"Art is a lie that tells the truth" -- Pablo Picasso
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Red vs. Blue
As the old battles of the Civil War continue to play themselves out in our politics, it turns out that, once again, the big winners in any secession of the Red states would be the Blue states.
The Red states tend to be poorer, more isolated, and more dependent on Federal tax revenues from the Blue states.
Look at the numbers. New Jersey got back just 61 cents for every dollar it paid in federal taxes. Connecticut: 69 cents. Illinois: 75 cents. New York: 79 cents. Massachusetts: 82 cents. In other words, being a member of the union is costing these states billions in lost money.
Meanwhile Mississippi gets back $2 in federal spending for every dollar it pays in federal taxes. Alaska: $1.84. Louisiana: $1.78. North Dakota gets $1.68, Alabama $1.66, Tennessee $1.27, Idaho $1.21 and Arizona $1.19.
Red staters always like to accuse blue states of high taxes. But if they are right, one of the principal reasons blue staters are paying higher taxes is to subsidize . . . red staters.
Blue America paid these extra taxes because, on the whole, they have higher incomes, so they pay higher federal income taxes. (Note: The Tax Foundation analysis normalized the budget to assume no deficit, assuming, reasonably, that the future taxes to pay for the deficits would come from same people paying the current taxes.)
If you compare the states that went for John Kerry in 2004 with the states that voted for George Bush, a clear pattern emerges. Based on Tax Foundation numbers, Blue America paid somewhere in the vicinity of $800 per person in extra taxes to support Red America. No kidding: $800 for every man, woman and child.
That's quite a tax cut: $3,200 for every family of four.
Michael, and a lot of other people I know, would love to let the states of the Old Confederacy and their allies secede again, and leave them to their destinies. We are just too different, they argue.
I think Mr. Lincoln was right all along. We are all stuck with each other in this common investment called The United States whether we like each other or not. If the USA was to break apart again, it would not be into 2 countries, but probably into 4 or 5. Breakup would be the end of the USA, and leave all its former member states poorer, and much more vulnerable in international markets and in the inevitable struggle among nations for domination and survival.
Everyone knows this, and that's why I have a hard time taking secession talk very seriously. Most of these movements are far-right racist movements that want to carve out some American version of a whites-only Orange Free State. A few are far-left movements that want to saw off the chains binding them and their ambitions to the Red states.
We all know who eventually won the long argument personified by John C. Calhoun and Daniel Webster over whether Americans are citizens of their states first, or of the larger country first. That argument was settled in the Civil War and the 14th Amendment. Those who want to reopen that argument will always remain a fringe. The rest of us, right and left, have too much to lose.
I am originally from Texas, a part of the old Confederacy. However, my family was always sympathetic to Sam Houston and his views on secession (which proved to be prophetic). We always kept a picture of Lincoln in the house.