Just back after a long weekend listening to folk music.
Nice to see Marc's full-throated defense of Alabama, but he misses the point. Whether or not there was a spike in food stamps there due to the disaster, there is a fundamental disconnect in many places, including Alabama, with regard to what people say they want in the abstract and what they really want--and get in real life.
The Tax Policy Center has what is now a somewhat outdated list of states that receive more in federal funds than they pay in federal taxes. It is stunning that this data isn't more current, but the latest numbers I've seen are from 2005. Still, I can't believe the pattern has changed much. Here are the top ten "getter" states. . .those that receive more in federal funding than they pay in. The number next to each is how many dollars they get back for each dollar they contribute.
1. NM $2.05
2. MS $2.02
3. Alaska $1.84
4. LA 1.78
5. WV 1.76
6. ND 1.68
7. AL 1.66
8. SD 1.53
9. KY 1.51
10. VA 1.51
There are a few exceptions, but can you spot a pretty well defined political trend within these states? Anyone? Anyone? Any tea being drunk there (sweet or otherwise)? Any Kool-Aid? Seems like the states that are subsidized most heavily by federal tax dollars, and that get far more than they give, are the ones who scream the loudest that they're getting hosed.
Kuki's had it right all along: we've got to collect more in taxes, AND overhaul the tax code. As far as spending is concerned, every credible economist of every political stripe that I've read points out that our debt is a long term issue not a short term issue. . .and that federal spending cuts now will kill jobs far more than sensible tax increases on the rich.
The problem, of course, is that our polictical system is structured such that we have not the slightest clue about how to deal with any long term problems. The only problems that exist for our government are short term ones. That is because these guys can't see past the next election, and they succumb to fat checks from fat cats, to the never-ending 24-hour news cycle, and to what they think is the power of the press release.
They have mortgaged all of us to their sordid ambitions and vulgar egos, and the problem with running them all out on a rail is the terrifying prospect of what would replace them.
I'm all for term limits too, but the problem is that the best and the brightest in our land for years have taken one look at the political scene, done a quick personal cost/benefits analysis, and have run screaming from any political activity. There are exceptions, but that's the norm. And that's a big reason why we are left with the bottom-of-the-barrel hack politicians that have brought us to the brink of financial ruin.
And who seem to have no problem with shooting the hostage even after the ransom is paid.
We're in trouble. I hope the Standard & Poors downgrade will wake some people up, but I doubt it will.