Government making (in)equality pay

Just about a year ago, columnist Howard Fineman opined in the then-moribund Newsweek about the shift-to-the-right of Prez-44 and actually quoted the usually-despised-by-the-Progressives Irving Kristol, who's well known for the acerbic (and actually autobiographical) observation that "a conservative is a liberal who's been mugged by reality" to describe his painful Presidential rightward concessions. It was Kristol's son, William, who founded The Weekly Standard in 1994, a journalistic enterprise which, like The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and Fox News, is under Murdoch leadership. I won't expend column-inches on the recent demise of Newsweek vs. the success of The Weekly Standard, similarly for Fox News vs. the old networks on the ratings scale, or the Journal growing in readership while the Grey Lady of 43rd Street shrinks, and all the well-known Fourth Estate "muggees" ranging from Podhoretz to Krauthammer who've moved from Left to Right, except to conclude that Vermont's proudly Progressive Guv-81, Peter Shumlin, may be (however improbably) striving for the same "muggee" label.

My thesis is based on the barely-credible news that the new Administration wants to "slash" (the verb-of-choice in the AP news report) "income tax rates by about a third and enact the largest expansion of the State's sales tax since it was enacted 41 years ago," which is the just-voted recommendation of the Guv's Blue (not Red) Ribbon Tax Structure Commission. I'd guess it will be revealed later this month as 2 percent added to the present 6, putting Vermont right (pun intended) up there in the Tennessee and South Carolina group, while really blue States like Oregon are still at 0 because of basic ideology: income taxes are superior to sales taxes because they're Progressive and re-distributive, while sales taxes are regressive and consumption-based. Oregon is also in the news these days, and for a related reason: like California and New Jersey, it has experienced a statistically-remarkable flight of upper-income taxpayers. A WSJ editorial (Dec. 21, 2010) described how "Oregon raised its income tax on the richest 2 percent of its resident last year, but now the State treasury admits that it collected nearly 1/3 less revenues than its bean-counters projected ... the State expected 38,000 Oregonians to pay the higher tax, but only 28,000 did ... an instant replay of what happened in Maryland in 2008, when the Legislature instituted a millionaire tax ... roughly 1/3 of the millionaire households vanished ..." As brighter-than-the-rest-of-us Progressives, the technical-experts-in-governance Commission members were aware of the flight-of-the-rich syndrome and realized that, lacking the internal passport system controlling inter-Oblast movement established by the USSR, the U.S. has, unfortunately, no comparable government controls on citizen inter-State choice-of-movement. Not even an exit fee. (Ooops, New Jersey has one tapping pre-departure real-estate sales, but it has recently lost some $70 billion of taxable wealth anyway.)

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