While I was working on the bookkeeping last night, a bunch of more nimble bloggers jumped on Michael Hiltzik’s latest fact- and conceptually-challenged column and pointed out that the premise of his column was false; California’s population didn’t increase 30% in the last decade, it actually increased about 14%.
Not to mention Hiltzik’s decision to exclude all of the bond-financed spending and accounting sleight-of-hand that has gone into the budget over the last 4 or 5 years. Therefore California government spending clearly, obviously, and factually didn’t increase at the rate of population increase plus an inflation index, it increased faster.
Gosh, who could have known? An eight year old with access to Google, perhaps – but not the lead business columnist for the leading newspaper in the State.
In my last post on Hiltzik, I pointed out that he similarly misread a tax-rate table and misrepresented California’s relative tax burden. He argued for a split property-tax roll, and then explained that homeowners should be able to defer the resulting tax increases until sale. Um, a split roll is one which reassesses commercial (income) property on a different basis (different assessment timing, different rates, etc.) than owner-occupied residential real property.
Does Hiltzik have a clue?
Look, I’m not an antitax warrior. I believe that government has an important role to play in our society. But government has an especial obligation to deliver value for our tax dollars, and California’s government isn’t. And we voters are not going to be inclined to up the credit limit until it is.
Patterico asks readers to write to Jamie Gold, the Reader’s Rep for the Times and ask for a new column correcting the error. I’d suggest we write to her and suggest a new columnist instead.