Blue State Payback Time

By Montecito Journal   |   December 7, 2017

Bob Hazard‘s debunking of tax reform Myth #3 (Guest Editorial, MJ #23/48) was revelatory, but not debunking. His Myth #3 is “Removing the Federal Deduction for State and Local Taxes is Unfair to High-Tax States such as California, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Illinois.”

Unfortunately, Mr. Hazard did not address a fundamental issue of fairness. Everyone understands that income equals revenue minus the cost of revenue. For many Americans, state income tax is a required cost of their income. The new tax policy will have many Americans pay federal income taxes on money that is not really part of their income. 

Mr. Hazard seemed to revel in the idea of “finally punishing” big-tax states. He repeated the often-expressed claim that these states have “gleefully passed their high-tax burden onto other low-tax states’ taxpayers via their deductions of state and local taxes…”. What Mr. Hazard has in common with everyone else making this claim is that he doesn’t back it up with evidence.

I did a quick look at the 2015 Federal Tax Revenue by State table on Wikipedia. I compared the five high-tax states listed by Mr. Hazard against the seven no-income-tax states (Texas, Florida, Washington, Nevada, Wyoming, Alaska, and South Dakota). The IRS collects more from the five high-tax states on a per capita basis (31% more) and in total (87% more) than the seven no-tax states. Exactly the opposite of Mr. Hazard’s claim.

It’s hard not to label Mr. Hazard’s unsubstantiated claim as fake news. I suspect the reason this fake news is hyped all over the media to provide a fig leaf of cover for more conscientious conservatives who support tax reform, but who feel 1) queasy about implementing a scheme to increase revenue by taxing so many Americans on income that is not really income, instead of reducing spending; 2) queasy about the federal government taking a “we-know-best” attitude by judging and punishing the tax-and-spend policies of individual states; and 3) queasy that, in the absence of sound justification, this policy looks like payback against big blue states that didn’t vote for the president.

Dave Willett

(Editor’s note: Don’t know about the idea of “payback,” but if doing away with the tax exemption for state taxes works to reduce the overall tax burden in those states, it sounds like a good idea to me. As for Wikipedia, I’d be wary of using anything one found on Wikipedia as an “authoritative” reference. – J.B.)

Magic Castle Cabaret

Santa Barbara is very proud of its Spanish heritage. Although we bought Cafe del Sol, an old Mexican restaurant, I wanted to create the atmosphere of a European cabaret. I found the answer in the history of Spain. Spain is credited with the beginning of modern magic. The Spanish inquisitions led to the confusion of Spanish royalty and many charlatans seized on the situation to claim titles. This is where fact spawns fiction. I love stories. 

After the inquisitions in the Middle Ages, magicians used their magic skills to replace witchcraft and black magic. It was an age of phony royalty. Apparently, at the end of the 19th century there was a Spanish magician who claimed to be a count. His wife, the countess de Lota, loved magic and had a summer palace overlooking a lake in northern Spain. She was famous for entertaining Europe’s finest magicians. 

Our Magic Castle Cabaret will recreate what we imagine what her “Casa del Oro” house of gold might have looked like a few centuries ago. 

The New Year, 2018, is just around the corner. We will see you at the Magic Castle Cabaret. 

Milt and Arlene Larsen
Santa Barbara

(Editor’s note: Readers should be aware that the Magic Castle Cabaret on the site of the former Cafe del Sol in Baja Montecito will operate, perhaps as early as February 2018, as a “private club” and will not be open to the general public. It will, however, be open well into the night, which is particularly good news for Montecito nightbirds looking for a place to hang out when everything else is closed. I am personally thrilled to call myself a charter member of Milt and Arlene Larsen’s Magic Castle Cabaret. – J.B.)

A Refreshing Oliver’s

A few Friday evenings ago, I was sauntering about the newly invigorated Coast Village hub and had the pleasure to take a break at Oliver’s, the newest restaurant in the ‘hood.

