Thursday, May 21, 2009

Karl's Weekend Reading

This week's reading suggestions have to do with California's recent propositions. But first, guns!

A faceless WSJ writer(s), supposedly the editorial board, announces that the end of gun control is here. Well, what a relief! We suppose this will be our last post with the label - Gun Rights. WSJ, May 19, Democrats and Guns:

...the political cause of gun control is as dead as a mounted moose.

We envy the editorial board's new, relaxed attitude toward this issue. We won't, however, take our eye off of this ball.

California, our former home state, asked voters to approve tax increases for the greater good. Those pesky voters, even in Berkeley, couldn't bring themselves to vote YES on any of them. Ever know the answer yet could not articulate it? We felt these propositions were meaningless but couldn't bring ourselves to say why. Rush Limbaugh told us. There won't be any belt-tightening in CA. They'll threaten to cut programs voters like, which will bring the voters to the table for more taxes. Voters revolt? Just threaten to release inmates early, or cut police & fire services. As Rush said, 'But they never offer to cut the bloat that led to this mess.' Yep. That is the California we remember. And fled.

Arthur Laffer and Stephen Moore write in the WSJ, Soak the Rich, Lose the Rich:

We believe there are three unintended consequences from states raising tax rates on the rich. First, some rich residents sell their homes and leave the state; second, those who stay in the state report less taxable income on their tax returns; and third, some rich people choose not to locate in a high-tax state. Since many rich people also tend to be successful business owners, jobs leave with them or they never arrive in the first place. This is why high income-tax states have such a tough time creating net new jobs for low-income residents and college graduates.
They're wrong, and New Hampshire is our favorite illustration. The Live Free or Die State has no income or sales tax, yet it has high-quality schools and excellent public services. Students in New Hampshire public schools achieve the fourth-highest test scores in the nation -- even though the state spends about $1,000 a year less per resident on state and local government than the average state and, incredibly, $5,000 less per person than New York. And on the other side of the ledger, California in 2007 had the highest-paid classroom teachers in the nation, and yet the Golden State had the second-lowest test scores.
Texas created more new jobs in 2008 than all other 49 states combined. And Texas is the only state other than Georgia and North Dakota that is cutting taxes this year.

George Will at Townhall, California's Dependency Culture:

Californians should now pay a real price, in realism about ways and means, for Schwarzenegger's wasted years. His governance-by-attention-deficit-disorder has involved flitting from one trendy irrelevance (e.g., stem cell research) to another (e.g., cooling the planet) while the state has sagged. Fittingly, he was in Washington as his shambolic legacy was being defined by Tuesday's defeat.

He was at the White House, applauding the Obama administration's imposition of severe fuel efficiency standards on a dependent automobile industry that at least has a proven aptitude for its new task of building cars Americans will not like. Standing far from Tuesday's repudiation, in the shadow of the president who may soon effectively be California's governor, Schwarzenegger was the administration's dependency agenda writ small.

Carol Platt Liebau at Townhall, California is Liberalism's "Canary in the Coal Mine":

How times change. Forty years ago, California’s roads and schools were the envy of the country. Now, of course, highways are jammed, and schools languish near the bottom of nationwide rankings. Hospitals are overcrowded, as are prisons. And contrary to the claims of those on the left, the problem isn’t inadequate “investment,” i.e., spending. Forty years ago, the state spent $1240 for every man, woman and child in the state, in today’s inflation-adjusted dollars. Now, it spends more than double that amount – $3200 per person – even as ordinary citizens’ quality of life has plummeted.

Merk Steyn weighs in with a blog post at NRO's The Corner, Over and Out:

Not to be too gloomy, but the country feels like it's seizing up. It's as if California and New York have burst their bodices like two corpulent gin-soaked trollops and rolled over the fruited plain to rub bellies at the Mississippi. If you're underneath, it's not going to be fun.

Victor Davis Hanson also comments in NRO's The Corner, California on the Horizon:

It is generally known that Americans want it both ways — green giddiness and plenty of oil and gas for their cars and homes; lots of government services and low taxes; a big military but spasms of isolationism. But now California is where the rubber meets the road, and we just saw the big government side of the equation dissolve. With the highest income taxes, highest sales taxes, and biggest deficits, Californians finally said "no mas," and let the cutting begin. Of course, we have expanded government to such a degree that "radical" cuts will only get us back to about 2005-sized government, and "tax cutting" in this loopy state will mean holding firm at a 9% sales tax and 10%-plus income tax. But one must begin somewhere.

Today's WSJ Opinion page, Golden (State) Opportunity:

Mr. Schwarzenegger, legislators and public-worker unions are now conspiring to roll out plan B: a federal bailout. The Governor was in Washington on Tuesday and, sounding like a Detroit auto executive, declared: "We need assistance."
But a federal bailout is an injustice to the residents of other states, especially those that run their governments responsibly. Why should taxpayers in Colorado, Virginia or Ohio pay for California's incompetence?


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