As I have pointed out repeatedly, the difference between the Democratic and Republican Parties has never been more stark. The Democratic ideology is about helping as many people as possible, whereas the Republican ideology is all about low taxes and not spending money on anything, except tax cuts. One of the few times Republicans tried to do something for the American people, we got Medicare Part D, a prescription drug program for seniors that was barely better than the previous system. They not only left seniors in the lurch with a “donut hole,” but they prohibited negotiations and price controls on drugs, which is great for Big Pharma, but no one else. Not only did they largely screw seniors, but taxpayers, in general were forced to pay whatever the drug company decided they wanted. The Democrats had to fix Part D with the Affordable Care Act.
And look at how many Democratic Party programs Republicans have killed over the past few decades. Ever hear of CETA? That was a highly successful job training program to place poor people in jobs, and it was one of the first programs Reagan destroyed so that he could give rich people a huge tax cut. In other words, to the GOP, the poor working their way out of poverty became less important than millionaires seeing their tax rates cut in half. Back in the late 1970s, Democrats passed standards that would have reduced fossil fuel usage by five percent per year and Reagan killed those, too. When Democrats were in charge, unions and large companies thrived. When former union president Saint Reagan signaled it was okay to kill a union by killing the air traffic controllers union, PATCO and he paved the way to expansion of “right to work” it all but marked the end of unions in the US.
Republicans are wholly incompetent at running the government; a fact that should be obvious by now. What should also be obvious is, during the period from 1933-1980, with Democrats in charge most of the time, we became the most prosperous nation in the world. Since Republicans have taken over, we’re quickly becoming an also-ran. That’s not a coincidence; their ideology is vacuous and morally bankrupt. Their intent is to prove that government doesn’t work; you cannot say the same about even the worst Democrat.
Republicans don’t care about deficits, which is why they always leave us with huge debt. Republicans created the conditions that led to both the Great Depression of the 1930s and the Great Bush Mortgage Meltdown and Recession of 2008. Republicans usually crash the economy and run up the debt, while Democrats fix the economy and return the budget at least closer to equilibrium. That doesn’t mean the debt will ever be zero; that’s unrealistic. But with Democrats in charge, the debt went from 120% of GDP to 33% of GDP during the post-war era. It wasn’t until Reagan was elected that the debt became ridiculous. Republican ideology shows that they have no problem leaving the cost of it all to our children and grandchildren.
There are plenty of data supporting this. Look at this chart (Source):
The green stripe shows what the debt would look like had Reagan and Bush 41 actually balanced the budget, as they promised, and Democratic Presidents Clinton, Bush 43 and Obama did exactly what they did. Of course, without the Bush 43 tax cuts and the massive war spending he directed, followed by the massive recession, the total debt might be less than 10% of GDP by now. As you can see, about 80-90% of the current debt can be laid at the feet of the Republican ideology. They call themselves the “Party of fiscal responsibility,” but the Republican ideology doesn’t allow for responsibility. Since the end of World War II, there have been 10 recessions, and only one came under a Democratic president. However, it was Democratic Presidents and Democratic Congresses who pulled us out of all 10.
The problem with Republican governance is even starker when you look at the records in individual states. Regardless of the weather, it is just easier to live in blue states than red states. It’s difficult to find a single quality-of-life issue that isn’t better in blue states than in red states.
For example, the top goal of any state should be to attract the best people, meaning the sharpest people, capable of making your state better. Yet, here is a list of the ten smartest states, based on level of education and several other factors: 1. Massachusetts; 2. Vermont; 3. Virginia; 4. New Hampshire; 5. Connecticut; 6. New Jersey; 7. Minnesota; 8. Maryland 9. Nebraska; 10. California
Nebraska is the only solidly red state in that group. And yet, when you look at the bottom ten, well…
49.(tie) Mississippi and Louisiana; 48. Nevada; 47. Oklahoma; 45.(tie) Alabama and Arkansas; 44. New Mexico; 43. Indiana; 42. West Virginia; 41. South Carolina. (Source)
The next question is, if red states are such nice places to live, which is what Republicans claim, why do they not attract the best and the brightest? In part, it’s because, while these states feature low taxes, it’s also because the Republicans running these places have messed up everything, including the economy. Face it; even when they have the greatest climate and the lowest taxes, Republican-led states are not great places to live.
