80 billionaires -- and California's broke?

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Hollywood moguls aren't going anywhere

Jerry Brown's message to educators was framed as bleak -- but as I pointed out, there were some bright spots. At least the new gov mentioned that this is a rich state that ought to be able to afford education. Robert Cruickshank at Calitics has a nice post on the point:

A tax increase of about $20 billion would secure our public services for years to come with a very tiny impact on our economic activity. Surely 1% of our GDP can be harnessed to fund the services that we must have for broadly shared prosperity in this state.

Let me take it a step further. I just went through the Forbes 400 list of the richest Americans and started counting, and guess what? A full 80 of the 400 live in California. That's one out of every five billionaires in America, living right here in a state that can't afford to educate its kids.

Then I took out my calculator and added up a long row of numbers and got a big one: The total net worth of the billionaires in California is $231.8 billion. Ten percent of that wipes out the budget deficit. And that doesn't even count the folks worth $900 million or less; they didn't make the list.

Folks: This is a very, very rich state. A very modest tax increase on a very tiny number of people could solve our budget problems not just today but into the foreseeable future.

This is the message Brown needs to deliver to the people of the state -- and if the antitax people (or my trolls) want to argue that all the rich people would leave if we taxed them just a little bit, let me say: That's ridiculous. David Geffen is going to move out of Malibu because he has to pay a teeny bit more of his income, money he won't miss, in taxes? Ain't happening.

That's it, Jerry. That's your answer. Now get to work.