David E. Bruderly of Bruderly Engineering Associates in Jacksonville in the new Florida Trend
The remaining 143 pages of advertising and articles provide the unfortunate answer: No!
The two-page sponsored report, "It's Business in West Palm Beach," says it best: "A key factor driving sector growth is the lack of a state income tax."
The low-tax, no-tax economic development policies and programs advocated by Florida's political leaders are similar to sophisticated Ponzi schemes -- they exploit Florida's clean air, water resources and ecosystems -- our natural capital -- for short-term economic gains. Our current crop of politicians seeks to create short-term economic benefits and short-term profits for a privileged few by monetizing Florida's natural capital, subsidizing selected infrastructure and distributing windfall profits to speculators and early investors. The long-term costs associated with these windfall profits are discounted and passed off to others, mostly future taxpayers and the public sector.
Accelerated population growth and destruction of natural capital is essential to the success of this short-sighted economic development model. Unfortunately, the model ignores external costs associated with the destruction of natural capital and the failure to provide the tax base needed to maintain public services for increased population.
The tragic result of this subsidized population growth and sprawl real estate development has been continuous congestion, failed schools, air pollution, water pollution and accelerated destruction of those natural ecosystems and cultural resources that make Florida an outstanding place to live and work.
In the recent past, enlightened political leaders recognized that Florida's unique natural resources were being destroyed by short-sighted economic policies. Govs. Graham, Chiles, Bush and Crist created and supported state, regional and local regulatory programs designed to protect "the commons" from exploitation by scoundrels and speculators. They rejected the concept of marketing and selling Florida to newcomers at a deep discount.
Tragically, our current political leadership has eliminated some of these regulatory programs and sought to render others ineffective.