October 25, 2012 | 30 comments
Phil Mickelson keeps apologizing for telling the truth about higher taxes.
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To be sure, it’s impossible to know exactly what role taxes played in each man’s ultimate decision to pick up stakes. What is certain, however, is the near unanimous preference for Florida over equally sunny Southern California.
Even the great Tiger Woods, when asked for a reaction to his rival’s comments, revealed that taxes were a factor in his own decision to leave California — for Florida — in the mid-nineties. “Well, I moved out of here back in ’96 for that reason,” Woods stated matter-of-factly.
Tiger could have ended his remarks with, “What? You guys look surprised.”
So why does Lefty, who has paid California taxes for years, receive such vitriol when the rest of the PGA seems destined for Orlando and Boca Raton?
Was his 63% figure too high? Should it have been a more reasonable 52% (which remember, according to the Daily Beast, wasn’t really the point)? I mean, it’s not as though Phil did anything unforgiveable, like criticize Obama. He doesn’t appear to be asking for a handout or for Deadspin’s snotty faux-sympathy. Rather, Mickelson is simply expressing the possibility that he, like Tiger Woods and millions of Californians before him, might relocate to a place where he can keep a larger chunk of his paycheck.
Liberal outrage is a funny thing. It usually springs from a sense of political self-preservation. Mickelson’s real sin was putting a face — a very recognizable face — on an economic reality that Democrats are determined to avoid: Higher tax rates do not guarantee more tax dollars. In fact, as Woods’ comments demonstrate, they often result in driving tax dollars away.
California has long considered itself America’s “Promised Land.” It’s natural beauty unsurpassed, it boasts both the innovations of Silicon Valley and the glamour of Tinsel Town. Despite its historic advantages however, modern California finds itself in something of an economic death spiral. Not only does it have the highest deficit of any state (the governor’s specious surplus projections notwithstanding). But now, as Mickelson well knows, it claims the highest income taxes as well (incredible how those two features go together).
Unsurprisingly, California’s legislature has long been dominated by the Democratic Party, which now maintains a supermajority in both chambers. Through a series of poor economic policies, California has seen its tax base dwindle and its deficits skyrocket. According to a recent study by the Manhattan Institute, since 1990 the Golden State has witnessed a staggering 3.4 million residents pack up and go.
In this context, the invective hurled at Mickelson makes sense. Lefty’s potential departure — and the tax dollars he would take with him — can only shine light on the failures of Democratic ultra-progressive tax policies. Rather than actually bring more resources into the state, confiscatory tax rates do little more than motivate the richest section of the base to either shelter their wealth or simply leave town all together.
Liberals can’t make an economic argument for millionaires like Mickelson and Woods to stay put. Their best hope of keeping Lefty in California is to bully and shame him into submission. Such tactics may work on pro athletes, who rely on the public’s goodwill for endorsements dollars, but they will prove less effective on the majority of wealthy tax payers who will never appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
Advocates of California-style taxes might pat themselves on the back for devising a fair and equitable system, but they haven’t done the state any favors. There are no moral victories in tax policy. Grandstanding and bullying won’t keep the state’s lights on, at least not long term.
Regardless of one’s feelings toward Mickelson, California needs Lefty (and rich folks like him) to keep living on its sunny shores. With Democrats firmly entrenched, however, and anti-rich sentiment sky high, expect California to keep swinging big with even higher tax rates…and landing in the rough.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
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H/T to National Review Online