Re "Let's talk taxes," May 13
More power to Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles), our new Assembly speaker, and her proposal to consider revising our tax structure. The miracle of the Silicon Valley happened here because of our formerly great educational system. As I teach business writing workshops across the country, some younger participants explain their poor written English with an apologetic "I went to school in California." Are the state's glaring losses just fine with most Californians?
Schwarzenegger dropped wrecking balls on cars during his campaign to symbolize ending the car tax -- but the car tax was a mild burden compared with the diminished quality of life the governor and Legislature now offer us. Apparently Bass believes that taking a new look at the state's tax structure is not only a good idea but a necessary next step. At last: leadership.
Bass bemoans the tax structure but fails to mention that the main problem is that the state spends too much. Rather than throwing more money into a failed system, the money for the commission could be better spent trying to get us out of the gerrymandered mess we used to call the Assembly.
Bass wants to establish a commission to spend a year figuring out how to improve our tax structure. Please. I am so sick of politicians dodging tough issues by appointing commissions. Commissions talk, study and write reports and nothing ever happens. Anyone with the nerve to seek elective office should have already thought about the major public policy questions and be ready to take action without waiting for a commission's findings.
And why does the Bass commission need a whole year? A few minutes of Web surfing should unearth numerous thoughtful tax-reform proposals from prominent economists and think tanks. There is no shortage of interesting ideas out there, but there is a definite shortage of politicians with the guts to say, "This is what I think is right; let's go for it!"