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Jump on the ‘Boost-Your-Taxes’ bandwagon

Jeff Ackerman

Okay, my fellow Californians. The jig is up. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, we don’t pay nearly enough taxes. In fact, the Chronicle says 18 other states pay more in taxes and fees than we do. At least as a percentage of income.

That news flash couldn’t have come at a better time for gubernatorial candidate (and current lieutenant gubernatorial) Cruz Boost-Your-Taxes…I mean…Bust-A-Mante.

If elected to replace his current office mate and brother from another mother, Bustamante promises to get tough on anyone who failed to donate less than $500,000 to his campaign. That would leave the Indian gamers and labor unions firmly in charge of California. Status quo, in other words. Some good recall money down the drain, in other words.

The average taxpayer and business owner, however, would be in deep, deep do-do. Especially now that Boost-Your-Taxes knows how much room for tax boosting and fee hiking there really is.

Somewhere in the middle of that investigative piece on taxes were a couple of paragraphs noting that Californians probably just think they pay a lot in taxes and fees because the cost of living here is so much higher than most anywhere else in the country.

In Louisiana, for example, you probably don’t notice the high taxes because your 3,000-square-foot home costs $100,000. At that price you even tolerate the alligators and dead people floating past your home during floods (they bury their dead above ground in New Orleans, you know). A pad on the Bijou, complete with fishing dock and hammock, is relatively cheap as a percentage of income.

But in Sausalito, where a one-bedroom studio apartment goes for $2,400 a month, taxes are noticed.

The study also noted that California has the highest gasoline prices in the country. As a California driver and taxpayer, I really don’t care what they pay for gasoline and taxes in Maine. I don’t live or drive there. Not even for lobster.

Which brings me to food. I’ve eaten hamburgers in Oregon, New York, the District of Columbia and New Mexico, where, according to the Chronicle, people pay more in taxes and fees than we do. But I’ve never paid $9 for one like I did in San Francisco last weekend. I kid you not. I don’t know how people in San Francisco can afford to eat, let alone pay taxes and drive. The Ackerman Family dropped a G-Note during a three-day Labor Day Weekend stay in the City By The Bay and we were still hungry when we got home.

The Chronicle also didn’t tell us what those other states with higher taxes and fees give their taxpayers in return for their money. For all we know, the service is better in those states.

Take highways, for example. In fact…take Highway 101, for example. On a drive from San Jose to San Francisco your teeth rattle so much you need dentures by the time you reach the Candlestick Park exit. And last time I drove through L.A. the head on my hula-dancing bobble-head doll flew out the window. The state owes me $6.93, by the way. I loved that doll.

And if the bridge tolls go up any more it’ll be cheaper to helicopter in and out.

The study also didn’t cover the costs of doing business in California. Take workers compensation insurance, for example. The price tag is now $29 billion a year. When you consider that there are only 15 million or so workers here, that’s a bucket of money per employee (my calculator blows up at a billion). One study showed that injured workers in California have 49 percent more visits with physicians and twice as many chiropractor visits than those in other states. Geeze…I don’t know…do you think there’s something fishy going on?

Even Costco can’t afford California anymore. Costco’s CEO last week said that although 30 percent of the firm’s employees are in California, 70 percent of its worker’s compensation costs are here. He is considering laying off his Golden State employees and moving much of the operations out of state.

If elected, Boost-Your-Taxes (who has never signed the front of a paycheck) promises to go after the rich. But the Chronicle pointed out that the rich are already carrying more than their share of the tax burden. “We stick it to the rich like you’ve never seen,” one tax expert told the Chronicle. “The people who are undertaxed are the middle class.”

Uh-oh. Boost-Your-Taxes doesn’t want to go down that road. “If elected I promise to tax the middle class!” That doesn’t resonate well with voters. Much better to take the Robin Hood approach. We generally hate rich people. Unless we need a donation for our favorite charity.

If that fails there’s always “BIG BUSINESS.” You know…the guys with the few remaining jobs in California. Yeah…let’s go after them. That will stimulate the economy like Nobody’s Business. At least until Nobody gets smart and moves his business to Nevada.

So stop your whining, Californians. Or…as they say in Napa…’you want some cheese with that whine?’ We have a chance to put California back on top where it belongs. Vote for Boost-Your-Taxes and we’ll make New York’s state tax and fee structure look like chump change.

Jeff Ackerman, a former Lake Tahoe resident, is publisher of The Union newspaper in Grass Valley.


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