Our friends at the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn. brought this editorial from the Daily Breeze to our attention, noting that today, with the 1-cent sales tax hike taking effect, Californians begin to pay for the "failures" of our leaders. That's the same language often employed by Gov. Schwarzenegger, or at least it was before the economy tanked so badly that even he concluded that California had to raise taxes.
I've never been a fan of that way of looking at the problem. Not because I don't think our leaders have failed. They have, in many ways and at many times. My problem with it is that it distracts the reader from what is really going on.
California has been spending more than it is taking in. The state is spending that money on stuff for us: schools, roads, prisons, mental health care, doctors and hospitals for poor kids, etc. Yes, the state and its leaders should have been more prudent, and should have done more to keep that spending under control. But the higher taxes we are paying now are not some sort of abstract penalty we are all stuck with because our leaders are so feckless. The taxes are paying for services we and our fellow Californians are receiving, or have received in the recent past.
If you think those services are too expensive, or too generous, then say so. It would also be helpful if you noted exactly which services you would like to cut back or eliminate.
That's really what is at issue here.
So when you start paying that higher tax today, and if it bothers you, think about which state services you'd rather do without, and let your legislator know what they are.
We're not so much paying for anyone's "failure" as we are paying for more services than we could afford with the taxes we were paying last year.