Republicans and Economy: Like Oil and Water
Supply-side economics, also known as “trickle-down,” doesn’t work. We know this because Republicans have tried it many times over the past 40 years and the expectation that lower taxes will cause businesspeople to invest more in the economy just doesn’t work. That’s probably because make sense. In the history of the world, lower taxes does not lead to more investment because the two things aren’t related. Most red states feature low or no income tax rates and they brag of “balanced budgets” and restrained spending, but while Republicans often claim, or at least insinuate, that their state economies are in far better shape than those in blue states, they lie. Again, they lie.
A couple years ago, an analysis in the New York Times showed the hardest places in the country to live. They compiled the data by county, and they used six data points, including education, household income, unemployment rate, disability rate, life expectancy and obesity. The blue sections are the easiest places to live, while the orange (their choice of color came long before Donald Trump ran for president, so it’s pure serendipity) are the hardest. Here is a screenshot of the map:
It’s easy to see where the biggest pockets of orange are, and when you look at data on a state by state basis, the reality becomes clear; red states are not well-run and it’s easy to see why the people living in them have a difficult time. In fact, in case you think data from 2014 is “old,” this past week, CNBC published a new list, with the 10 hardest states to live in. they were as follows:
10. Kentucky; 9. (Tie) New Mexico and Tennessee; 7. Mississippi; 6. Indiana; 5. Missouri; 4. Arkansas; 3. Oklahoma; 2. Louisiana and 1. Alabama. (Source)
Let’s take a look at this more closely, starting with an easy concept; median household income:
Based on a three-year average, from 2013-2015, the ten states with the lowest median household income were: 50. Mississippi, $36,188; 49. West Virginia, $42,082; 48. Arkansas, $42,813; 47. Kentucky, $43,629; 46. New Mexico, $44,243; 45. Alabama, $44,995; 44. Tennessee, $45,072; 43. Louisiana, $45,206 42. South Carolina, $45,222 and 41. Oklahoma, $47,101. (Source)
Compare those figures with those of the ten states with the highest median household income from 2013-2015: 1.Maryland, $73,472; 2. New Hampshire $69,518; 3. Alaska, $72,187; 4. Connecticut, $71,213; 5. Minnesota, $67,168; 6. Hawaii, $67,060 7. New Jersey, $66,182; 8. Colorado, $65,570 9. Virginia, $64,926; 10. Massachusetts, $64,903. (Source) The only red state on that list is Alaska, and they shouldn’t count, since their economy is largely dependent on payments from oil companies, which increased during the oil boom.
Incomes are just part of the picture, so let’s look at poverty rates. Keep in mind, poverty rates nationwide have been dropping since the end of the Great Recession, and yet, look at the ten states where household poverty rates are highest as of 2015, which is the last year available: 1. Mississippi, 22.0%; 2. New Mexico, 20.4%; 3. Louisiana, 19.6%; 4. Arkansas, 19.1%; 5. Kentucky and Alabama (tie), 18.5%; 7. West Virginia, 17.9%; 8. Arizona 17.4%; 9. Georgia, 17.0%; 10. Tennessee, 16.7%. (Source)
Compare that with the states boasting the lowest poverty rates as of 2015: 50. New Hampshire, 8.2%; 49. Maryland, 9.7%; 48. Vermont and Minnesota (tie), 10.2% . 46. Alaska, 10.3%; 45. Connecticut, 10.5%; 44. Hawaii; 10.6%; 43. New Jersey, 10.8%; 42. North Dakota , 11.0%; and 41. Wyoming, 11.1%; (Source)
Most striking is that, except Utah, the red states appearing in that list were in the midst of a massive oil and gas boom at the time. And yet, apparently many blue states are doing better than the largest oil boom state, Texas, which has the 17th highest poverty rate, at 16.9%. And yet, they are always bragging to the rest of us how much they’re booming. By the way, California’s poverty rate was lower than Texas, even in 2014. Now, it’s probably much lower.
