It’s hard not to think about the jazz pianist’s most famous tune when reading the following lines about tax reform in the latest Money magazine:

What’s at stake: Today’s low tax rates are set to expire in 2013, and the Democrats and Republicans agree on one point. Both sides are promising not to let that happen for most people.

Note the implication: Today’s tax rates are “low,” suggesting a deviation from some “normal” higher level. Those of you who read Thomas Sowell know that this is a good occasion to employ the first of his three questions designed to test “much of the self-righteous nonsense that abounds on so many subjects.” Today’s tax rates are low — compared to what? Historical averages? If so, since when? Low compared to economic competitor nations? If so, which ones?

In the spirit of asking the key question — compared to what? — please enjoy the following interlude from Les McCann: