Greener grass?


As I wrote yesterday, I'm quite a fan of California (OK, I'll be honest this time – the weather and the beaches do have something to do with it...). All things being equal, I'd rather like to live there. And who knows? Given the way things are going in the UK at the moment, maybe I'll want to join the next 'brain drain' and flee gloomy Britain for the land of the free.

The only trouble is I'm not sure the land of the free is really that free anymore. Take California as an example – assuming I earned the same in relation to the average wage as I do in the UK, I'd end up handing over 30 percent of my income to the government if I lived there (adding up federal and state income taxes, and various payroll taxes). In the UK, it's closer to 25 percent. True, sales and excise taxes are much lower in the US, but property taxes are also much higher. It's hard to see me being much better off.

There are a couple of qualifications I should make. Firstly, California is clearly not the best example to choose, being one of the most left-leaning states in the Union. One could move to Iowa and not pay state income tax at all. Secondly, something like 50 percent of Americans don't pay income tax at all, thanks to their crafty use of credits and exemptions, so it's not that bad for everyone. Of course, single men are not typically the recipients of much legislative largesse, so I doubt there would be much in the complexities of the tax code for me.

Anyway, the main point is, where are we libertarians meant to escape to these days? Are we all going to have to go seasteading?