No New Taxes, Again

|

New York and California haven't stopped voting for liberals, but they have, once again, gotten fed up with taxes. In a bit of a triumph for the Reason Foundation and for this magazine, California voters defeated Rob Reiner's universal preschool initiative and several other tax-hiking ballot measures. At the Washington Post, E.J. Dionne urges liberals to crawl back up off the mat but don't ever, ever try this crap again.

Universal programs carry large price tags. In retrospect, Reiner might have gotten closer to his honorable goal with a smaller program directed at the poorest kids and requiring a smaller tax increase. Is there a lesson here on how to expand health insurance coverage?

It gives me no joy to say these things, since I wish both California propositions had passed. But realism is not the enemy of idealism, and taxpayers aren't being selfish when they place a heavy burden on those who would ask them to part with some of their money. Advocates of public action need to meet that test.

Meanwhile, in New York—set to elect the nanny-tastic trio of Spitzer, Clinton and Cuomo in five months—might be primed for a property tax revolt.

As frustration with high property taxes mounts on Long Island, more residents than not would prefer funding schools with a local income tax instead, a Newsday/NY1 poll has found.

Long Islanders favored the idea 41 percent to 33 percent—making the region the most supportive in the state.

Upstate suburban and rural voters favored a local income tax, 40 percent to 36 percent, while upstate urban voters opposed it, 50 percent to 32 percent. Political party was not a factor, and men were more supportive of the change than women.

Advertisement

NEXT: Two Cheers for Tom DeLay

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I have come on here a couple of times and proposed a wealth based, rather than income based, tax to support the military and other US security apparatus. Because it is mostly the wealth that the military protects (and because the wealth can’t be conscripted as an infantryman).

    By the same token, I suppose the schools should be paid by a regressive tax like income or sales tax. It ain’t the rich people who want / need public schools.

  2. Isn’t the usual rationale given for making a program universal is economy of scale? In the case of the California public education system, huge scale hasn’t led to economy. Perhaps, to have economy of scale you have to have scale and competition.

  3. And what makes the idiots of Long Island think they won’t go from “property tax today” to “income yax tomorrow” to “both next week”?

    Stupid, stupid, stupid.

  4. And what makes the idiots of Long Island think they won’t go from “property tax today” to “income tax tomorrow” to “both next week”?

    Stupid, stupid, stupid.

    (P.S. This is why people who advocate moving from an income tax to a consumption tax are also misguided. We’ll simply end up with both in the end.)

  5. With the exception of the teachers, I have yet to come across anyone on LI who isn’t in favor of razing the public schools to the ground. In fact, we just might do it!

    Then again, I’m particular about the company I keep.

  6. Meanwhile, in New York – … – might be primed for a property tax revolt.

    Not in a million-billion years will NYers ever move en masse to lower their tax burden.

    But we can count on them to whine about it en masse.

  7. .

    … the most practical voting solution for New York & California citizens — is to ‘Vote with Your Feet’.

    Many have seen the light.

  8. I have come on here a couple of times and proposed a wealth based, rather than income based, tax to support the military and other US security apparatus. Because it is mostly the wealth that the military protects (and because the wealth can’t be conscripted as an infantryman).

    The side effect of taxing wealth (wealth being the means of production)… is that it creates a disincentive to producing wealth. Less means of production means less goods and services for everyone.

    Now, perhaps people are comfortable with the newspeak concept that you have to lower peoples standard of living to raise it (because sometimes we need to destroy the village to save it!).

    But really, economics is a little more complicated than “PUNISH THOSE EVIL RICH FOLKS!”.

  9. “Give me things! Schools! Pensions! Health care!”
    “You have to pay for it.”
    “WWWWWWWWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH”

    – Josh

  10. Reiner’s initiative failed for reasons other than the tax hike. Nobody cared about the tax hike. It’s defeat was decidedly NOT a referendum against more taxes.

    nmg

  11. And what makes the idiots of Long Island think they won’t go from “property tax today” to “income tax tomorrow” to “both next week”?

    Exactly why voters in Washington State have repeatedly rejected calls from politicians for a state income tax (for example, former governor Booth Gardiner).

    Under state law any new tax would have to go to the voters for approval. However, raising an existing tax only requires the legislature. Oddly enough (!) whenever the pitch is made for a ‘more progressive’ income tax it’s always in return for LOWERING the ‘regressive’ state sales tax. You will never hear the advocates offer to ELIMINATE the sales tax. Most people here realize in their gut that if they approve an income tax very soon they’ll have both that AND a sales tax that quickly gets jacked back up as high as before.

  12. The side effect of taxing wealth (wealth being the means of production)… is that it creates a disincentive to producing wealth. Less means of production means less goods and services for everyone.

    When the rich people fully fund the military then the military is likely to shrink to the size it needs to be to effectively protect the wealth, but no bigger. As a libertarian, I see this potential shrinkage in the government as a great thing. So should you, Rex Rhino.

