Monday, July 28, 2008

Assembly Speaker To Fix Tax System

Back from an oh-so-brief brief respite from the Bay Area lunacy, I immediately noticed that our Assembly speaker claims to want to "solve" the state's chronically unbalanced budget by reviewing the tax system.

When I first read the headlines about this suggestion, I became somewhat excited, thinking maybe people were coming to grips with the harm done to California's economy by its ridiculously high tax rates of all stripes.In announcing the formation of a commission to look at the tax system, Democrat Speaker Karen Bass said quite a few things I found compelling. For example, she "discovered" the fact that 80 percent of the state's income tax burden is borne by the top 10 percent of income earners. Almost 50 percent is paid by the top 1 percent of earners.

Of course, in my opinion she hasn't even scratched the surface of the absurdity of our income tax system. For example, California has chosen to treat income and capital gains as exactly the same. That means a person might pay a 15 percent federal capital gains tax on a sale of stock and then be hit with 10.3 percent in California taxes, nearly doubling the tax burden. Talk about an advertisement for moving to Nevada.

Unfortunately, Bass can't help but throw in a pet project -- something about foster care funding. And, digging deeper into the issue made it pretty clear to me that this is all just a ruse to extend sales taxes to the service economy. Most likely this is just another in a long line of Democrat tax-reform proposals that amount to new revenue grabs.

Considering the terrible situation facing the state, that's not exactly surprising. I realize the governor claims he's going to start paying state workers minimum wage to save money, but everyone knows that's just a ploy.

The truth is the state's budget is teetering because of costly giveaways to public employee unions and vast increases in the cost of indigent health care. A poor economy doesn't help matters.

Let's just hope our slim 1/3-plus-a-few margin of Republicans in the state legislature holds firm and categorically refuses to raise taxes. It's time to make the government live within its means.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Edgerly Out

Apparently, Mayor Dellums decided he didn't want to allow Oakland City Manager Deborah Edgerly to delay her retirement. The Oakland Tribune is reporting he fired her today.

As indicated previously, I intend to tread very lightly here. It is not surprising to me that Edgerly immediately retained a high-profile attorney when this episode began. And I view significant risk in talking too openly about what's happened here.

I would, however, like to take a moment to point out how poorly Dellums has handled this situation. It was a grave error for him to presume Edgerly's hands were clean and jump to her defense at the initial press conference.

Any reasonably intelligent person could see at the outset that this situation was likely to end this way. Dellums' job is to defend the city, and he should have jumped to our defense, not Edgerly's. Now, he's set up a situation where we as a city are almost guaranteed to be sued for multiple millions of dollars.

All of this leads me to question why Dellums defended Edgerly so vigorously in the first place. It seems he views situations like this one through an "us versus then" lens.

This is particularly odd to me, considering Oakland is essentially a one-party town. There is no real political opposition, so there's no "them" to fear.

The only other "us versus them" element I can think of in this situation is some sort of racial one. But, well-versed as I am in 2008 political correctness, I'll stop right there.

In any event, if you read the Tribune article, you'll see that the supposed reason for Dellums action is some problem with a particular statement Edgerly made to the media.

How wonderfully petulant and whimsical. Our mayor appears to care nothing for defending our city; rather he appears to make purely emotional decisions based on who has "crossed" him.

It's hard to think of a single good thing to say about Dellums. Such a shame.