The problem is that some people have too much.
That’s the view of those in Sacramento who think they know best how to redistribute everybody’s property. They also think they know best how to assign burdens to be carried by people who bear no responsibility for them, but unluckily are located in a place that has been chosen to host the “solution.”
The principle is the same. Whether you’re a wealthy investor or you’re the owner of a property in an area designated by the government to become the next Skid Row, the plan is to take away some of your wealth because you have too much and somebody else is in need.
For example, the California Federation of Teachers is sponsoring a “Tax on Extreme Wealth.” This newly introduced legislative package would add a 1% tax on wealth in excess of $50 million per household in California, with an additional 0.5% on wealth in excess of a billion dollars. The teachers union thinks this will raise approximately $22 billion a year to “fund our recovery.”
Never mind that hundreds of billions of your federal tax dollars are about to fly into California to “fund our recovery.” That money doesn’t do anything to hurt billionaires, who apparently are to blame for all the state’s problems.
For the record, billionaires don’t compel anyone to do business with them, unlike public employee unions.
The problem with the plan to take money from billionaires is that the wealthiest Californians already pay a top marginal state income tax rate of 13.3%, the highest in the nation. The top 0.5% of income earners in California pay 40% of the state’s tax revenues, according to the Franchise Tax Board.
If those taxpayers decide that they can tolerate the humidity in Florida or the music in Texas, the California state treasury will cave in like a meteor crater.
Maybe we could sell tickets to see it and make up some of the lost revenue with tourism.
As if the income tax wasn’t high enough, the teachers union now wants a new tax on wealth. This would require complex reporting on the value of assets of all types.
But worse than the complexity is the premise. This is the belief that it’s the government’s job to go around and decide who has more than they need and who needs more than they have, and then to use the force of law to take it and give it away.
“Billionaires in our state alone have increased their wealth by over half a trillion dollars,” complained the California Federation of Teachers in a news release.
Yet even their own proposal begins the process of defining billionaires down. The tax increase starts at assets of $50 million. It would only go down from there.
The premise that people who “have” must give it up to people who “have not” is also on display in the controversy over the locations of new facilities for homeless individuals.
The state government slipped a provision into a budget trailer bill to prevent local governments from requiring the usual approval process for a change of land use when COVID-19 relief grants are used to convert a property to homeless housing. Minimal if any notice is given, and the usual process for local approval of a change of land use is not required.
So people who bought townhouses in Reseda across the street from a municipal building’s parking lot will soon be living across the street from a “cabin community” where the current residents of tent encampments will be relocated. Homeowners in West Hills may soon find a homeless shelter going up in the residential area next to West Hills Hospital. Residents of Arleta just found out that a site at 9120 N. Woodman Avenue has been chosen to become a homeless shelter.
The owners of neighboring properties are certain to see a decline in the equity they have built up in their property, but the government considers these property owners “the haves.”
That’s what happens when the government decides that wealth belongs to everybody. Pretty soon, the government declares that everybody’s wealthy.
Susan Shelley is an editorial writer and columnist for the Southern California News Group. [email protected] Twitter: @Susan_Shelley
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