Howard County Maryland Blog

Convention of States in Maryland

The Wealthiest State in the Nation

Posted by Jim Walsh on Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The U.S. Census Bureau just announced its annual income and poverty estimates for the nation.   Maryland has the distinction of having the highest median household income ($65,144) and the lowest poverty rate (7.8%) in the U.S.  Howard County had the highest median household income in Maryland ($94,260) and ranked third among all counties nationally (behind only Fairfax and Loudoun counties in Virginia).

Combine these high income – low poverty figures with the high tax rates imposed here, and I’m at a loss to see how the State and its subdivisions can be complaining about “structural deficits” and a lack of revenue.  I recall many high-tax apologists spin our tax burden by noting that our taxes, as a percentage of household income, are at about the national average.  That argument has never made any sense to me.  If government is supposed to address its citizens’ needs, should not those needs, and the level of government services, decrease as the citizens’ wealth increase?  Given our high income levels, our tax rates should be below average.  Am I missing something?

7 Responses to “The Wealthiest State in the Nation”

  1. jim adams said

    You missed commenting about the SAT scores on the same front page of the Sun paper. Should that not generate more conversion than a political comment about “structural deficits”.

    The wealthy either have the critical thinking skills, reading and math skills, or can buy those with these skills.

    For most people it is easier to make money than to hold on to it.

    As a state, if we placed more emphasis on the SAT scores, or at least on the quality of education, we just might be able to hold on to the wealth.

    Of course it is sexier to talk about money and politics, than drab educational reform.

  2. Bruce said

    One factor to consider is that the costs of government will tend to rise like all other costs in a high-income economy, thus forcing tax rates up to levels higher than one might hope. With fewer low-wage workers to exploit, you pay retail. Which is not bad. If Mississippi were such a great place to do business, all of Montgomery County’s capital would flow south, avoiding high taxes and high wage costs. But it remains firmly planted and growing.

    Government sometimes makes the economy better by reducing bad externalities and increasing good ones. Pennsylvania’s roads are garbage compared to Maryland’s, and our public universities are better as well. As for poverty, it’s not low income that is the biggest problem so much as the chaos that comes from underclass sociology. A lot of poverty is drug and jail driven in Maryland; you are more likely to be poor if your dad is gone or in jail or shot dead or on the lam or on parole so he cannot get good work. In Mississippi, you see more poor fathers tilling the earth and driving trucks.

  3. Has Ulman Taken Credit Yet? said

    It’s only a matter of time before Ulman takes the credit for this.

  4. Zinzindor said

    Well, yes, you are missing something. “Needs” are undefined, and worse, unlimited. The level of taxation, therefore, can’t correlate to a defined level of needs. Even if it could, it wouldn’t. The level of taxation rises with the ability of the political class to loot more from the public.


  5. Steve said

    In response to Bruce’s comment that Maryland public universities are better than those of Pennsylvania, I would be interested to see the data that supports that claim. With the likes of Penn State, Pitt and Temple, to name a few, I’m not sure why Bruce sees them so lacking. Frankly, I’m not even a “fan” of Pennsylvania, I just didn’t like the blanket, unfounded statement.

  6. hocoterp said

    Before I get to public universities, I have to say MD has a definite advantage over PA in roads. Baltimore City not included, I’d say MD has better primary education than PA, but I can’t substantiate that. Also can’t say how the comparison would work when you include Baltimore.

    Looking at US News & Report rankings(take them for what they’re worth), it’s pretty close when you compare Pennsylvania’s national universities Penn State University (PSU) & U of Pittsburgh (Pitt) to University of Maryland, College Park (UMD) and the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) professional schools. What follows are national rankings. Other public MD schools like UMBC, Towson, and St. Mary’s aren’t included because they are considered regional schools.

    PSU – 48
    UMD – 54
    Pitt – 59

    UMB – 36
    Pitt – 57
    PSU – 91

    Med School
    Pitt – 15
    UMB – 41
    PSU – N/A

    UMD – 16
    PSU – 21
    Pitt – 50

    UMD – 25
    PSU – 34
    Pitt – N/A

  7. Freemarket said

    According to US News, the top 20 undergrad schools in the nation are all private. The top school in Pennsylvania is University of Pennsylvania (#5) and the top Maryland school is Johns Hopkins (#14).

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