Ed Driscoll

'Stay the Hell Out of New York and California'


“New York and California Suck For Taxpayers, and For Freedom,” J.D. Tuccille writes at Reason’s Hit & Run blog:

New York and California are the worst and second worst states in terms of tax burden, in what is less than shocking news from the financial website, WalletHub. The ranking tallies annual state and local taxes, and puts the Golden State and the Empire State at the bottom of the heap, with Wyoming and Alaska at the top as the two least burdensome states for taxpapers in a listing that also includes the District of Columbia (number 37, if you’re curious).

In and of itself, the ranking is helpful—but it’s also helpful to cross-reference the tax ranking with separate rankings of economic liberty and overall freedom to see how they correlate. The result is a handy guide to places to live—or avoid like the plague.

And the two state’s government propaganda complexes can certainly tag-team disinformation remarkably well in an effort to fool the cocooned suckers. In City Journal, Ben Boychuk explores “The Myth of the California Renaissance,” noting that — of course — “The New York Times turns a blind eye to the Golden State’s many woes:”

To call California a “failed state” and “ungovernable” would be hyperbolic—it is home to more millionaires than any other state. But California also has the nation’s highest poverty rate and the most food stamp recipients, and policymakers have done little to address profligate spending, unfunded pensions, and ever-growing retiree health-care obligations. So it’s equally wrong to say that the Golden State is enjoying an economic “turnaround.”

You wouldn’t know much of this from reading Timothy Egan’s recent column in the New York Times touting a “Golden State revival.” Egan is an experienced practitioner of a burgeoning new journalistic subgenre that describes a state emerging from a decade of fiscal darkness to reclaim its place as an innovative, diverse, entrepreneurial haven. It’s a compelling tale, and some of it is even true—but as Egan and others tell it, it’s incomplete.

About this time last year, Egan visited San Simeon, home of the glorious—if currently parched—Hearst Castle, and declared that “the Golden State is looking toward tomorrow once again.” Parts of it, anyway. The golden California dream has never been brighter for those who can afford life along the coastal strip. If you’re living in La Jolla, Newport Beach, Santa Monica, Monterey, Palo Alto, or San Francisco, you’re probably doing well. Drive an hour to the east from any of these places, and the landscape is much different physically and economically. Inland California, from Imperial in the south to Modoc in the north, remains one of the poorest regions in the nation. Though the state unemployment rate fell in February to 8.1 percent, inland unemployment ranges from 9.5 percent in Riverside to 25.9 percent in Colusa. Of the 20 counties in the United States with the largest unemployment rates, 11 are in California.

As Boychuk writes, “A genuine California resurgence is possible. But the only renaissance underway right now is in the heads of certain politicians—and their friends at the New York Times.

For much more on California’s myriad woes, check out my interview from October with City Journal’s Heather Mac Donald on the collapse of the once Golden State.