[San Francisco Chronicle]: Economics reporter Sam Zuckerman continues his excellent ‘fact based’ series on what’s really up with the California economy.
The widely held view that California
is unusually harsh in taxing its people — which is echoing
especially loudly in the state’s gubernatorial recall campaign —
is largely a myth.
It turns out that California ranks a
mere 19th out of all 50 states and the District of Columbia in
the tax burden it imposes on individuals and businesses.
Some statements get repeated so often — by politicians, reporters and
just plain folk — that they come to be taken as gospel truth, even if
that facts don’t support them. ‘Taxifornia’ is one; Zuckerman’s taken care of that one. ‘High taxes driving business out of California’ is another; it turns out that taxes are low on businesses’ list of complaints, Zuckerman reports. ‘Americans are overtaxed’ is yet another; but compare the numbers to other industrialized countries
and clearly we’re not (though there’s an argument to be made over
whether we get what we pay for). ‘Best health care system in the world’
shows the error from the other direction; the stats don’t support that statement, despite our heroic medical technology.
I should note that Sam is one of my oldest and best friends. But that
doesn’t stop me from recognizing real journalism when I see it. If only
more of his brethren were willing to do their homework. Kudos to the
Chronicle too — an often insubstantial paper that’s given him the
running room to take on these myths. (Last week: Think a governor can fix the economy? Think again.)
Now, if they’d only give him a few more inches, so he could back up statements like For businesses, tax levels are not particularly high, but tax regulation can be burdensome.