on TLS, so I'll defer to him to explain the rest. Link: http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=232719 His explanation is in the second post of the thread.

    You may want to try and figure out why C is correct (and why D is incorrect) before reading his explanation. There is a good chance the LSAC uses that subtlety again, and you'll have a leg-up on a lot of test takers if you really understand the distinction.
  • manuayarramanuayarra Alum Member
    42 karma
    I most certainly did not misread any question. Question says "concerned with answering" it doesnt say "mainly concerned with answering" nor " mostly concerned with answering" nor "what is the main question the authors are concerned with answering". If you answer a question then you are most certainly concerned with answering it. Period.
    I also gave a complete explanation in that forum but if Jeffort's explanation convinced you then I don't see a lot of hope for you. No offense, no hope for me either, i don't see how can I improve in such an embarassingly illogical test.
  • CFC152436CFC152436 Alum Member
    edited July 2014 284 karma
    1. No need for ad hominem's - you asked a question, I gave an answer. I get it - you're angry at the LSAC - no need to direct that anger at anyone else.

    2. "If you answer a question then you are most certainly concerned with answering it. Period." This seems like a non-sequitur. What part of answering a question necessarily entails that the individual who answered the question must be concerned with answering it? When making an argument, I am concerned with proving my thesis. Although I may certainly answer / mention / refer to other questions, I am only "concerned with" one particular question (i.e. my thesis).

    3. On TLS you mentioned you have issues with 2 other questions as well. By all means send in a complaint and let everyone know what the LSAC says. They've redacted some questions before, maybe they'll do so again.

    4. JY just released his own explanations for PT 72 - maybe you'll find his reasoning more suitable than Jeffort's (I haven't watched the video myself, just figured it might be helpful).
  • manuayarramanuayarra Alum Member
    42 karma
    1. Alright I'm sorry for the emotion. I'll take that out.

    2. When you make an argument you are not only concerned with answering the question to the issue (i.e. your thesis) you are also concerned with stating whatever is useful to prove or to even explain your argument. If you are concerned with the first one, you are concerned with the second one, otherwise, why not make a circular argument and be done with it? Given that, both authors in both passages certainly use describing objections to progressive taxes to make their point. In passage A, the objections of incentives and opportunities for avoiding taxes in progressive systems is used to show an advantage of flat taxes over progressive ones. In passage B, the objection of unfairness is mentioned so as to later discuss it and refute it. At the very least, it serves to introduce the argument and the main issue.

    3. I have already done that but it's taking time. Im actually sharing my concerns just to channel my anxiety. The other questions are 23 and 25 from section 2 LR.

    4. As much as I respect JY, I wasn't convinced by his answer either. In his video, he concedes that you can get an objection out of the last paragraph of passage A but then just simplifies it as if it's just not the same as in C because C is clearly an important question to answer. With this respect, as I've already said, I don't think that being concerned with answering a question necessarily means that it has to be an important question. But also, why isn't D an important question? And referring to passage B, it merely states that it's a misunderstanding of most people. But you don't have to agree with the objection to be concerned with describing it.
  • J.Y. PingJ.Y. Ping Administrator Instructor
    13406 karma

    Hey there, I said it too quickly in the video the distinction b/t "misunderstanding" and "objection".
    http://7sage.com/lsat_explanations/lsat-72-section-1-passage-4-questions/

    But that's the best I've got so far.

    For (D), Passage B is saying "Look, you're misunderstanding progressive taxes. By that I mean you have a factually inaccurate conception of what progressive taxes are. Let me use the remaining paragraphs to give you an accurate understanding of what progressive taxes while additionally showing you why as a tax regime it's superior to flat taxes."

