Every year Forbes Magazine ranks the 150 largest Metropolitan areas in the U.S. according to what the editors refer to as the “Forbes Misery Measure.” Criteria used to rank the cities are commute times, corruption, pro sports teams, Superfund sites, taxes (both income and sales), unemployment, violent crime and weather.
This year St. Louis was the only city to consistently score in the bottom half opf all nine categories in order to earn its ranking as the 10th most miserable city in the U.S. I personally wouldn’t lose any sleep over criteria like pro sports teams (although I acknowledge that there are probably those out there to whom sports teams are important), but the fact that sales taxes are included in the criteria struck me as telling.
Missouri Republican legislators (and, to be fair, some Democrats) spend lots of time braying about how they create a welcoming environment for business by keeping taxes low — while the state, cities and municipalities try desperatly to raise the revenue necessary to function by levying sales taxes or by other regressive taxation. Well, the Forbes misery index is a good indication that it just doesn’t work. In the end all you get are scandalously high sales taxes penalizing those who can least afford to pay and insufficient funds to deal with high crime, unemployment, superfund sites and every other ill that plagues the modern city.