Posts Tagged ‘Basketball’
July 8th, 2010 at 3:35 pm
LeBron James and the Tiebout Hypothesis
Posted by Print

The first step to recovery is admitting that you have a problem. Here it goes: my name is Troy and I geek out at the intersection of sports and economics.

Today’s example — catnip for conservatives — comes from NBA superstar LeBron James’s much-anticipated announcement of where he’ll be playing next season now that he’s a free agent.

Apart from the option of staying in Cleveland (which won’t be habitable until the folks at Reason are through with it), Lebron’s two most prominent options look to be the New York Knicks or the Miami Heat. But even if both teams offer him identical contracts, his take-home pay will look dramatically different. As a New York Post blog posting notes:

If LeBron James goes to the Miami Heat instead of the Knicks, blame our dysfunctional lawmakers in Albany, who have saddled top-earning New Yorkers with the highest state and city income taxes in the nation, soon to be 12.85 percent on top of the IRS bite. There is no state income tax in Florida.

Total state taxes on a 5-year, $96 million contract? $12.34 million in New York; $0 in Florida.

If LeBron ends up in Miami (and the influence of joining Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in the Heat’s starting lineup shouldn’t be underemphasized), this blogger may be one of the only sports fans in America who traces the development to a rather obscure, short-lived economist from the Eisenhower era.

Charles Tiebout’s greatest contributions to economics was the “Tiebout Hypothesis” — which in essence stated that federalism matters because citizens vote with their feet. If a state wants productive people (and make no mistake, LeBron is an economic dynamo), they create the conditions that will bring them there. Thus, Florida has a recipe for fostering entrepreneurship, while New York has a recipe for disaster.

Of course, there are mitigating factors. Kobe Bryant stays in Los Angeles despite California’s confiscatory tax rates because of the prestige of playing with a successful legacy franchise like the Lakers. But for those of us with a more conventional cut to our jibs, the calculation is simpler.

If you have a business you can run from anywhere, would you rather do it at New York’ s 12.85% rate or for free in one of the nine states that don’t have income taxes (Alaska, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming — just in case you’re looking to flee blue state insanity).

By the way, take a look at the business climates in these states and you’ll notice which model works and which model doesn’t.