One of the problems of Phoenix's extremely limited media market is that reporting on such news as the city's new 2 percent food tax fails to go below the surface (and, of course, many vital stories are not reported at all). Funny how the grand new world of "citizen journalists" and "crowdsourcing" has not filled the yawning chasm of serious journalism done by seasoned professionals.
The tax is one of many bad options faced by a city that is at, and perhaps past, the tipping point. It faces a $241 million deficit through June 2011. The latest cuts total $140 million and more than 1,300 jobs, including eliminating 500 police officers and firefighters. But they are not enough. Thus, the food tax. In general, it's a bad idea. Sales taxes are very regressive, taking much more of the income of lower-income individuals than, say, income and property taxes. This is no small thing in the largest city with so many low-wage jobs. They also risk causing additional "shopping flight" to the suburbs (about which, more later).
And yet the city is in a bind. Or should we say, binds.