In a recent column in the Lansing State Journal and again on Michigan Radio, futurist and former Michigan Secretary of Commerce Lou Glazer says we need to ask Where do we want to go from here? What sort of economic future do we want to have? and What will policies we pursue make us into? He looks at Minnesota and Alabama as possible futures, saying:
Alabama has the lowest combined state and local taxes in the nation, ranking 50th in both taxes as percentage of personal income and taxes per capita. They have the lowest taxes – and a per capita income $3,000 less than Michigan.
Minnesota’s per capita taxes are $1,400 higher than Alabama – but its per capita income is $7,700 a year higher than Alabama. So much for the theory that low taxes leads to a strong economy!
The bottom line: You can’t get Minnesota’s economy by adopting Alabama’s policies.
Read Glazer: What’s the model – Alabama or Minnesota? in the LSJ and listen to Lou’s interview with Jack Lessenberry. You can then read Jack’s essay Michigan’s Future in which he proposes the scandalously liberal concept that high taxes make for more interesting places to live and work. There’s a comment there about thinking of “taxes” as “user fees” that makes a great point.