To go along with the above statistics, we could look at states with the highest rate of SNAP (Food Stamps) recipients, as of October 9, 2015: 1. New Mexico, 22.3%; 2. Mississippi, 21.2%; 3. Oregon, 20.1%; 4. West Virginia, 19.9%; 5. Florida, 19.4%; 6. Louisiana, 19.1%; 7. Tennessee, 19%; 8. Alabama, 18.5%; 9. Georgia, 18.4%; 10. South Carolina, 17.2%. (Source)
Put simply, while Republicans try to pass themselves off as “fiscally responsible,” and always lecture us on “welfare” have a bigger problem than anyone they’re lecturing. And their people are poorer and hungrier as a result. It’s the ideology that’s the problem. Most of these states have always been poor, even when they were led by Dixiecrats. And that is because Dixiecrats have been fully absorbed into the Republican base. And because The GOP peddles the idiocy of “trickle down,” these states continue to wallow at the bottom.
Speaking of poor, you should know that…
Red States are the Real “Welfare Queens.”
As bad as things are in red states, they’d be far worse off without the massive subsidies provided by taxpayers in the blue states. Yes, that’s right; for all the Republican whining about welfare, they’re actually the real “welfare queens,” a term ironically coined by none other than Saint Ronald Reagan. Whenever a Republican whines about how horrible it is to support California during tough times, show them these numbers, laugh in their faces and tell them to shut up.
Here are the red states who receive the most federal money back for every dollar they paid in taxes in 2013: South Carolina, $5.38 (NOT a typo); North Dakota, $3.83; Alabama, $2.46; Mississippi, $2.34; New Mexico, $2.19; Kentucky, $2.18; Florida, $2.02; West Virginia, $1.91; Indiana, $1.81; Wisconsin, $1.79. (Source)
For the record, here are the states that get the least amount of federal money for every dollar they pay in taxes: Delaware $0.31; Nebraska, $0.41; Illinois, $0.45; New Jersey, $0.48; Ohio, $0.51; Kansas, $0.54; Minnesota, $0.54; Wyoming, $0.55; New York, $0.58; Colorado, $0.64 (Source)
There’s an even better measure out there now. Here is a list of states ranked by their government’s dependence on the federal government, based on a number of criteria, including their dependence on federal subsidies, combined with their dependence on federal contracts and the military. This is telling: 1. Mississippi; 2. Louisiana; 3. Tennessee; 4. South Dakota; 5. Missouri; 6. Montana; 7. Georgia; 8. New Mexico; 9. Alabama; 10. Maine. (Source)
One could, of course, make the case that money isn’t everything. If a state was a safe, secure place to live and raise a family, who would really care if they made a bit less, right? Unfortunately for the people living in those red states however, when Republicans complain about how bad things are, they’re projecting.
Red States Are Not Safer
You see, there’s a reason Republicans like to focus on Chicago and Detroit when they talk about violent crime; they want to take the focus off their states. In 2014, the ten states with the highest murder rates were; 1. Louisiana, 10.3 (per 100,000); 2. Mississippi, 8.6; 3. Missouri, 6.6; 4. South Carolina, 6.4; 5. Maryland, 6.1; 6. Nevada, 6.0; 7. (tie) Delaware and Florida, 5.8; 9. (tie) Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee, 5.7. (Source)
Notice something missing in that group? Illinois and Michigan? How about New York and New Jersey, which Republicans dismiss as murderous hellscapes because of their strict gun laws.
