THE RED AND THE BLUE….I got to thinking about the recall the other day, and that got me to thinking about budgets and taxes, and that in turn got me to thinking about why the California budget is so out of whack.

Now, part of the reason is that spending went up too much in the late 90s, and part of it was the dotcom bust, and part of it is just the general creakiness of our tax regime. That’s all true. But there’s something else too, something that chafes just an itty bitty little bit.

Here’s the deal. Give or take a bit, Californians pay a total of about $135 billion in state and local taxes. This is roughly 12% of total state income and makes California a fairly high tax state. Why are taxes so high here?

Well, one reason is that Californians pay about $255 billion in total taxes to the federal government but receive back only $195 billion in services. That’s a difference of $60 billion.

In other words, California subsidizes other states to the tune of $60 billion a year. If even half that money were used here instead ? for California roads, California schools, and California cops ? we could have wiped out our deficit and lowered taxes at the same time.

So who’s getting all our dough? Why, all those hard working, salt of the earth, traditionally valued red states, that’s who. The same ones who tell us they represent “real” America and complain endlessly about our elitist values, our anti-business attitudes, and our socialistic tax system. In fact, it turns out that with only 12 exceptions the net contributors to the federal budget are blue states and the net sucker-uppers are red states.

How many different ways is this infuriating? Let’s count:

  • The red staters complain endlessly about high taxes, but they sure don’t seem to mind sticking other people with high tax bills.

  • The red staters are the ones on a crusade to shrink the evil federal government, but they seem plenty happy with that government as long as they’re getting more than their fair share of it.

  • Red state politicians are sworn foes of the welfare state, but they sure seem eager enough to hoover up other people’s hard earned tax dollars.

  • Red staters rant continually about how us socialists in the blue states are driving business away because of our high taxes. Well, maybe we could cut some of those taxes if the red states gave us back some of our money, eh? And in the meantime, even with our profligate business taxes we seem to have enough business left to subsidize their economies, don’t we?

  • Income redistribution? Why, that’s communism! Unless we’re redistributing from blue to red, that is.

Basically, red America is living on welfare, and the payments are coming from us commie symps in blue America. And being the progressive sort that I am, I wouldn’t even mind that so much if they’d just take our money and shut up, instead of taking our money and then venting endlessly about the corrupt, liberal, anti-American values of the people who make it possible.

But these guys don’t want to cut taxes or shrink government, they just want to cut their taxes and shrink our government. Pretty nice scam, isn’t it?

POSTSCRIPT: Yes, I know this rant doesn’t apply to all red staters. But you know who I’m talking about….

Does this map look familiar? No, it’s not the famous red/blue map from election night 2000, it just looks like it. On this map, blue indicates states that are net contributors to the federal budget, and red indicates the welfare states that suck up all that extra money the blue states pay in.
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