Tax flight

So, a while back, in reference to Phil Mickelson’s whine about being over-taxed in California, I wrote:

If I made $47 million a years I would simply live where I wanted to live, damn it.  If I loved the Pacific ocean, Los Angeles, and Hollywood, I’d live in California even it it costs me $10 million more a year.  Do you really feel it when you make that much?  Or, if I loved Disney and the Atlantic and hanging with Lebron, I’d move to Florida.  As most residents of the Triangle know, location really does matter for quality of life.  If money is no object (which it shouldn’t be for a multi-millionaire) why in the world wouldn’t you just live in the place with the best (subjective) quality of life?!  Presumably, to this point Mickelson has decided that this place is California.  For a man in his financial position, it literally makes no sense to move somewhere else over 3% of his income.

Well, then, how nice to see a piece in the Times emphasizing that no, most rich people are not as greedy and short-sighted as Phil Mickelson suggests he is:

It turns out that a large majority of people move for far more compelling reasons, like jobs, the cost of housing, family ties or a warmer climate. At least three recent academic studies have demonstrated that the number of people who move for tax reasons is negligible, even among the wealthy.

Cristobal Young, an assistant professor of sociology at Stanford, studied the effects of recent tax increases in New Jersey and California.

“It’s very clear that, over all, modest changes in top tax rates do not affect millionaire migration,” he told me this week. “Neither tax increases nor tax cuts on the rich have affected their migration rates.”

The notion of tax flight “is almost entirely bogus — it’s a myth,” said Jon Shure, director of state fiscal studies at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonprofit research group in Washington. “The anecdotal coverage makes it seem like people are leaving in droves because of high taxes. They’re not. There are a lot of low-tax states, and you don’t see millionaires flocking there.”

Not that this never happens, but certainly not enough that it should be a major public policy concern.  And I’ll reiterate that some super-rich person who’s going to choose his/her residence over an amount of money they won’t even feel instead of all the other far superior reasons, just shows you don’t have to be smart to be rich.

Photo of the day

Great collection of phenomenal astronomical photos at Behold.  Definitely check them all out

Northern View of Saturn and the Darker Side of the Rings, Cassini, May 9, 2007, 2012. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Michael Benson/Kinetikon Pictures. (c) All Rights Reserved.

Northern View of Saturn and the Darker Side of the Rings, Cassini, May 9, 2007, 2012.

Courtesy of Michael Benson / Hasted Kraeutler gallery, NYC. NASA/JPL-Caltech/Michael Benson/Kinetikon Pictures. (c) All Rights Reserved.

Over-reaction

Stuff like this drives me crazy.  Sure, we should all be vigilant to do whatever we can (within reason!!) to prevent violence in schools, but what kills me is that adults some how think the following is a reasonable approach to preventing violence in schools.  From the Post:

The gun came from a dollar store. It was a cheap plastic fake with a bright orange tip that Nakicha Gilbert’s 10-year-old son bought during a visit to a cousin’s house.

“It was a toy,” Gilbert said. “A toy.”

Her son had it in his backpack when he went to Alexandria’s Douglas MacArthur Elementary School on Feb. 4, and he took it out on a bus ride home, placing it in his front pants pocket. He showed one boy, who immediately recognized it was not real, according to his mother.

It is unclear how many other children noticed or talked about the toy gun, but one girl told her mother that the episode frightened her. The girl’s mother called the school immediately and e-mailed school officials that she was uncomfortable sending her children to school until she could be certain the 10-year-old was not armed.

Gilbert said she was told that the principal, that day, examined a video of the bus ride home and saw nothing alarming. But the next morning, the boy’s backpack was searched, the toy gun was found and school officials called police. The 10-year-old was taken into custody. [emphasis mine]  He was not handcuffed, police said.

Oh, that makes me feel so much better that they didn’t bother with handcuffs on the 10-year old who was carrying– in a completely non-threatening way– an obviously toy gun.  Apparently, fingers are quite the danger as well.  In a separate article:

An 8-year-old boy in Prince William County pointed his finger like a gun in a school hallway after a friend pretended to shoot him with a bow and arrow. The class had been studying Native American culture and had just learned a deer-hunting song.

“It was playing — it was cowboys and Indians,” said the second-grader’s father.

The imaginary crossfire on Feb. 8 produced real-life fallout two months after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. The boy was suspended for “threatening to harm self or others,” a misdeed on par with bringing an actual weapon to school. He served an in-school suspension Wednesday.

Hooray!!  At least he wasn’t arrested.  You know, if there was some evidence crazed, non-sensical over-reactions actually cut down on school violence, I’d be all for it.  But of course there’s not.  It’s not like we found ourselves wishing, “if only someone had arrested Dylan Klebold for bringing a cap gun to school.”

Liberalism amok

Of course, one of my major themes here is that there’s not an easy asymmetry and things really are worse and more extreme than on the right, than on the left.  That said, I figure it’s useful to point out every now and then where the extreme left goes too far.  A great example is what would have to be considered knee-jerk opposition to any genetically modified foods by Greenpeace and other far left groups.  In general, I certainly think Greenpeace’s heart is in the right place, and they surely do a lot of good, but stuff like this is why my environmental dollars go elsewhere.  Anyway, Bjorn Lomberg in Slate:

Finally, after a 12-year delay caused by opponents of genetically modified foods, so-called “golden rice” with vitamin A will be grown in the Philippines. Over those 12 years, about 8 million children worldwide died from vitamin A deficiency. Are anti-GM advocates not partly responsible?

Golden rice is the most prominent example in the global controversy over GM foods, which pits a technology with some risks but incredible potential against the resistance of feel-good campaigning. Three billion people depend on rice as their staple food, with 10 percent at risk for vitamin A deficiency, which, according to the World Health Organization, causes 250,000 to 500,000 children to go blind each year. Of these, half die within a year. A study from the British medical journal the Lancet estimates that, in total, vitamin A deficiency kills 668,000 children under the age of 5 each year.

Yet, despite the cost in human lives, anti-GM campaigners—from Greenpeace to Naomi Klein—have derided efforts to use golden rice to avoid vitamin A deficiency. In India, Vandana Shiva, an environmental activist and adviser to the government, called golden rice “a hoax” that is “creating hunger and malnutrition, not solving it.”…

Regulation of goods and services for public health clearly is a good idea; but it must always be balanced against potential costs—in this case, the cost of not providing more vitamin A to 8 million children during the past 12 years…

Of course, no technology is without flaws, so regulatory oversight is useful. But it is worth maintaining some perspective. In 2010, the European Commission, after considering 25 years of GMO research, concluded that “there is, as of today, no scientific evidence associating GMOs with higher risks for the environment or for food and feed safety than conventional plants and organisms.”

Now, finally, golden rice will come to the Philippines; after that, it is expected in Bangladesh and Indonesia. But, for 8 million kids, the wait was too long.

Obviously we need to be careful and have necessary regulations, but we certainly shouldn’t oppose things just because they are genetically modified, which seems to be basically what it comes down to for Greenpeace and others, regardless of what they actually claim in their post-hoc rationalizations.  The cost/benefit on this one seems quite clear.

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