I found the decor, which included a nice French racing blue Bugatti at the gate highly approvable. The bar was abuzz and so crowded that I couldn’t belly up and order an Arnold Palmer, but no worries there, because one of my favorite movies, On Any Sunday, was playing on the bar’s big screen. 

Mr. (Craig) McCaw clearly had some bright minds help him with the libatious end of the eatery, and I wasn’t hungry at the time, so I will check in on the munchables in the future.

I can only hope that Formula 1 racing becomes a feature during race season, as I used to join a group of friends every Sunday after Cars & Coffee for some food and drink, and since our host has moved out of the area, I’ve been searching for a worthy viewing venue. This could be the one.

I’ll be back!

Michael Edwards

(Editor’s note: I’ve been there a couple times so far and agree that the bar and outdoor patio have brought an absolutely refreshing presence to Coast Village Road. – J.B.)

Admirable Ashley

I feel so fortunate having just discovered your excellent wordsmith Ashleigh Brilliant. Thank you for providing such excellent content and such a fine writer. We, and I’m sure all who read your paper, look forward to his column. Thank you.

Jonathan Weiss

We Left out Kathryne

I am the manager at Kathryne Designs on Coast Village Road and was reading the article about the businesses on Coast Village Road written by Bob Hazard (Guest Editorial, MJ #23/47). We were happy to see the article, as we all are trying to bring awareness of the street to one and all. But in reading the article it was a surprise that of all the businesses mentioned, Kathryne Designs was not. As one of the oldest businesses on the street (we have been on Coast Village Road for 14 years), it would have been nice to have been mentioned. As all of the other home décor shops were.

Kathryne was disappointed by the omission of her store. She has worked hard to be a presence on the street. It was a shame that she didn’t get any acknowledgment in the article, and it would be nice if she could. 

Thank you so much. 

Jordana Lawrence

(Editor’s note: Ouch. This always happens no matter how hard we try to include everybody, especially those who are and have been important to us and to Montecito; somebody gets left out who should have been included. We apologize for the slip and promise to make up for it in as many ways as we can. Kathryne Designs is one of our favorites! – J.B.)

Breaking the Climate Deadlock

I am a retired physicist and engineer who appreciated Ray Winn‘s common-sense, scientific discussion on the “global warming” controversy in your recent issues (Ray’s Ramblings). Here are my thoughts, sent to governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr.:

“CO2 is not the problem; we are.

“We do not know what effect the seven billion people and their 20 billion domesticated animals are having on the earth. We cannot run a controlled experiment to prove anything. The so called “warming” can be the result of the last ice age going full around. Have we not seen this phenomenon before in the past ice ages – a long warm spell after the big melt?

“If we assume that humans are the cause then we must reduce the population, but how? You do not include population control in any of your promotions and neither does the Paris Accord.

“The ‘first world’ population is decreasing on its own – women are too busy to have kids in Europe and the U.S. But the “third worlds” – everywhere else – are going crazy with growth.

“Without dealing with this issue, your carbon taxes are useless.

“In the end, we are going to use up all of our legacy/heritage fossil fuels unless we stop using them. Our only choice then will be nuclear, wind, and solar. But all these take energy to construct. The biggest bang for the buck comes from nuclear. New nuclear systems are powerful and efficient. But small solar/wind power systems can be provided for most home use now without a main power source. The big important development is efficient affordable battery storage units such as Tesla is offering. 

“Still, world population must be contained.

“And our ‘big power’ needs can only be met with nuclear.

“We must stop the use of plastics for anything. They are not bio-degradable and they float on water and do not sink, so plastic of all kinds must be replaced by glass and paper and wood: all renewables.”

Justin M. Ruhge

(Editor’s note: It is curious that so many “climate change” warriors fail to suggest that population control would go further than virtually anything else to help contain the ongoing degradation of our planet. Thank you for your input. – J.B.)


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