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Letters to the Editor

Misleading figures

Jon Trushenski December 5th, 2012

Holding up California as an example of a failed state government is a mistake. Yes, there is outmigration from California, but their population density is still 241 people per square mile; Oklahoma’s is 55 So as bad as Mike Brake (Commentary, “Oklahoma’s postelection rise,” Nov. 21, Oklahoma Gazette) claims Californians have it, multitudes more are staying than are leaving. California private-sector employment has averaged over 20,000 new jobs per month since 2010; Oklahoma has managed about 3,000 per month over the same period. Californians voted to raise their own taxes this year, very likely for the same reason that MAPS was approved by the citizens of Oklahoma City three times — they were smart enough to recognize that the government needs to do some things that the private sector can’t or won’t do, especially in the area of social safety nets and quality-of-life improvements.

And your statements about the 46 percent who have no federal tax liability and the amount of taxes paid by the top 1 percent, while true, are abstractions that make good sound bites, but mean something much different once one looks into them. Everyone who works for a job where he or she gets a payroll check, or a Social Security check, has federal taxes withheld. The fact that they may end up with no tax liability is simply because they don’t have enough taxable income. These people pay all sorts of other taxes, so they aren’t freeloading on the American economy.

The top 1 percent may pay 37 percent of all federal taxes, but they have 35 percent of all the income and 43 percent of all the wealth (according to Forbes magazine). I expect that someone with an average income of $717,000 could live quite well and still pay a few percentage points more in taxes.

And as for this myth about “job creators”: People create jobs when there is a market for what those jobs produce. If the market is unhealthy — i.e., if there is no demand to satisfy — no jobs will be created. U.S. corporations are sitting on over $1 trillion in cash. They aren’t doing anything with this cash that is creating jobs, because the economy has currently achieved a sort of equilibrium of supply and demand with about 8 percent unemployment. How would giving them an extra trillion make them more likely to create jobs?

Oklahoma’s relatively favorable business climate has everything to do with natural gas exploration, the significant U.S. military presence in the state and the fact that housing is cheap because we have a low population density.

—Jon Trushenski, Oklahoma City

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