OPINION: A proposal for a ‘stimulus tax’ for our state

By Paul Garver

Resident, La Jolla

Candidate, 75th Assembly District

“Don’t tax me, don’t tax thee, tax that man behind the tree.” Sen. Russell Long’s famous saying epitomizes everyone’s yearning to shift the tax burden onto someone else.

If only such a tax existed!

It turns out, such a tax does exist. It’s a tax on oil pumped from our ground. Every major oil-producing state - except California - imposes this tax. It’s why Alaska pays an annual dividend to each of its residents. It’s why Texans don’t pay income taxes. It’s why Russell Long’s Louisiana and every other major oil-producing state can keep their other taxes low.

In case you’re wondering, we’re not talking chump change. California is the third-largest oil producer in the U.S. If we adopted Alaska’s tax rate, we would raise nearly $5 billion every year. Why are we passing up on billions everyone else is taking?

Big Oil and the politicians who protect their interests claim this tax would raise the cost of gasoline. The truth is, oil is priced by the world market. If oil companies tried to pass on the tax by charging more for California oil, refiners would buy their oil at the world market price from Alaska or Texas instead. The bottom line is that refiners’ costs won’t go up, so the price of gasoline won’t, either.

They also claim it would cost California jobs. The truth is, overall employment would vastly increase. The reason is that most oil companies are not based in California, so this tax would bring in billions of new dollars into California each year, stimulating our economy and creating tens of thousands of new jobs.

In my profession of medicine, we have guidelines we’re supposed to follow called standard practices. Similarly, there are standard practices in business and economics. Californians need to demand that our state adopt the standard of economic practice used for oil production everywhere else in the world.

This is as close as one can get to Russell Long’s ideal tax. You won’t be paying it, I won’t be paying it, the oil company hiding behind their tree of lies will. The only reason to be against this tax is you own an oil company - or you’re a politician owned by an oil company. Let’s stop being taken for suckers. This November, let’s vote in new legislators who will represent us, not Big Oil.