Jon Coupal- Columnist
is an attorney and president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers
Association -- California's largest taxpayer organization with
offices in Los Angeles and Sacramento. [go to website] [go
to Coupal index]
Group Changes Name, Not Goals
Hi-tech capitalists who haven’t learned the lesson of overtaxation...
[Jon Coupal] 4/4/05
Modern plastic surgery promises to correct almost any shortcomings
we may have in our self image. Women are told they will be more
attractive with a breast augmentation, a facelift or a tummy
tuck. Men are included, too. It is implied that they will be
more likely to get a promotion or meet women if those bags under
the eyes are removed, hair is transplanted or a chin implant
is inserted to provide a stronger jawline.
In a similar
vein a powerful Silicon Valley business association with a
reputation for lobbying for higher taxes is looking to
overhaul its image. The Silicon Valley Manufacturing Group, founded
in 1978, has renamed itself the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.
According to the group's CEO, Carl Guardino, manufacturing is
no longer as important in this era of off-shoring and the new
name provides a clearer description of its function.
Perhaps the new name is a more honest approach. After all, the
group has been active in addressing issues well beyond the business
interests of its members. Affordable housing, traffic relief
and education are all high on its agenda. So, too, are tax increases,
which invariably the old Silicon Valley Manufacturing Group proposed
as a solution to each and every problem faced by the community.
It was Silicon Valley dotcom millionaires and billionaires who
funded much of the Proposition 39 campaign in 2000, which resulted
in making it much easier to increase property taxes for school
And every Legislative session these same leaders back legislation
to make it easier to raise taxes for transportation. However,
the taxes they promote, like sales tax increases, are always
ones that fall most heavily on others.
Traffic congestion in the Silicon Valley area is heavily aggravated
by the member firms of the leadership group, yet their conversation
never turns to asking those firms making major contributions
to traffic gridlock to pay more to mitigate the problem.
Ironically, many of
these high-tech leaders have proven themselves to have some
of our best and brightest minds, yet they seem unable
or unwilling to come up with solutions to societal problems that
do not involve massive infusions of cash to be supplied by others.
And they are not at all stingy when it comes to seeking tax breaks
for themselves. Not long ago, Silicon Valley leaders were advocating
a higher tax on homeowners here in California on the same day
their lobbyist in Washington was advocating for an R & D
tax credit for their industry.
Perhaps the problem lies with the fact that the expertise of
so many Silicon Valley leaders lies in the fields of electronics
and engineering, definitely not economics.
Ignorance of economics allows one to think like the majority
of members of the state Legislature. They suppose the best source
of additional government revenue comes from higher tax rates
rather than from increasing productivity in the private sector.
A rising tide raises all boats and the best way to do this to
grow the economy and to accomplish this in our high tax state,
it is necessary to hold the line on tax increases. Unfortunately,
this lesson is lost on most high-tech leaders.
For better or worse the Silicon Valley honchos no longer have
the financial clout they once had. The dotcom bubble burst has
become a synonym for financial ruin. Do these executives really
believe that increasing taxes will bail the state out of its
problems? Wasn't it the expense, including taxes, of maintaining
manufacturing in Silicon Valley that caused their firms to outsource
so many jobs overseas?
The Silicon Valley Manufacturing Group may have adopted a new
name, but like the leopard, it is unable to change its spots. CRO
is an attorney and President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers
2005 Howard Jarvis Taxpayers association