    I think there's got to be a distinction b/t "you've stated or characterized progressive taxes inaccurately" v. "you've raised an objection to the progressive tax regime".
  • manuayarramanuayarra Alum Member
    edited July 2014 42 karma
    Hi JY! Thanks for the help!
    I think yours is a conceivable way of making option D incorrect. To put it in other words, it would go like this:
    Does passage B refer to a criticism directed to progressive taxes?
    Yes it does. It states that to some, it may seem unfair.
    Does this count as an objection of progressive taxes?
    In your view, it doesn't because it is based on a misconception or inaccuracy regarding the nature of progressive taxes. However, this only means that the objection does not stand, or is unreasonable, or misdirected, but who are we to deny it the character of an objection? The ordinary use of the word suggests an advance against a certain position, that is to say, an attempt to weaken a certain position, regardless of its eventual relevance or strength. Whether in court rooms or in academic essays, when we answer an objection we don't replace it with another word once we come to the conclusion that it does not meet our standards. We just say it's a weak objection, or unreasonable, or flawed, or irrelevant, just as with an argument.
    Now, one might still say: OK, it's an objection but it's not technically an objection to progressive taxes themselves because progressive taxes don't tax a rate for an entire income.
    Ultimately, my issue is that an objection against something is such a broad expression, as it is usually used, that it really allows for statements that are off their mark. We are just not very strict in determining what makes an objection and what doesn't. In other words: an argument made in an attempt to weaken a certain position can be understood as an objection against that position, regardless of whether, after due analysis, it does not accurately address the nature of the position.
    Now, but what happens if you also use a high level of literal scrutiny to option C. Where, for example, does passage A express that a flat tax can or cannot be fair to all tax payers? Sure, it says that it can be made progressive, but the question of whether this can make it fair is left lingering. And whether being progressive makes it fair to all tax payers is an even bigger enigma. And what does fair or fair to all tax payers even mean, in the first place. If the author of passage A would have been concerned with answering this question, then he would have surely explained what it means to him. And what about passage B, it certainly states that it imposes a bigger burden on middle classes but does that give an answer as to whether flat taxes can be fair? Once again, how am I supposed to know if I don't know what fair to all taxpayers even means to the author? Just looking at all these gaps in option C also makes me feel a lot better about D.
    In conclusion, my feeling is that the LSAC just went too far with this trap. Can the question be saved? I don't know, it just depends on too many implicit and vague issues that are not explicitly addressed by the passages.
  • manuayarramanuayarra Alum Member
    42 karma
    Btw, another way of saving my argument would be saying: Passage B states that progressive taxes seem unfair to a lot of people. Can the apparent unfairness be defined as an objection. Why not? Giving the appearance of unfairness is not a good thing for an idea.
    This might feel like I'm cheating but this is just the result of the imprecision of the expression "objecting to something".
  • manuayarramanuayarra Alum Member
    42 karma
    Also, the first paragraph of passage B is ambiguous in the way it is written. It says: "They think that if you make more money you pay a higher rate on your entire earnings". This is can mean two things: a) they pay the higher rate on the entire income or b) they pay a higher rate than other people on the entire income. Then the passage denies a) explicitly but b) seems to be left unanswered. Interpretation b) is a reasonable literal interpretation of that statement and is definitely true about progressive taxes: someone in the higher portion of the society pays a higher rate on its entire income (a higher average rate) than someone below the poverty line (who would pay nothing). In fact, we know this is true because it is implied in the definition of progressive taxes we get from passage A: "requiring high income earners to forfeit a bigger share of their incomes in tax than low-income earners have to pay". This interpretation of the statement is clearly an objection to progressive taxes and therefore, clearly serves to answer the question of option D.
    If the author of passage B would have been content in merely denying the interpretation A, then its defense of progressive taxes would have been rather empty. Reader could have asked, ok, but doesn't interpretation B mean that progressive taxes treat payers unequally, and thus, unfairly? But the author knew this was a possible variation of the same objection which is why paragraph 2 is designed to explain why equality does not merely mean treating everybody equally but treating everyone in the same conditions equally. Thus, the second paragraph serves to prove that the idea that some pay a higher overall portion of their income is valuable, morally correct and in conformity with the idea of treating everyone equally.
    All this is just to say the following:
    The criticism of a lot of people towards progressive taxes is literally ambiguous.
    Interpretation by context would initially seem to favor the interpretation A): people would pay THE higher rate on their entire income, because this is the one that the author explicitly denies .
    But this is not a complete picture of the context because paragraph 2 is designed to tackle the other interpretation of the objection. Is this mere chance? I don't think so, it seems that the author understood what some of the critics were trying to say.
    With that in mind, what misunderstanding did the author mean to target when he said: "a lot of people don't understand graduated taxes". I think he meant to target both misunderstandings: a) the factual one about how higher earners pay the higher rate on the entire income and b) the conceptual one about what it means to treat taxpayers equally in the relevant sense.
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