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The Big Red Fiscal Lie of Red States

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Message Ed Tubbs
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With only one and half years left to complete my undergrad degree, following a Southeast Michigan ice storm that proved the final straw, in May of 1972, my wife of four years and I hitched our forest green '68 VW bug to the back of a lime-green '70 Maverick and followed Horace Greeley's advice. We headed West, all the way to the Bay Area.*

As a Sunday morning was cresting a few miles off a virtually empty I-80 in Scotts Bluff, the Mav broke down. First a Nebraska highway patrolman stopped to inquire of our difficulty. He then put me in the seat next to him, and together we headed to town. He pulled a local auto shop owner from his church services, then arranged to have the Ford workhorse towed to the shop. In a matter of just a few hours, my wife and I were once again on our way.

Great folks, those flat-landers, one of whom was my wife. She was raised in Sidney, in Nebraska's pan handle. I met her on New Years Eve in Denver while I was stationed in Fort Carson, outside C-Springs, Colorado.

After being honorably discharged from the Army in June of '67, I lived in Denver a full year. During the period I was stationed in Fort Carson through my year in the Mile High City, on an average of once every three or four months, I made round-trip auto visits back to where I was raised in suburban Detroit, and where I had family. I'd begin those eastward motoring adventures around six in the evening, planned so as to hit I-80 at Julesburg, a few miles south of the Nebraska panhandle in total darkness. From there, all the way to the Mississippi, the only moments the gas pedal of my new Cougar wasn't cemented to the floorboard was when I needed to refuel. At 120 to 125 miles-plus per hour, those telephone poles along a freeway where I was the only motorist did indeed fly past like fence posts. I loved the adrenalin kick that that kind of speed provided, and I loved Nebraska and Iowa. On the return trips I made it a point to always stop for breakfast at a family diner in Ogallala. For a few bucks you ate like a king on a huge slice of ham, three or four sunnyside ups, a separate plate of genuine hash-browns and homemade biscuits with gravy; prairie food for prairie appetites!

Those are fond memories. The prairie states, topographically, are as unaesthetic as it gets. So dull is Nebraska that its primary river, the Platte, is too embarrassed to actually break the earth's surface along much of its easterly route. Though they may have lived in the heart of ugly, I had high regards for the folk who called those barren plains homes. As I said, I married one of their best.

Especially since 'W,' and the rising up of heated, cauterizing neo-conservative politics and the quest to quell governance, those initial presumptions about a basically good people have been badly tarnished, not burnished. Today, that warm patina glow is all gone.

I grew up blissfully ignorant of the depravity that was the de facto segregation of suburban Detroit. But it was while stationed at Fort Benning, on Georgia's western boundary against the Chattahoochee River, that I crossed into the truly dark heart of despicable that was Alabama, and saw drinking fountains labeled "coloreds" (Always in all-small letters!) you'd not want a slobbering bloodhound to drink from, and restaurants with "Whites Only!" signs Scotch-taped to the window panels. As wrong as de facto wrong might be, de jure is a pointy white cap altogether worse. Then, from 2002 to late- August, 2006, I lived in the Tampa Bay area; supposedly more advanced socially than elsewhere in the "segregation now/segregation forever" South. Hmm. Still a long way to go when the "Stars "n Bars" fly from front yard flagpoles and adhere to the rear windows of pickup trucks.

You know: The South; the very 'red' (as in '-necked') geography south of the Mason-Dixon that conservatives love to bellow as somehow so patriotic, so iconic American. So delusional. Especially once the facts of history are on the table as evidence too glaring to dismiss. It wasn't Northern or far-Western 'blue states' that wanted so desperately to have nothing to do with the country, I remind everyone. Nor was it the Northern or far-Western 'blue states' that fought every effort to treat all human beings humanely, to regard all human beings as equal human beings, with equal rights. Nor is it today the Northern and far-Western 'blue states' that continue to suck mosquito-like the blood of the country, which is where I want to point this lance. There are donor-states and there are the rest, those who take more than their share from the federal coffers. That the conservative American-values red states are pleased as punch to gulp down the punch that's served up by the liberal states, all the while categorizing their hosts as somehow less American is galling. Let's take a look . . . at the facts.

In descending order, the donor -- those states contributing more federal dollars than they receive -- are:
California, New Jersey, New York, Illinois, Michigan Connecticut, Texas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Colorado, Nevada, Indiana, Washington, Ohio, New Hampshire, Florida, Oregon, Delaware, North Carolina, Georgia.

Twenty-one states are 100% responsible for the very existence of 29. Of those twenty-one, fully 17 are Northern and far-Western, and blue. And of these "donor"states, ol' tax-"n'-spend liberal California contributes $489 billion MORE than it gets back, New Jersey contributes $439 billion more, New York $405 billion more, and Illinois $405 billion more!

On the other hand, the biggest of the big blood-sucking states, relative to what they kick into the national pot, are the good ol' 'Merican values states of Virginia ($375 billion ahead), Maryland ($183 billion ahead), Missouri ($175 billion ahead), Alabama ($166 billion ahead), Mississippi ($141 billion ahead), Louisiana ($122 billion ahead), and Kentucky ($106 billion ahead).

Disclosure: The above were to 2005, the most recent I could locate at either
click here or

The point here is that the "liberal" states have been taking a lot of guff from folks who love telling the rest of us how wave-the-flag proud they are of their conservative values. It's way past time for the citizens of the donor states to tell these scofflaws to just shut the hell up; keep sucking, as that's the deal that's not going to change, but please . . . shut the hell up.

And, oh yeah, about Nebraska: The corn-husker state is also a blood-sucking recipient state that gets $10.7 billion more than it sends to Washington. Go Big Red!

*At a total tuition of $45 per quarter for as many classes as I could handle (I maxed out at 21 class hours per quarter.) I finished my undergrad in March of 1974 at Cal State Hayward. Everything I have that has any value at all I owe to the blue Golden State, which is pretty much like everyone else in the US, especially the blood-suckers in the red states.

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An "Old Army Vet" and liberal, qua liberal, with a passion for open inquiry in a neverending quest for truth unpoisoned by religious superstitions. Per Voltaire: "He who can lead you to believe an absurdity can lead you to commit an atrocity."
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