| February 6, 2013

Voting with their feet

Poor Phil Mickelson. The famous golfer was subjected to a politically correct firestorm from the big-government left when he dared to question his home state of California’s new 13.3 percent top personal income tax rate. With President Obama’s newly enacted top federal rate of 39.6 percent, and various other sales, property and miscellaneous taxes, Mickelson said he found himself facing an effective combined tax rate in the neighborhood of 63 percent. Perhaps, he suggested, it was time to move.

That certainly got Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s attention. “Texas is the home to liberty and low taxes,” Gov. Perry told Mickelson. “We’d love to have you as well.”

Texas already has Torii Hunter, one of baseball’s best players, who abandoned high-tax California some years ago. Florida, another no-income-tax state, has Tiger Woods for the same reason. Lots of less-high-profile high earners — business owners, entrepreneurs, professionals, etc. — are no doubt looking at California’s amazingly high tax rates and feeling like the plump hog at a bacon factory.

The simple truth is that wealth and productivity flee punitive tax and regulatory environments for those that recognize the value of success. That’s one reason the Texas Workforce Commission could issue a press release a couple of years ago that proudly stated “Texas Has Largest 10-Year Growth in Private Sector Jobs Among All States.” In 2010 alone — remember, that was in the middle of a recession — Texas added 724,300 new jobs.

It’s also why the New York Post reported last week (“’Wall Street’ flees New York for tax-free Florida on out-migration from New York to no-income-tax Florida.

Few Californians make the money Phil Mickelson or Torii Hunter do, but every resident of that state was hit by its most recent round of tax increases. The state sales tax jumped to 7.5 percent. Californians are taxed, regulated, and scrutinized by their state government at levels approaching those of European countries like Sweden.

The results? “Since 1990, the state has lost nearly 3.4 million residents through this (out-)migration,” said The Manhattan Institute. They’re going to lower-tax states like Texas, Nevada, and Arizona and they are going there in droves.

Mr. Mickelson may be a harbinger of things to come. Wouldn’t it be great if Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin could go door-to-door in tax-plagued California inviting business owners, investors, workers, and even champion golfers to come on down to no-tax Oklahoma?

Then, a literary heir to John Steinbeck could write about the dust-bowl migration in reverse. Call it “The Taxes of Wrath,” maybe?

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