Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Oh, Thank you, mighty Howler

The Daily Howler

It is time for some class "warfare" of the reality-based type.... From The Daily Howler.

CONTEMPTUOUS VALUES: Many readers—many readers—sent us the Tax Foundation tables which show which states are federal free-loaders. And yes, the “red states”—the states whose denizens love to preach that bracing self-reliance—routinely take in more federal money than they submit in taxes. Meanwhile, who subsidizes these free-loading states? Who else? “Contemptuous” “elitists” from northeastern blue states, whose troubling values red-staters love to ponder! In 2003, for example, blue-state New Jersey received only 57 cents in federal spending for every dollar submitted in taxes. But then, the top ten states whose pockets are picked include eight which are nominally blue:
1) New Jersey: 57 cents
2) New Hampshire: 64 cents
3) Connecticut: 65 cents
4) Minnesota: 70 cents
5) Nevada: 70 cents
6) Illinois: 73 cents
7) California: 78 cents
8) Massachusetts: 78 cents
9) New York: 80 cents
10) Colorado: 80 cents
Eight of the ten donor states are “blue,” including Massachusetts, New York, California and Illinois—home base to the contemptuous elitists whom red-states denizens love to scold. Throughout the campaign, George Bush mocked the troubling values of liberal Massachusetts voters—people who send big bags of money to support Bush’s red-state supporters.

Is this a silly, pointless critique? In some ways, yes, as one e-mailer claimed in a semi-spot-on analysis:
E-MAIL: Here is the source of those tax numbers. I have to say that, while I generally agree with you and am also a bit tired of the whining, your prejudices are showing here. Most of the "red states" (other than those in the Midwest) have extractive economies and many are in effect internal colonies. Their current poverty is historically constructed by these facts and the relative prosperity of the “blue states” has created and

is dependent on their continued poverty (the existing economic development of the blue states in effect inhibits the red states from developing). The relationship here is essentially the same as the relations between the first world and the third world. There is a general correlation here between relative prosperity (even within red and blue states) and voting patterns. I think what the red states have in common is economic deprivation and a sense (justified) of a lack of control over their future. Unfortunately, they have wrongly identified "liberals" as the cause of their problems—in part because, as Thomas Franks points out, we have stopped talking about economic and class issues while still pushing for minority and gender enfranchisement.

Keep up the good work, but try to have a little sympathy for the unlovely lot of those red staters (if not for their infernal and unseemly whining).
But the mailer misconstrues our incomparable fairness. It’s that infernal whining we have specifically criticized—and the bogus attempt to blame “elitist liberals” as the source of red-staters’ problems. We’re not economists, and the e-mailer surely knows more than we do about red-state status as internal colonies. But, as Michael Lind discusses in Made In Texas, Southern red states became “internal colonies” with “extractive economies” because of the choices and values of Southern elites—the same Southern elites who feed their boo-hooing red-state voters their phony grievances against “contemptuous eastern liberals.” Historically, Texas elites helped make Texas an “extractive economy,” and blubbering Texans need to be told that, even as they stick their hands deep into northeastern pockets.