Tuesday, March 31, 2009


So I'm supposed to be impressed because Rush Limbaugh is proclaiming that he'll no longer work in New York now that state taxes are being raised on rich people? I'm supposed to believe this proves a point about how rich people flee when taxes go up?

Here's my question: Why has Limbaugh continued to do some shows out of a New York studio all this time? New York didn't just suddenly go from being a low-tax state to being a high-tax state. Why did he ever work here in the first place? Why didn't the taxes motivate him to shut down his New York operation the second he found out what they are? Why has he kept his New York condo? Doesn't that disprove his economic theory?

Here's an except from what he said on the radio:

.. I'm telling you, these [rich] people have been paying a lot of tax freight. There is no way Governor Paterson's going to raise $4 billion a year on this. Because, folks, it's axiomatic: when you raise taxes on an activity, you reduce that activity. People start doing that activity less. In this case: working.

... I'm leaving. I'm leaving. I am seriously....

When I am there working I pay whatever, you know, my rate is based on income for that day in New York. And I try to go as little as possible. If it weren't for hurricanes down here [in Florida], I would never go up there. New York is the escape valve in case hurricanes are showing up in our area, because of the loss of electricity. So I'll tell you what I'm going to do. I'm going to look for an alternative studio somewhere outside New York, perhaps Texas -- another no-income-tax state -- and I'm going to get the hell over there, when a hurricane starts coming our way, 'cause I told Mayor Bloomberg: I'll be the first to lead the way. You know, this is just... I'll sell my apartment. I'll sell my condominium. I'm going to get out of there totally, 'cause this is just absurd, and it's ridiculous -- and it isn't going to work....

Two points, Limbaugh:

(1) You haven't heard that they have hurricanes in Texas, too?

(2) You just now noticed that New York has a state income tax and Texas doesn't?

See, point (2) is all the proof I need that you're wrong -- because if taxes were the sole determinant of economic activity, you wouldn't have done any work in New York all this time. You could have set up multiple studios anywhere. So why didn't you? Maybe because it's harder in, say, Texas to get the Wagyu beef you crave? Maybe you actually like being surrounded by Eastern Establishment swells?

I noted a couple of weeks ago that studies show rich people don't move in response to tax increases, at least not in numbers that neutralize the effect of those increases. Here's the article I cited. I guess Limbaugh won't be reading it on the air anytime soon.

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