6.28.2007

The good life: it takes $$$

George Skelton, in something on the front page of the LA Times that belongs there:

No, the lesson from the Tahoe wildfire is this: There's no economy in numbers because of an exploding population — no growth discount for taxpayers funding the services they need.

It's precisely the opposite: The more people we cram into California — not just beneath the pines and along the waterfronts, but into the comfy suburbs and struggling inner cities — the more it's going to cost each of us. Cost us not only to retain some semblance of the California lifestyle, but often to survive. There's a premium to be paid for living here, and it keeps rising...

Here is one example of how ridiculous our tax system is:

My wife and I are partners with some other people in a condo on Tahoe's north shore. Because the place has been, for tax purposes, under the same ownership for decades, our property tax bite is a laugher: only one-seventh of our neighbor's, who bought his condo just last year. Mind you, ours isn't even a personal residence. It's a vacation retreat.

A lot of us aren't paying our fair share, especially we who live in tinderboxes.

Preventing and suppressing wildfires is just one government expense that increases for each Californian as the population grows.

We also have to pay for water supply and flood protection. The water gets harder and more expensive to find; people keep crowding into flood plains near leaky levees. Because all this is so pricey, we have to borrow at double the cost, counting interest.

Never mind natural disasters. Just packing people into densely populated areas causes problems.

I call this the chicken coop syndrome, observed as a boy while growing up on a small citrus ranch in Ojai. The more chickens we'd cram into the coop, the more they'd act up, compete, fight. That's nature. And it's human nature.

It requires big bucks for gang suppression — and also for locking up bad guys in separate pens. Isolating criminals is something the public favors in concept, but doesn't want to pay for with higher taxes.

Just getting people into crowded cities for work requires increasingly more tax dollars to build longer, wider freeways — or improving rapid transit. Either way, it's public money.

The more people there are, the heavier each Californian's tax burden. ....

But we can have it all — the mountain paradises, affordable universities, civilized commutes — if we're willing to pay, which is something anti-tax Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger doesn't want to hear.
See, I'm not in favor of more socialism out of idealism; if I had ideals, I wouldn't have come to Hollywood. It's just that we need a little more socialism.

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