Scott Sumner  

Barbara Anderson, RIP

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I was saddened to learn that Barbara Anderson recently died:

Most important woman in the history of Massachusetts is a high bar. Competitors for the title might include Abigail Adams, a crucial partner and adviser to her husband John in an earlier tax rebellion; Mary Baker Eddy, who founded Christian Science; Rose Kennedy, who was the mother of a tax-cutting president and two other nationally significant politicians, and Margaret Marshall, the state judge whose decision in a gay marriage case set a national precedent.

But Anderson has a reasonable claim to the honor, in a story with resonance beyond the borders of the Bay State. By the account of the Boston Globe, Anderson's tax-cutting ballot initiatives brought Massachusetts from the sixth-heaviest taxed state to the 36th. The state once known pejoratively as Taxachusetts has become a relative regional tax haven, to the point where GE, partly for tax reasons, is moving its corporate headquarters to Boston from Fairfield, Conn. Massachusetts is no Florida or Texas or even New Hampshire, tax-wise, but it is significantly better than it once was.


When I moved here in 1982, we were considered "Taxachusetts" and the public services were lousy. I wouldn't say the public services are excellent today, but they are certainly less lousy. The top income tax rate in Massachusetts is 5.15%, right between Kansas's 4.9% and North Carolina's 5.8%. The latter two states are viewed by progressives as being ruled by radical supply-sider Republicans. Massachusetts has also legalized casino gambling and medical marijuana, and banned rent control statewide, all by referendum. We were the first state with gay marriage. The top rate of 5.15% is also a result of multiple referenda. So while my state still has lots of problems (the right to die was narrowly defeated due to shameful editorializing by the supposedly liberal Boston Globe, and there's that Trump vote), it's getting better.

Speaking of libertarian ideas, I'm glad to see that my favorite Democrat (Ron Wyden) is fighting to preserve digital privacy.


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COMMENTS (3 to date)
Jon Murphy writes:

I grew up and went to school in Massachusetts (Framingham State University, not too far from you) and even in my short time in the state there were a lot of changes, not just tax-wise. Allowing (some) supermarkets to sell wine and beer, for example. Or repealing the "Blue Laws" that kept liquor stores closed on Sundays (my father was in the liquor business so most of my knowledge centers around those laws :-) ).

I live in New Hampshire now, which is considerably more libertarian than Massachusetts in many ways, but less so in others. We still have state-run liquor stores, for example.

A little off topic, but for a humorous take on the difference between MA and NH, check out this video from Juston McKinney

Alexander Hudson writes:

As a Democrat myself, I wish more Democrats were like Ron Wyden.

Scott Sumner writes:

Jon, Yes, I remember when you couldn't buy liquor on the way to a party on Sunday, you really had to plan ahead.

Nice video.

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