When society is in the midst of major economic and policy changes, the alligators in the swamp keep us focused on the immediate, so we don’t notice as the water slowly rises or drains away.

But we now have so much evidence showing the trend in tax revenues, and the incomes on which they rely, that the awful facts should be obvious. I sure thought so when I wrote my February 28 column. A letter from Kip Dellinger suggests otherwise (Tax Notes, Mar. 21, 2011, p. 1495).

Dellinger, a reader as thoughtful as any columnist could wish for and a man firm in his convictions, thinks I cherry-picked the numbers. He complains that I compared a “relatively prosperous year (2000) and a year (2010) that reflects the most dramatic economic decline since the Great Depression.”

Of course, I had the data from the years in between (and earlier ones) but thought all that detail was unnecessary. Could I have been more wrong?