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Comparing the states

Most people who track the news at all see a good deal of news about their own state, but little about others. That allows a particular sort of dishonesty to spread: Making all sorts of claims that one’s state is (depending on the agenda of the speaker) doing a whole lot better or worse than other states, in taxes, education, economy, whatever.

There are real differences among the states, of course. But many of the arguments that pick up the most currency tend to be facile and bogus. Washington state has no income tax? Wow! But before drawing too many conclusions, you have to factor in those high sales taxes (higher than Idaho’s, and obviously much higher than sales tax-less Oregon), not to mention the state’s substantial business and occupation tax. Washington isn’t horribly taxed, but looking at only one piece of the picture is highly misleading.

Oregonian columnist Steve Duin today took this on effectively, most specifically the argument that the state is unfriendly to business because of its tax structure. The argument essentially is a crock. Duin’s sharp, efficient takedown is a must-read. It may be Oregon-oriented, but the points in it are useful for Washingtonians and Idahoans as well.

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