    Since the second half of my post suggested that school-funding taxes be made more regressive, it is bizarre that you would say that all I know how to do is punish rich people. The second half of my post advocated a reward for rich people. Go back and read it again Rhino and you will see.

  13. When the rich people fully fund the military then the military is likely to shrink to the size it needs to be to effectively protect the wealth, but no bigger.

    This assumes that the people who pay a tax control how that tax is spent. If anyone can think of this ever actually happening, let us know.

    Wouldn’t we rather have a military that protects the whole country, rather than just the rich bits?

  14. Wouldn’t we rather have a military that protects the whole country, rather than just the rich bits?

    There is no such thing as the rich bits RCD. Nice bluff, but you’re called on it. That army would protect against invasions and bombing, just like the current military, but at a fraction of the price.

  15. In retrospect, Reiner might have gotten closer to his honorable goal with a smaller program directed at the poorest kids and requiring a smaller tax increase. Is there a lesson here on how to expand health insurance coverage?

    I don’t see this as evidence that anybody got religion on taxes. Once again, the lesson to be learned is don’t screw the pre-schools of Soccer/Security Moms.

    Want to learn something from this about expanding health insurance coverage? …make sure your plan doesn’t screw with the health plans of Soccer/Security Moms or their children.

  16. nmg is right, this surely wasn’t a referendum on higher taxes. In fact, most people didn’t vote for it because it wasn’t progressive enough. Even the vote guide’s “Con” treatment was solely focused on the fact that the new initiative would put rich kids through preschool just as easily as poor kids. That, of course, can’t be allowed.

  17. “taxpayers aren’t being selfish when they place a heavy burden on those who would ask them to part with some of their money. Advocates of public action need to meet that test.”

    But they never will meet that test, unless voters stand firm on “no new taxes.” What are the odds on that? You can bet that the tax-raisers are looking as hard as they can for magic hot-buttons to hit in future elections. As soon as they find them, it’ll be back to business as usual.

    Here in Santa Cruz CA, it is rare that the populace will vote against any tax or bond, especially one that purports to help the children. For example, we voted overwhelmingly (58% to 42%) to pass the library bond proposition (81), although the full State defeated it. We did defeat Rob Reiner’s preschool program (Prop 82), but I doubt that this was a repudiation of taxation. Instead, I think Reiner was spanked partially in payback for his misuse of tobacco tax funds to promote Prop 82, and partially because people thought about the proposed preschool program for a while, and realized that 1) it didn’t really guarantee “universal access”; and 2) a lot of what people liked about preschools now, would go away under the Reiner plan. But Reiner will be back after licking his wounds and learning his lessons.

  18. Dillon says, “… the most practical voting solution for New York & California citizens — is to ‘Vote with Your Feet’.

    Many have seen the light.”

    And then there are those who actually like California, though not the gangs that have been in power these past few decades. Some of us were actually born here, and worry that if we let the transients and gangsters (official and unofficial) run us out, we may never be able to come back.

    Voting doesn’t seem to be very effective. Voting with one’s feet is to embrace de agony of de-feet. So how else might someone make his stand and defend the “country” of his birth/heart?

  19. re: So how else might someone make his stand and defend the “country” of his birth/heart?

    Amen. I thought of “voting with my feet” once, but came to the conclusion that California is where I was born and its where I belong.

    Tuesday’s elections were hearting, by the way. My pet theory is that Californians are starting to vote no on everything because there have been too many special elections lately.

  20. And then there are those who actually like California, though not the gangs that have been in power these past few decades.

    Ditto for New York. Despite the high taxes, bullying of smokers and other annoyances I can’t imagine living anywhere else.

  21. Ditto for New York. Despite the high taxes, bullying of smokers and other annoyances I can’t imagine living anywhere else.

    I understand people who’ve been in prison sometimes have a hard time adjusting to life on the outside. …but after a while, you’d get used to it.

  22. This doesn’t sound like too much aof a tax revolt; they’re proosing to raise one tax to pay for cutting another, rather than cutting the size of government.

    Dave W. proposes a wealth tax instead of an income tax; I respectfully suggest taxing land values instead. Rex Rhino points out that taxing wealth creates a disincentive to produce wealth, which is true, but taxing land creates no disincentive to produce land, since none is being produced in any event. You can learn more from my website, or try Googling on “Henry George.”

  23. Rex Rhino points out that taxing wealth creates a disincentive to produce wealth

    and what does an income tax disincentize?

    I would guess that property taxes disincentize things as well, most likely depressing land prices.

    I am arguing that the class of people who benefit from a gov’t expenditure are the same as the class who should pay for it, and part of that price will always include various kinds of economic disincentives. For defense, the class is people with wealth, primarily. For education it is everybody in society.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.