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Old 11-08-2009, 05:30 PM
195 posts, read 398,543 times
Reputation: 74


Great piece by Paul Mulshine (Star-Ledger)


This article in the City Journal titled "The Big-Spending, High-Taxing, Lousy-Services Paradigm" is about California. But the author's conclusions apply equally to New Jersey.

William Voegeli makes the same point that I have been making for years: Don't believe politicians when they get up on their hind legs and tell you your state has high taxes because it provides a high level of services.

Those services don't exist. Every time I hear a Trenton pol tell me that I'm getting a high level of services in return for the extortionate level of taxes I pay, I ask that pol to name a single service provided today that wasn't provided before this state got an income tax in 1976.

I've yet to get an answer. The roads, libraries, schools, police services, fire services, etc. are all about the same as they were back then. And when I went to Rutgers in the early '70s, I paid about a tenth the tuition that it now costs to send my daughter there.

So where's the big improvement?

I don't see it. I'm sure you don't either. The improvement is enjoyed entirely by public employees, not the public. They have good salaries and great retirement benefits, and some can retire in their '40s. Meanwhile the rest of us will be working into our 80s to pay their pensions.

And it's the same in California, as Voegeli writes in comparing that state to Texas, which has much lower taxes but an equal level of service:

"What is surprising is the growing evidence that the low-benefit, low-tax alternative succeeds not only on its own terms but also according to the criteria used by defenders of high benefits and high taxes. Whatever theoretical claims are made for imposing high taxes to provide generous government benefits, the practical reality is that these public goods are, increasingly, neither public nor good: their beneficiaries are mostly the service providers themselves, and their quality is poor."

This is the problem here in Jersey, and as Voegeli notes, it is almost impossible to fix. Creating commissions to study efficiency and consolidation, as Chris Christie proposes, was tried in California and failed miserably. It won't work here either.

Anyway, read Voegeli's entire article if you wish to comment.

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