Tuesday, June 09, 2009

This post would have been much easier to write a year or two or ago.

But somewhere along the line, I decided to stop being quite so freewheeling with the insults. So, I'll assume that Mark Singletary puts more time, energy and effort into editing the content of his paper than into writing his commentaries. I thought that last week's was pointless (see comment 4), but this week's commentary isn't much better:
Louisiana spends more than $6,500 per resident each year. That number is based on 2007 data from the Tax Foundation, an independent research center. We rank 10th in per-capita spending when compared with other states.

Florida and Texas, ranked 49th and 50th, spend the least per resident. It’s fair to assume that quality of life issues aren’t tied directly to government spending. Most polls show Texans and Floridians are fairly happy about where they live.

Our closest neighbors all spend less than we do, as well. Mississippi, our dirt poor closest neighbor, ranks 13th at around $6,400 per resident and No. 29 Arkansas spends $5,300.

Not that I could think of any reason why Louisiana and Mississippi might have spent more per capita in 2007 than in previous years, but I decided to take a look at the National Tax Foundation's website anyway. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any earlier years.

Because Louisiana ranked tenth in state spending per capita in 2007 (according to the tax foundation), Singletary seems to have made an unfounded assumption about our per capita tax rate:
We tax ourselves excessively, yet we accept sub-par services from state government.

Not according to the Tax Foundation:
Estimated at 8.4% of income, Louisiana's state/local tax burden percentage ranks 42nd highest nationally, well below the national average of 9.7%. Louisiana taxpayers pay $3,286 per capita in state and local taxes.

Of course, the figure given is for state and local taxes, while Singletary was talking about state taxes. According to the U.S. Census Bureau Louisiana ranked 36th in per capita state taxes* in 2005. Also, I was being sarcastic in the middle paragraph.

On second thought: Singletary does make one or two good points, but he misses a big point. I'll add more tonight.

* The Tax Foundation ranking is as a percentage of income, the Census Bureau ranking is according to dollar amount per capita.

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