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The love of taxes is the root of unhappiness, Part II
New evidence from the dismal science confirms what social science has already shown: the love of taxes is the root of unhappiness.
The original social science, from the December 2009 issue of Science, indicated that states with the highest taxes also have the least happy residents. Residents of high tax states not only have less money to spend on other things that make them happy, they don’t enjoy many benefits in exchange for all their hard-earned tax dollars. Roads, schools, and crime are no better (and in many cases worse) while their state governments borrow even more and spend disproportionately on public employee pensions and entitlement programs. Their needs ignored at the expense of entrenched special interests, taxpayers get unhappy. And then they get out.
From this one might argue causation; high taxes = unhappiness. While we are certainly sympathetic to that point of view, we also have to wonder if it runs vice-versa, or at least cuts both ways: unhappy people like to raise taxes.
We are… happy. And happy to report that’s true for our region as well. NVSE readers already know that the Southeast’s advantages extend well beyond the matter of taxes and include lower public sector debt burdens, stronger job creation, the best climate for entrepreneurs, and a superior overall business climate. (The actual climate happens to be conducive to a great quality of life as well.)
The more recent dismal science is courtesy of The Red-State Path to Prosperity, from Arthur B. Laffer and Stephen Moore in last week’s Wall Street Journal:
Consider the South. We predict that within a decade five or six states in Dixie could entirely eliminate their income taxes. This would mean that the region stretching from Florida through Texas and Louisiana could become a vast state income-tax free zone. Three of these states—Florida, Texas and Tennessee—already impose no income tax. Louisiana and North Carolina… are moving quickly ahead with plans to eliminate theirs. Just to the west, Kansas and Oklahoma are also devising plans to replace their income taxes with more growth-friendly expanded sales taxes and energy extraction taxes…
All the empirical evidence shows that raising a state’s tax burden weakens its tax base. Still, too many blue-state lawmakers believe that a primary purpose of government is to redistribute income from rich to poor, even if those policies make everyone, including the poor, less well off. The obsession with “fairness” puts growth secondary. Meanwhile, in the South, watch for a zero-income-tax domino effect.
Here Mr. Laffer further discusses how blue states are struggling to compete for businesses and workers with the Journal‘s Mary Kissel: