Paul Tullis's Grim Tidings

Bitter musings on politics and policy

Does George Will have amnesia? Or is he merely dishonest?

with one comment

Because there’s no other possible explanation for today’s column.

Will makes the preposterous claim that liberalism is the cause of the state’s fiscal woes.

What liberalism is he talking about? The liberalism that locks up nonviolent drug offenders at a cost of $40,000 per prisoner per year? The state spends at least $7 billion on prison health care alone, to a large degree because of asinine conservative ideas like “3 strikes you’re out,” which has jailed people for life for stealing a slice of pizza.

The kind of liberalism that quadruples the cost of a college education at public universities over 20 years? (Under $2600 a year [inflation-adjusted] when I started at Berkeley, in 1989; more than $10,000 next year. When Jerry Brown went there it was $0.) Will compares UC tuition to Stanford tuition, as if to say what a bargain it is. Stanford is not a public university. Apples to apples, please, Mr. Will.

The liberalism that imposed term limits on legislators, causing them to rely more on corporate and other lobbyists to draft legislation because they lack experience–the opposite of its intended effect (though entirely predictable)?
The liberalism that rejects challenges to state gerrymandering, which entrenches extremists on either side of the aisle, making fiscal compromise more difficult?
The cause of California’s fiscal woes can be traced to Prop 13, which in 1978 capped property taxes and required a two-thirds majority in the legislature to raise income tax. As a result, the state and its cities must rely more on regressive sales tax. Regressive taxation is policy favored by conservatives, not liberals (see: Steve Forbes and the “flat tax”) and Prop 13 was backed largely by conservatives.
Will decries the state’s liberal income tax code as a cause of people leaving the state. These two events have never been correlated, for one thing, and for another if property taxes weren’t so insanely low–I paid less than half in property taxes in CA what I did in NY, for a home that was double the valued of the NY property’s–the state wouldn’t need to tax the rich so much.

He also implies that taxation is somehow the cause of manufacturing jobs leaving the state, even though manufacturing jobs have been leaving every state for some time now. (Once people find another one, this is generally considered a good thing, because manufacturing jobs suck.)

Once again, we see conservative columnists needing to be dishonest to make their point. Which ought to be evidence enough of the paucity of their ideas, the vacuity of their ideals.

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Written by ptullis

January 10, 2010 at 8:07 pm

One Response

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  1. I wonder if sales tax could be a progressive cause – arguably they deter consumption, after all. Must say I’m enjoying living in a state with no income tax. Now that the real estate boom is over I’m sure that won’t be sustainable…

    christophermims

    January 13, 2010 at 10:30 am


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