A collection of essays that skewers California state government for confiscatory taxation and ideological partisanship.
In his second book, Lacy (Taxifornia: Liberals’ Laboratory to Bankrupt America, 2014) carefully curates a series of pieces that focus on the destructive consequences of California’s tax system. The book as a whole largely anatomizes the issue from three broad perspectives. First, the state’s approach to taxation, it says, is starving business by creating punitive obstacles to commercial activity. It also asserts that the increasing aggrandizement of the state’s bureaucracy has generated massive inefficiencies in the ways that basic public services are delivered. Finally, the underlying impetus for such aggressive taxation, it says, is the satisfaction of liberal ideological commitments rather than any clearly definable, nonpartisan good. In his essay “Why Stay?” Liftable Media chairman Floyd Brown argues that the primary purpose of California’s obsession with tax collection is to reward public unions for their continued electoral loyalty, creating a form of collusion at the expense of the taxpaying public. Journalist Katy Grimes contends that prodigal spending on “ineffectual antipoverty programs, police sensitivity training, and community-based youth and outreach services” has failed to reign in Oakland’s spiraling problem with crime and that the state at large is following suit. Orange County Water District director Shawn Dewane examines California’s well-publicized struggle with its water supply, contending that the state’s shortage is more a function of its deference to partisan environmental policies than a scarcity of natural resources: “Half of the state’s water supply is reserved for environmental purposes—and environmentalists get first priority. In times of drought, everyone else takes a cut first.” City Journal editor and Sacramento Bee columnist Ben Boychuk attempts to draw a causal line from the state’s taxation to its burgeoning inequality, saying that California essentially creates a prospering class of civil servants at the fiscal expense of others. These essays by respected experts are rigorously presented and provocatively argued. Lacy is upfront that the book comes from a conservative and libertarian viewpoint, so readers looking for an essay or two defending a liberal perspective will be disappointed. However, this collection effectively challenges the conventional wisdom about the causes of California’s economic distress.
A spirited, thoughtful anthology.