The recent headline story and companion editorial in The Advocate was titled “Giving Away Loui$iana.”
For the title to work, it must start with the assumption that all income and profit earned by the state’s citizens and companies belongs first to the state. Then the state gives varying portions of it to those citizens and companies. It’s classic liberalism, if not socialism.
The article and companion editorial address the various tax credits and subsidies Louisiana offers to encourage its economy, such as the generous film industry tax breaks.
Let’s remember that Louisiana is not giving anything away. These are tax breaks and credits.
Louisiana is merely taking less from some than others.
The article does get a few things right, acknowledging that some industries wouldn’t have come to the state were it not for the tax incentives. And it says, “An alternative would be to simply let taxpayers keep more of their money.”
Operating that way would admittedly make titling the newspaper’s story more clumsy: “Taking less of the taxpayers’ money in the first place.”
Clumsy. As clumsy as the tax code, which grows ever more voluminous, complex and unfair under our current tax and credit system. The article makes that point as well.
What if we start with the assumption that wealth belongs first to its creators? Then agree what functions the state must perform to adequately govern and what it will cost. Then tax appropriately and fairly.
Such an assumption would likely lead away from an income tax to something more akin to the “fair tax,” basically a sales tax with a pre-bate system to keep from unduly burdening the poor.
If the citizens agree the state must do more, or governing costs rise, then the rate of such a sales tax could be raised as required. But that raise would apply equally, fairly and transparently to all taxpayers.
That states without income taxes, such as Texas and Florida, are doing well cannot be denied.
J. Douglas Fogg