How To Reduce The U.S. Deficit

It’s a shame that my background couldn’t pass the media scrutiny I’d get if I ran for president (I got disciplinary probation in college for not leaving the dorm on a timely enough basis during a fire alarm). A shame, because I have an idea that could help reduce the U.S. deficit by billions, if not trillions, of dollars.

How? Through something I call the Decimal Tax.

It’s come to my attention that some of you are quite profligate in your use of decimal places in graphs and charts.

Take, for example, this chart from eMarketer:

Really, now. Is it important to know that fifty-eight POINT SEVEN percent of marketers measure clickthrough rates? If they had rounded it off to 59% would we have lost any critical information? I think not.

Then there’s this chart I pulled off the Internet:

Forget for a second that two slices of the pie appear to have the same color. Is it really important to know that James or Perez accounted for thirty POINT OH ONE percent of sales? No.

One more example: reports that “IT professionals consumed social media at a rate of 6.77 hours per week, versus 4.29 for editorial content, and 4.16 for vendor content.” In case you’re not too good at math, IT pros spend 8 minutes more per week on editorial content than they do vendor content. If the Tools at Toolbox had rounded to one decimal place we might have underestimated this difference by 2 minutes.


We have a problem in this country, my fellow citizens. We’re experiencing decimal inflation. And the only way to control this runaway inflation is by taxing the people responsible for this wasteful use of our precious decimal resources.

So I’m proposing the Decimal Tax. Every time you make inappropriate use of a decimal place in a graph or chart, you will have to pay a tax on that decimal place.

eMarketer, for example, would be charged $52 for the chart above. The guy who did the sales chart would need to pony up $100.

My inability to withstand the rigors of running for president preclude me from being able to implement this tax, however. Please help me make this a reality by electing a candidate who supports this tax.

One thought on “How To Reduce The U.S. Deficit

  1. Gregg Easterbrook rants about this all the time as well. It’s an obsession that compels us to measure things that are outside of the scope of a human being’s ability to notice.

    Unfortunately, 28.5714% of those seeing statistics are more inclined to believe them when they’re reported at ridiculous levels of precision. (And the above number merely masks the fact that I asked seven people, and got two responses.)

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