Thursday, October 20, 2011

California: Where Tax Breaks Are Okay If They Allow the State to Play Favorites

Insofar as Sacramento is run by a Governor and a Legislature incapable of imagining an economic recovery not centered around green energy and massive public works projects, it shouldn't really surprise anyone that the only Californians who stand to see breaks on their taxes are the Democratic party's political favorites. Yet sometimes it takes stories like the following to remind us that California is less a socialist People's Republic and more a fascist command economy.

First up, those of us following the Solyndra bankruptcy scandal might remember that President Obama wasn't the first politician to throw public dollars at the Fremont solar firm: that would be former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who extended $34.5 million in tax breaks to the company last November. After Solyndra collapsed, the public became aware of an obscure state board called the Alternative Energy and Advanced Transportation Funding Authority, by which California offers tax incentives to promote green technologies. By the admission of Treasurer Bill Lockyer, the board makes no effort to judge the viability of the companies that receive these incentives, so basically all you need are good lobbyists. You may remember that Lockyer called for a moratorium on the tax breaks in the wake of Solyndra's bankruptcy, in order to explore changes to the program. Unfortunately, that was a month ago, and now Lockyer has gone back to supporting it. So, never mind that the taxpayer dollars awarded to green-tech firms have been largely wasted, or that it's never been clear that these firms can exist in a truly competitive market: Sacramento is bound and determined to play favorites with our money, and it doesn't look like that's going to change.

Of course, for a glimpse into the worst sides of California politics, few places reward curiosity better than San Francisco. You might remember the city's plan, first announced in July, to declare ex-convicts a protected class on par with racial minorities and LGBT residents. The idea was to prevent discrimination by landlords and employers, with Jerry Brown's realignment plan creating an expected influx of low-level felons to the city. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the Board of Supervisors is now preparing to go even further, with plans to offer tax incentives to city businesses who hire felons. The plan is still a work in progress, but the tentative goal is to save a firm $10,000 against their payroll tax obligations for every felon they hire into full-time employment. We know what you're thinking: "Wait a minute, why should it be easier for a convicted felon to find a job than someone who's worked hard and obeyed the law their whole lives?" To which we'd reply: welcome to politics in San Francisco.


  1. AnonymousOct 21, 2011 06:58 AM
    circle jerking as usual in Sacramento politics

    -tax breaks are not subsidies
    -through their own actions they are admitting that taxes are bad on the economy and employment. Instead of logically reducing/eliminating taxes for everyone they keep their lobby sheep in line.
    -some of the convicts were convicted of non-crimes like personal drug use, phony abuse/sexual assault, tax evasion, prostitution/pimping, drug dealing, etc etc etc...
    -society has forgotten the innocent victims that are in our prisons as a result of the State's own predations and brutalization on the rest of us and their phony "crimes" that they write into law to make armed thugs put us in cages.