Commentary by Ron Miller
(June 17, 2009) Southern Maryland has not missed out on the "tea parties" sweeping the country as anger rises over ever-higher taxes, the government's inability to stop spending, and the gradual loss of our liberty as government gets involved in areas never envisioned for it in our Constitution. In fact, the first tea party in Maryland took place right here in southern Maryland, Solomons to be exact. I was honored to be the master of ceremonies for the event and it was energizing to see about 540 people, many of whom had never been in a protest in their lives, expressing the sentiment "enough is enough."
This isn't just a Republican thing, either; conservatives of all persuasions are angry about federal bailouts that started under the Bush Administration and continue unabated and on an astronomical scale under President Obama. People are frustrated that a man who rightly criticized a Republican President for running up more debt than his predecessors combined is now looking to triple the national debt over 10 years.
We in Maryland have even more reason to be angry; in just shy of 30 months, Maryland has risen in several fiscal categories, none of them good. According to the Tax Foundation, Maryland now has the 4th highest state/local tax burden in America; only New Jersey, New York and Connecticut are higher. Our $5,669 per capita tax burden exceeds even that of California which is at $5,028 per capita and in the midst of a fiscal meltdown. We have the 5th highest business tax burden in the country, exceeded only by New Jersey, California, New York, Ohio, and Rhode Island. It gives me no comfort to know we're in the august company of New Jersey, which the Wall Street Journal recently cited as "the perfect bad example" and "a mini-California" when it comes to fiscal policy. Forbes Magazine ranks Maryland 40th for the cost of doing business here; this index is based on the cost of labor, energy and taxes. Surpassing us are our friends in California, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Rhode Island once again, along with Hawaii, Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire.
In fact, Maryland took the biggest plunge in its business tax climate, from 24th in 2008 to 45th in 2009. All of these numbers mean that businesses, the engine of job creation, aren't coming to Maryland and those that are here are struggling, closing or contemplating a move; few if any are hiring.
The lack of jobs is exacerbated by Maryland's cost of living which, according to data from the Council for Community and Economic Research, is the 6th highest in the nation, 5th highest if you exclude the District of Columbia. This index reflects the cost of groceries, housing, utilities, transportation, health care and other services - the things we need to live. What jurisdictions are more expensive than Maryland? Well, D.C.'s at the top of the charts, followed by California, Alaska, New York, and New Jersey, most of the usual suspects.
Want more? Development Counsellors International (DCI), a firm that advises companies on relocation issues, listed Texas, North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida and Nevada as having the most favorable business climates. Who's at the bottom? California, New York, Michigan, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. The Manhattan Institute finds that two-thirds of the total state budget deficits reside in the anti-business states, while Texas and North Carolina, with their pro-business climates, have no budget deficits. Which way do you think Maryland is headed?
Have I depressed or angered you yet? Well, I'm not done. Did you know that it costs more to live in the southern Maryland tri-county area than in Baltimore City? Calvert County is the most expensive of the three counties, followed by Charles and St. Mary's County. If it makes you feel better, it's more expensive to live in Prince George's, Anne Arundel, and Montgomery counties than in southern Maryland.
What is my intent in bombarding you with these grim statistics? To make the point that none of this happens by accident. As Maryland House of Delegates Minority Leader Tony O'Donnell is fond of saying (and I'm fond of repeating), "elections have consequences." Policies affect real lives.
If you're voting for the same people over and over again and nothing changes or it gets worse, vote in different people. The one-party monopoly in Annapolis is anti-business to its core, and it's hurting the people of our state. Businesses don't help matters by making generous campaign contributions to the very policymakers who are working them over, but that's a topic for another day. It's not the "system" - it's the people. Get mad!
Ron Miller, of Huntingtown, is a conservative blogger and activist, former and future candidate for the Maryland Senate, and communications director for the Calvert County Republican Party. Ron is a regular contributor to
ProLifeUnity.com. You can also follow Ron
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