Inconvenient Truths Are … Inconvenient

As I mentioned back at the beginning of November, Portland blogger Jack Bogdanski banned me from commenting at his site (again) for a throwaway comment about how I didn’t think a City of Portland web page on living car-less amounted to “hectoring.”

I’ve tended to check his site less and less—not being a believer in one-way communication—but what the heck, it was Christmas Eve and I was looking for distraction from my work. I ran across a one-line comment link he made about why Oregon’s population didn’t grow as fast as Washington’s over the past decade, which linked to a Washington Examiner opinion piece by right-wing economist Michael Barone. Could it be “lack of a personal income tax?”

Barone’s article doesn’t mention Washington or Oregon although he rhapsodizes at length about “diversified,” “business-friendly,” “low-tax” Texas. Bogdanski’s takeaway from the article seems to have been this line: “Seven of the nine states that do not levy an income tax grew faster than the national average.”

Now, there are a couple of problems with this that would be evident to anyone who’s both seen anything about the Census report and been watching the business news over the past few years. First, the state that grew the most between 2000 and 2010 was Nevada (35.1%). Nevada’s one of the entries on Barone’s list of states that can teach us all a lesson about taxes. On the other hand, as of October Nevada had been leading the nation in home foreclosures (currently 1 out of every 74 homes) for nearly two years. And their preliminary seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate for November 2010 was 14.3%. Maybe rapid growth isn’t such a great thing.

Then again, how much of an edge did no sales tax supposedly net Washington state? But if you look at the chart, their rate of growth was barely higher than Oregon’s: 14.1% vs. 12%. Sure, they got another US House seat but Washington’s population was already 70% larger than Oregon’s ten years ago. Two percent extra growth seems a rather thin ledge to hang this claim from.

And what about all of the states that grew faster than Washington even though they had personal income taxes? Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. The first three on that list actually grew faster than Barone’s beloved Texas, although Arizona’s high in the rankings of per capita foreclosures along with Nevada.

And what about Texas itself? Sixth-highest poverty rate (17.3%) in the nation. A child poverty rate of 25.6% last year, seventh-highest in the US. Largest share of the population lacking health insurance. Sure, sign me up.

I put a few of those facts together in a short comment, pointing out that Barone was full of hot air. Bogdanski rejected the comment and posted back to me:

Not today.

We had a couple of email exchanges after that but there was no explanation as to why he banned the post other than my presumed reason that it made the guy he linked to look like a fool.