Meanwhile, the ten states with the lowest murder rates for 2014 were: 50. New Hampshire, 0.9 (per 100,000); 47. (tie) Vermont, Maine and Minnesota, 1.6; 46. Hawaii, 1.8; 45 Iowa, 1.9; 42. (tie) Oregon, Massachusetts and Idaho, 2.0; 41. (tie) Utah and South Dakota, 2.3. (Source)
If you expand that beyond murder to all violent crime, it doesn’t get better for red states. The states with the highest rate of violent crime for 2014 are; 1. Alaska, 635.8 (per 100,000); 2. Nevada, 635.6; 3. Tennessee, 608.4; 4. New Mexico, 597.4; 5. Florida, 540.5; 6. Louisiana, 514.7; 7. South Carolina, 497.7; 8. Delaware, 489.1; 9. Arkansas, 480.1; 10. Maryland, 446.1 (Source)
Though Republican ideology requires a laser-like focus on Chicago, Detroit and New York, while blue states have pockets of violence, violence seems to be everywhere in red states. If it’s a huge red state with almost no people, you may have a chance. If not, you’re screwed.
The “War on Women” is apparently quite literal in red states. The 10 states with the highest rate of women murdered by men (2012) are; 1. Alaska, 2.57 (per 100,000 women); 2. South Carolina, 2.06; 3. Oklahoma, 2.03; 4. Louisiana, 1.92; 5. Mississippi, 1.89; 6. Nevada, 1.83; 7. Missouri, 1.73; 8. Arizona, 1.70; 9. Georgia, 1.66; 10. Tennessee, 1.60. (Source)
Of course, Republican ideology suggests that the solution to violent crime is more guns, but the data suggests the opposite.
The ten states with the highest rate of firearms ownership are: 1. Wyoming 59.7%; 2. Alaska 57.8%; 3. Montana 57.7%; 4. South Dakota 56.6%; 5. West Virginia 55.4%; 6(T) Mississippi, Idaho and Arkansas 55.3%; 9. Alabama 51.7%; 10. North Dakota 50.7%. (Source)
Now, according to GOP ideology, that should mean a lot fewer firearm deaths. Unfortunately, that assumption is wrong. There is a whole lot of overlap with states having the highest firearm death rate (2013): 1. Alaska, 19.8 (per 100,000); 2. Louisiana, 19.3; 3. Mississippi, 17.8; 4. Alabama, 17.6; 5. Arkansas, 16.8; 6. Montana and Wyoming, 16.7; 8. Oklahoma, 16.5;.9. New Mexico, 15.5; 10. Tennessee, 15.4. (Source)
Worse, of the 31 states that were above the national average firearm death rate was 10.4 per 100,000, 26 are reliably red. Of the 19 states that were below that average, only two are red.
To reinforce that point, here are the ten states with the lowest rates of gun ownership: 50. Hawaii 6.7%; 49. New Jersey 12.3%; 48. Massachusetts 12.6%; 47. Rhode Island 12.8%; 46. Connecticut 16.7%; 45. New York 18%; 44. Illinois 20.2%; 42(T). California and Maryland 21.3%; 41. Florida 24.5% (Source)
Compare that list of states with the list of ten states with the lowest firearm death rates: 50. Hawaii, 2.6 (per 100,000); 49. Massachusetts, 3.1; 48. New York, 4.2; 47. Connecticut, 4.4; 46. Rhode Island, 5.3; 45. New Jersey, 5.7; 44. New Hampshire, 6.4; 43. Minnesota, 7.6; 42. California, 7.7; 41. Iowa, 8.0 (Source) They all have stricter gun laws, which means the NRA line is obviously a lie. There is no rational basis for a belief that more access to guns equals less gun crime and fewer gun deaths and the numbers prove that.
Red State “Family Values” Are a Myth
For all their talk about “sanctity of marriage,” in practice, well… not so much. Now, there is nothing wrong with being divorced, but for people who claim so much self-righteousness, the record is pretty pathetic. Look at the the ten states with the highest divorce rates: 1. Maine; 2. Nevada; 3. Oklahoma; 4. Arkansas; 5. West Virginia; 6. Florida; 7. Kentucky; 8. Oregon; 9. Montana; 10. (tie)Tennessee and Indiana (Source) Except for Oregon and Nevada, they are all red. It’s also probably not fair to include Nevada on the list, since that state is a destination for both quickie weddings and divorces. All others with high divorce rates are led by self-righteous Republicans who consistently whine about same-sex marriage.
