THE COHEN POV - Your nothing but a big fat piggy bank for the State, the County, and the City to be shaken down for their misguided social projects. Nowadays, it is always the government first, illegals second, the homeless third, and taxpayers dead last. Are taxes really fines we pay for other people’s bad behavior?
California has a $68 billion budget deficit, or maybe it's only $30+ billion after we drain our rainy-day fund, or is it what some experts expect: $75 to $80 Billion of red ink? California has no revenue problem because we have the highest income, gas, sales, capital gains, taxes, and high property taxes. These exorbitantly expensive taxes are causing many people to stop California dreaming and dream of leaving. We have an affordability problem not just because housing is expensive but also because the taxes are too dang high. But never is a tax too high for the bureaucracy or too large for officials in this State. In 2022, according to Statista.com, the State Government collected $280.83 billion or 138% more than the next closest State, which is New York. This figure does not account for all the Property and Sales taxes collected. Yet propositions and advertising campaigns are being drafted to convince us that we need more taxes to cure our self-imposed bad policy problems.
The first taxing black hole is the homeless problem, where we create a special class of citizens that automatically have free get-out-of-jail cards and free housing at over $800,000 a pop. A reasonable estimate of the money spent between the County and the City is $2 Billion a year on people without shelter. For that kind of money, you would expect to see a gigantic drop in homelessness, which is merely a code word for mentally ill, drug-addicted people running around, camping outdoors. Yes, Los Angeles does have an affordable housing problem, but addicts don't care about housing as much as they care about their next fix. We should give up on housing first and primarily go to a treatment and shelter model.
Furthermore, any sane adult in a family would move to a lower-rent area of the State or the US before putting their family out on the streets. We have ineffectively managed the money earmarked for combatting drugs, thugs, mental illness, and homelessness. It's going to unaccountable, unauditable, agencies, and non-profits, overseen by bureaucrats, and administrators who cannot prove the efficacy of their ministrations. If a person wanted to live life large as a drug addict, they should head to CA because of the lax law enforcement, free hotel rooms, and free medical care. As we created a consequence-free zone for drugs and crimes, we are going to continue to attract a bigger homeless problem with all the ills that come with that problem. Why do they get free housing when we have to work our butts off for expensive housing?
Another black hole of budgetary profligate spending rendering us to 4th class citizens is Governor Newson giving free medical care to any undocumented alien-border crosser who asks for it. It's a new class of special non-citizens as they jump the line get benefits, we wish we all had. Why do they get free medical care when we taxpayers pay costly premiums to health insurers, sometimes for policy that have poor coverage? Why is it that when we don't pay for a mandatory healthcare policy, we are fined? All this free health care, estimated to be another 725,000 people, on Medical will add another $4,000,000,000 to State debt. Money we can ill afford. We continue to reward people for breaking the law at the expense of people who are obeying the law and are paying taxes. We continually suffer from policies dictated by the Governor, the Legislature, and the Mayor but we never voted on it and they never spelled it out in their social contract when electioneering to represent us.
Capital (money) is fluid and will go wherever it is best treated. Therefore, the exodus to lower-tax states like Florida, Texas, and Nevada will continue unabated. Until we reverse the lousy policy decisions which are treated as the gold standard of enlightened caring governance without any evidence to support the continuation of such policies. As long as Housing First and acceptance of blatant violations of the law amped up by zero bail polices are allowed, expect further deterioration in the quality of life, higher taxes, and more significant deficits. Unfortunately, on the next election day, I expect the voters will vote for the politicians with name recognition, who spend the most on social problems without proof that the largess they bestow on the issues and on their patrons’, non-profits will make anything better. The problem with ramping up more taxes is you run out of other people's money, as the red ink is rolling downhill from Sacramento onto local governments budgets aptly demonstrates. No State or Country has ever taxed their way to prosperity.
(Eliot Cohen is a contributor to CityWatchLA.com – [email protected])