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home : opinions : op ed columnist February 5, 2016

8/25/2014 4:02:00 PM
Wisconsin, taxes and the wealth of the states

By Charles Boyd

In continuing my studies in politics, economics, and history I have just read an interesting book entitled “An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of States,” by authors Dr. Arthur B. Laffer and Stephen Moore. The book (with massive tables) provides excellent insight into how key political, social, and econometric factors affect the overall economic progress of the individual states. An intelligent analysis of this book’s results provides some excellent backup material which warns voters about what to expect if they elect progressive, tax-hungry Democrats (like Mary Burke) to office in Wisconsin. Here are a few excerpted items from this very informative book:

In 2010, Wisconsin was the fifth-worst state in total personal tax burden, with only California, Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York providing its citizens with a less desirable personal tax environment.

Wisconsin is the eighth worst state for property tax burden (as a percentage of gross state product – GSP). The seven states that have heavier property tax burdens are all in those totally Democrat-controlled states in the Northeast. Barely one step better than Wisconsin on the “worst state” scale is that Democrat tax bastion, Illinois. 

In comparing a decade’s worth of growth for states with 0.00 percent personal income tax verses states with the highest personal income tax: GSP growth was 62 percent vs. 46.4 percent, personal income growth was 58.7 percent vs. 46.4 percent, nonfarm employment growth was 8.9 percent vs. 1.7 percent, and domestic in-migration growth was 3.9 percent vs. -2.2 percent. (Negative in-migration growth means people are moving out to states with more favorable tax environments). 

In comparing a decade’s worth of growth for Right-to-Work (RTW) states verses states with mandatory unionization: GSP growth was 59.1 percent vs. 45.4 percent, personal income growth was 58 percent vs. 45.2 percent, and nonfarm employment growth was 6.8 percent vs. 1.9 percent. 

In comparing a decade’s worth of growth for states retaining the $7.25 federal minimum-wage verses states with significantly higher minimum wages: GSP growth was 55.3 percent vs. 45.9 percent, personal income growth was 54.0 percent vs. 46.2 percent, and nonfarm employment growth was 5.3 percent vs. 2.3 percent.

A typical Democrat’s retort would say that although increased taxes may have a stunting effect on growth, that all important goal of “improved” quality-of-life associated with applying new sources of revenue to schools, roads, police protection, hospitals, and income supplements for the disadvantaged offsets the decline in economic growth. The authors address that topic directly in a chapter entitled: “No Bang for the Buck – How Costly Tax Increases Fail to Result in Better Provision of Public Services.” The study results can easily be summarized by the broad statement: tax increases generally provide “zero” enhancement of public services. 

Multiple charts of state by state economic progress during the decade from 2002 to 2012 (before Governor Scott Walker’s policies really set in) show Wisconsin’s rank at 34th in the country. Also clearly shown in the charts are the poor economic performances of Democrat controlled states such as Michigan. Of course the source of Michigan’s problem can be summarized by one word, Detroit. Total Democratic party control for over 5 decades has managed to transform a thriving 1960 metropolis of 1,800,000 happy people (with the highest per-capita income in the nation) into a bankrupt hell-hole of 700,000 people with high unemployment, high illiteracy, very high crime rate, 78,000 abandoned homes, and a significant number of homes selling for less than $500.00. Detroit’s depleted police force has even posted signs on roads saying “Enter at your own risk” and reports indicate that 911 emergency call response times are moving towards the 1 hour mark. 

Bottom line is that if you like the idea of making Wisconsin a leader among high tax and poor growth states like Michigan and Illinois then by all means make yours a “zero information” vote for a Democratic candidate. 

Otherwise stay with Governor Walker’s plan to have Wisconsin emulate those successful low tax, right-to-work, positive growth states like Texas and the Dakotas. 

Charles Boyd is a resident of Manitowish Waters.

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