Gladwin Hill's review of "Small Property Versus Big Government: Social Origins of the Property Tax Revolt" by Clarence Lo (Aug. 5) does nothing to reveal the actual origins of the Prop. 13 revolt. It perpetuates a myth, that in the '60s and '70s local government in California was corrupt and wasteful.
According to Hill, Lo's research consisted of the collection of examples of taxpayer wrath. There has never been any doubt about taxpayer attitudes. There was the actual causal syndrome, however, embedded in arcane economics and in local and state government taxation procedure, which Lo appears to have neglected.
The events preceding the Prop. 13 election were the result of the convergence of several unfortunate California trends and practices:
--Marked inflation beginning in the early '60s, eventually increasing local government (and other) costs by a factor of three.
--Steep inflation in real-estate values in the '60s and '70s, greater than the inflation rates affecting the economy.
--The practice, at least in L.A. County, of only reassessing real property at four- or five-year intervals.
--The great importance of the gasoline-tax subvention to city and county budgets in the early '60s.
--The failure of the legislature to increase the fuel tax in step with inflationary trends; the failure to provide a mechanism to insure that motorist and truck-user fees were equitably reassessed on a continuous basis.