Last week I blogged about a very interesting article in the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal by Claremont Review of Books contributing editor William Voegeli titled “The Big-Spending, High-Taxing, Lousy Services Paradigm” (Autumn 2009). It compared the tax-services models of California and Texas. VC commenters were spirited as ever and raised a number of important questions.
Although I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting William Voegeli, I took the liberty of contacting him through the Claremont Institute and asked if he might have any additional thoughts for us, particularly responding to VC commenters. Mr. Voegeli was kind enough to say yes, and has sent along the following response, below. Let me add, on behalf of the VC community, myself as well as readers and commenters, our great thanks for engaging with us. And let me add to the VC commenting community, that in the spirit of the original article, you might call Volokh Conspiracy a … Low-Taxing, High-Services blog! Mr. Voegeli:
Dear Prof. Anderson:
Thank you for bringing my City Journal article (http://www.city-journal.org/2009/19_4_california.html) on California and Texas to the attention of the Volokh conspirators, and for your generous and thoughtful analysis (http://volokh.com/2009/11/02/the-california-versus-texas-model-and-public-choice/) of the piece. Your post elicited many . . . spirited comments. It would be cumbersome to address them individually, but I can offer a few points that speak to some of the general questions your readers brought up.
My essay argues that it’s not enough to look at how much states and localities spend because how well they spend is very important. I understand several people in the comments section to be saying that this principle applies to the tax side of the equation, too. Thus, California’s problem is not so much that it is a high-tax state but, as one commenter says, that