Saturday, October 20, 2012

Okay, Pay Your Own Way

If Rick Perry wants to strip the Texas welfare state bare, why should voters in Maine or Oregon care? If anything, the blue states would probably benefit from such a move. Since red states have more poor people, and since their state governments spend less money on the safety net, they receive a larger share of federal funds...Looked at this way, the red states are the moochers and the blue states are the makers.
Blue-state Germans, red-state Greeks
I first encountered this when I was still living in Illinois, and heard the statistic that Chicagoland made up 60% of the state's tax base, yet received only 15% of state spending. In spite of this, downstaters complained bitterly about their tax burden, and swore up and down that they were the ones being taxed to pay for programs that benefited deadbeat inner-city minorities and crumbling urban infrastructure. My roommates and I nearly started a petition drive for the City and suburbs to secede from the state.

This odd disconnect from reality still plays itself out on a national level. Despite the fact that many rural states seem about as densely populated as Mars, many rural people are convinced that not only do they manage to pay out-of-pocket for thousands of miles of remote roadways but that they are the only reason why the nation's metropoli can sustain themselves. Republican politicians feed into this with a steady stream of anti-tax invective that feeds into a feeling of burden and grievance that, while politically useful, isn't borne out by the facts. Meanwhile, Blue-state America, seemingly fueled by an ironclad noblesse oblige seem to be unwilling to tell the grumblers to get bent, and saddle them with what the reality of "everyone pays only their own" would really look like.

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