Many letter writers seem to feel they must make a derogatory comment about someone who disagrees with them. In his opening paragraph, D.W. Tiffee (“Oklahoma is not OK,” Feb. 29) claims that the Oklahoma Council on Public Affairs is “deranged” because it supports a reduction in or the elimination of state income taxes. Remarks like this weaken arguments Tiffee makes to support his position.
Tiffee reports Oklahoma’s per capita gross state product growth of 14 percent over the last 10 years was the third-highest in the nation. This “statistic” is almost meaningless. Without knowing the per capita gross state product growth in all states, the ranking of the third highest is not worth a bucket of warm spit. Are you better off than you were 10 years ago?
He also tells us between 2000 and 2010 Oklahoma per capita income grew faster than six of the nine states with no income tax. Perhaps this is true, but where did you stand in relation to those states in 2000? If you start a race 100 yards behind your competitors, you might only be 90 yards behind after one lap of the track. You ran faster for one lap but you are still behind.
Tiffee argues that middle-class families are better off in terms of mean income when the percentage of the gross domestic product taken by the federal government is high. If you ever have the chance to see how family income is calculated, you might question this claim.
Say your family makes $40,000 per year and you pay $10,000 in tax, which leaves you $30,000 to spend. According to the government bureaucrats, you receive $15,000 in benefits (the $10,000 you pay in taxes plus $5,000 they borrowed from China).
Therefore, your family income is $45,000 ($30,000 you took home plus the $15,000 you get in benefits). However, can you pay rent, buy food, etc., with this $15,000 in phantom income?
If money can be made out of thin air, perhaps we need to raise the state income tax rate in Oklahoma rather than lower it. All of the problems Tiffee identified would be solved and Oklahoma would become the second Eden. The only remaining question would be how high should we go? I am sure that Tiffee would argue that the current rate of 5.25 percent isn’t high enough and the former rate of 7 percent was not high enough. Would Tiffee support a state income tax rate of 10 percent? If that’s good, why not 20 percent?
States with no income tax gained eight seats in the U.S. House in 2010. High income-tax states lost five seats. People are voting with their feet if they can. Oklahoma originally had eight seats in the House. Oklahoma now has five.
It’s time to try something different.
Maybe eliminating the income tax will not solve all our problems, but continuing to do the same thing and expecting to get different results is madness.
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