William Voegeli has analyzed why California is crashing and burning while Texas is doing all right and has concluded that given a choice between high taxes and lousy services and low taxes and lousy services, people will choose the latter.
California is one of the most highly taxed states. In theory, people are willing to pay high taxes if they receive a high level of public services in return. In reality, special interest groups — especially public employee unions — have gamed the system to benefit themselves. California’s public employees are the highest paid in the country, and have gold-plated pensions that are the envy of everybody but executives at JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs. The actual quality of services received by the public is rather poor. California’s schools, for example, have the highest paid teachers, but rank 45th in the country. As Voegeli puts it so well, “The “dues” paid by taxpayers in order to belong to Club California purchase benefits that, increasingly, are enjoyed by the staff instead of the members.”
Texas, on the other hand, has no personal income tax. It’s schools aren’t that great, but they cost a lot less than California’s. Texas also spends its tax dollars more on taxpayer priorities than does California:
Texas students “are, on average, one to two years of learning ahead of California students of the same age,” even though per-pupil expenditures on public school students are 12% higher in California. The details of the Census Bureau data show that Texas not only spends its citizens’ dollars more effectively than California but emphasizes priorities that are more broadly beneficial. Per capita spending on transportation was 5.9% lower in California, and highway expenditures in particular were 9.5% lower, a discovery both plausible and infuriating to any Los Angeles commuter losing the will to live while sitting in yet another freeway traffic jam.
Right now, the only thing keeping California afloat is a Federal bailout. In other words, taxpayers in the other 49 states are paying to support California’s bloated state budget and lavish public employee benefits. And in an age of trillion dollar deficits, a lot of that money is coming from abroad.
The USA’s ability to borrow debt is based on our stature and indispensability to the global community. The Obama administration is hell-bent on reducing both; making our country more humble, less sovereign, and militarily weaker. They are racking up record deficits while simultaneously reducing the incentives for other countries to lend us money. This is idiocy.