Meanwhile, the states with the fewest divorces, save two, have no qualms about same-sex marriages. They are: 1. New York; 2. New Jersey; 3. Utah; 4. North Dakota; 5. Hawaii; 6. Massachusetts; 7.(tie) Illinois, Pennsylvania and California 10. Maryland. (Source)
While Republicans complain mightily about the “loose morals” of liberals, and prefer “abstinence-only” programs, they might want to re-think. Whatever they’re doing isn’t working. The 10 states with the highest rate of teen pregnancy are: 1. New Mexico; 2. Nevada; 3. Arizona; 4. Texas; 5. Mississippi; 6. Delaware; 7. Arkansas; 8. Georgia; 9.(Tie) South Carolina and Tennessee (Source)
And while they seem obsessed with sex, the CDC recently released a report on three major Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) in resurgence in recent years. The big three are chlymidia, gonorrhea and syphillis, and here are the states with the highest rates of STDs: 1. Louisiana; 2. Mississippi; 3. Georgia; 4. Alabama; 5. South Carolina; 6. Arkansas; 7. Illinois; 8. Texas; 9. New York; 10. North Carolina. (Source). This would seem to indicate that red states’ rejection of the ACA and their defunding of Planned Parenthood is a really bad idea.
Red States Also Fail at Education
Our kids are our future. However, in Republican-led states, their education is seriously lacking. The average graduation rate nationwide as of 2014-2015 is 83%. There are 17 states that are below that (perhaps 18, since Alabama was unable to produce acceptable figures) and of those 17 states, only five are blue. (Source)
It’s no wonder so many drop out. Look at how little red states spend on education per pupil. The bottom ten states when it comes to per pupil spending on education as of Fiscal Year 2014 are: 50. Utah, $6,500; 49. Idaho, $6,621; 48. Arizona, $7,528 ; 47. Oklahoma, $7,820; 46. Mississippi, $8,263 ; 45. Nevada, $8,414; 44. North Carolina, $8,512; 43. Texas, $8,594; 42. Tennessee, $8,630 ; 41. Florida, $8,755 (Source)
Meanwhile, the states with the highest spending per pupil (FY 2014) are: 1. New York, $20,610; 2. Alaska, $18,416; 3. New Jersey, $17,907; 4. Connecticut, $17,745; 5. Vermont, $16,988; 6. Wyoming, $15,797; 7. Massachusetts, $15,087; 8. Rhode Island, $14,767; 9. New Hampshire, $14,335; 10. Maryland; $14,003 (Source)
The Problem is Taxes: The Rich Don’t Pay
One reason Republicans don’t spend money to make making people’s lives better is because they don’t have it. They don’t collect the revenue needed to do so. Instead, as we saw earlier, they depend on subsidies from blue states to even pay for the little they do. But while they don’t collect enough in taxes from those who can afford it, they do screw the poor and middle classes with taxes, which is commonly called “regressive taxation.”
Recently, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) took a look at the regressive nature of some states’ tax codes and ranked the states accordingly. Here’s their “top ten” counting down to the most regressive; 10. Indiana, 9. Kansas, 8. Arizona, 7. Tennessee, 6. Pennsylvania, 5. Illinois, 4. South Dakota, 3. Texas, 2. Florida, 1. Washington. (Source)
Click on that link and take a look at the states that don’t tax the rich at all. The top one percent in Florida pay less than two percent in taxes, while in Texas they pay less than three percent. Guess who makes up the difference, voters? This is the model Republicans want to impose on the entire country. You can’t be okay with that. If we’re to build a progressive nation, we have to focus on the ideology that makes people believe the country is broke, so they can give millionaires a pass while they gouge people who work for a living.
If you are looking for a reason to encourage the people you know to vote Democratic, here you are. And if you’re one of those who says both parties are the same, there is something wrong with you. Learn this. Republicans have to go.
Also published on Medium.