When Good News Is Bad News

By Gus Tyler

Published February 24, 2006, issue of May 19, 2006.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Across the country, the value of homes has been on the rise. That’s the good news. As the worth of homes rises in value, so, too, do taxes. That’s the bad news. How does this all work out?

Let’s consider today’s most dramatic case — namely California, the most populous state in the union.

The value of land skyrocketed, especially the value of the land that was being put to use in profitable undertakings. The state legislators recognized the impact on homeowners, who were their constituents. But they also felt that the increased taxes on homes were serving a noble purpose: the financing of education.

But a large number of those Californians who owned homes felt that their tax burden was intolerable; they decided to do an end-run around legislature and use a popular referendum to set limits on tax increases.

The consequences were drastic limits on what was available for education. Deprived of needed income, the educational system in California has been suffering at all levels.

California is not the only state, however, that has been hit by rising taxes on real estate; Pennsylvania’s legislature was faced with an outcry. The legislature turned to legalizing slot machines and using the proceeds to finance education. But three-fourths of the state schools refused to accept the dirty money.

Horror stories abound. Charlotte Snow of Boise, Idaho, lives hand to mouth in a barn on a rundown farm. But she was not spared. The erstwhile barn, now her “home,” was taxed. “I never intended to live like this,” she told The New York Times. “But I don’t have enough to pay my property tax bill.”

It is abundantly evident that if this problem is left to the states, then — as in the past — the states will not be able to devise a tax system that would provide the funds necessary to offer citizens the educational and medical services they need.

This is not the first time that the United States has learned that to “leave it to the states” won’t work. Wisconsin enacted an unemployment insurance law. It soon discovered that employers left the state to go to nearby localities where they did not have to pay taxes to carry the program. The federal government enacted protections for the jobless .

Some states enacted insurance for medical care. In New York, Governor Nelson Rockefeller led the movement for Medicaid. In a few brief years, Medicaid became a national program.

But where is the federal government at this moment, when the states’ burden in the matter of education and health care is breaking their backs? We don’t have to guess.

Our President Bush, after giving away trillions of dollars to the wealthiest in the land, has now decided to reduce the federal debt by cutting back on the very programs that need federal aid most.






Find us on Facebook!
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • Real exodus? For Mimi Minsky, it's screaming kids and demanding hubby on way down to Miami, not matzo in the desert.
  • The real heroines of Passover prep aren't even Jewish. But the holiday couldn't happen without them.
  • Is Handel’s ‘Messiah’ an anti-Semitic screed?
  • Meet the Master of the Matzo Ball.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.