The Forbes list of states that tax their citizens the most is out! And California ranks … well, California isn’t even on the list.
Forbes: Where Americans Are Taxed Most:
10. Pennsylvania (not California)
9. Wyoming (not California)
8. Washington (not California)
7. Massachusetts (not California)
6. New York (not California)
5. New Jersey (not California)
4. Minnesota (not California)
3. Connecticut (not California)
2. Hawaii (not California)
Drum roll ….
… keep scrolling …
— And the winner is …
1. Vermont (NOT CALIFORNIA!)
So yesterday I’m driving and KGO radio has a show about the “tax revolt” that is “taking place all over California,” with people rising up and having “tea parties” to protest the “incredibly high taxes” in California. Here is KGO’s program listing:
2 PM – Growing Anti-Tax Revolt in California? And What About Prop
Taking inspiration from a landmark 1970s tax revolt, a determined group of
activists say the moment is right for another voter uprising in California,
where recession-battered residents have been hit with the highest income and
sales tax rates in the nation. And like Proposition 13, the 1978 ballot measure
that transformed the state’s political landscape and ignited tax-reform
movements nationwide, they see the next backlash coming not from either major
political party, but from the people. How real is the latest anti-tax sentiment
and has Prop 13 run it’s course?
Guest: John Coupal, president Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association
Mr. Coupal was on the show to say that California is the highest-taxing state,
and state taxes should be lower, and the government wastes all the
money it takes in, and can’t be trusted, and is too big. He talked about how other states get by with lower taxes while providing better services than California. He said, for example, that there is no income tax at all in Texas — without mentioning that Texas taxes oil taken out of the ground while California doesn’t. He said that California spends more on schools than any other state, and called for “school choice” — which is getting rid of public schools and
education for those who can afford it.
He said a lot of things that turn out not to be factual if you look into them. But you can’t bother be factual and argue for lower taxes and spending. As Dave Dayen points out at Calitics,
“Right now we’re at the bottom of per capita spending in almost every major
category – 44th
in health care, 47th
in per-pupil education spending, dead last in
highway spending and 46th in capital investment among all states.”
But here’s the thing. HE was on the radio, telling Californians that we are the highest-taxing and spending more on schools, etc. than any other state. And the other side was not on the radio telling Californians the truth. So he wins.
Californians don’t really have much choice except to believe the anti-tax, anti-government, pro-corporate arguments because they are not hearing anything else.
This was just one radio show of the hundreds of radio shows every month that repeat this message. And the newspapers repeat it. And the TV shows repeat it. And there are even public speakers, funded to go from civic group to civic group around the state to repeat this message!
Why is it that he was on the radio and the other side was not? Because there are so few “other side” organizations for radio stations to call on, funded, with people trained and ready to talk on the radio and TV, write columns, speak to public groups, and generally make the case that government serves a purpose, roads and schools and public safety and are beneficial and that democracy is better than rule by corporations. Corporations are enabled by our laws to amass incredible sums of money with little oversight, and are using some of that money to influence the state’s policies, always to further reduce oversight and amass ever greater power. That money leaks out of the corporations and into the political system, while pro-democracy organizations have few sources of funding.
The result is that the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association is very well funded and is widely quoted in the media. Organization that makes the case for government and democracy are not. And democracy in California is the loser. So if we think we’re going to be able to persuade Californians to overturn the 2/3 vote requirement for a budget or to increase taxes, we’re going to have to come out swinging… At the moment, we don’t even have a batter at the plate.