I wrote the previous update of this article just before the 2018 election, the first of two “Blue Tsunami” elections, but I like keeping this on the record. After all, it is important to make sure everyone has access to the Republican record in government, which is nothing short of pathetic. Those of you who live in Red states, I’m sorry, but the dreadful feeling you have about your state is justified. Check out these statistics, and you’ll know; your favorite party has been screwing you and now, you can prove it.
To all of you who insist on claiming there is little or no difference between the two parties, you should all learn to sit down and shut up for a change. The Democratic and Republican Parties has never been more different; one of the two parties isn’t even fully functional. I mean, they nominated Donald Trump to lead the party and they support him wholeheartedly, even when his agenda is decidedly un-American.
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. Consider; a little over two years ago, Republicans passed a massive tax cut designed to starve the federal treasury of $2-3 trillion, and they are trying to pay for it by cutting programs for the poor every chance they get. They stripped us of the readiness we had to meet a pandemic head-on, and it’s taken them almost three months to even get testing equipment and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) into the hands of the hospital personnel who need it. The saddest part is, there is no way to pay back $2-3 trillion without massive cuts AND increased tax rates on the people who can most afford to pay, And Republicans have shown hemelves incapable of providing relief to Americans who are not in the top 1% of income earners.
For example, in the recent past, one of the few times Republicans tried to do something for the American people was when they set up Medicare Part D, which is a prescription drug program for seniors that was barely better than the previous system. They not only left a “donut hole” in the plan that costing seniors more money than the previous plan, that didn’t exist. And being against regulation as a matter of principle, Republicans also 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 were forced to fix Part D with the Affordable Care Act.
Consider how many Democratic Party programs Republicans have killed over the past few decades. Ever hear of the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA)? That was a highly successful job training program to place poor people in jobs, but it was among the first programs Reagan destroyed when he took office, presumably so that he could afford to give the fiulthy rich a huge tax cut. And lets remember the recession his tax cuts caused, which made CETA a very important program for the newly poor. You see, to the modern Repubican Party, the poor working their way out of poverty is less of a priority than giving millionaires and billionaires a massive tax cut.
That’s not all. Republicans are also in favor of propping up big oil. Back in the late 1970s, Democrats passed standards that would have reduced fossil fuel usage by five percent per year. Of course, Saint Reagan killed those, too. When Democrats were in charge during the post-war era, unions and large companies all thrived. When (former union president) Saint Reagan signaled it was okay to kill the air traffic controllers union, PATCO, he was praised by Republicans. Saint Reagan also paved the way for a massive expansion of “right to work” laws, which all but marked the end of unions in the US.
It’s this simple; Republicans have shown themselves to be wholly incompetent at running the government, even before they crowned Donald Trump their king. This should be obvious; From 1933-1980, Democrats were in the majority most of the time, and during that 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 and usually a recession. Republicans created the conditions that led to both the Great Depression of the 1930s and the Great Bush Recession of 2008, which came perilously close to becoming a depression before President Obama and Democrats addressed it. 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 at the end of World War II to 33% of GDP while Jimmy Carter was President. It wasn’t until Saint Reagan was elected that the debt rose to absurd levels. 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. As you can see, without the Bush 43 tax cuts and the massive war spending he directed, followed by the massive recession Republicans caused with their largesse, the total debt might be less than 10% of GDP by now. About 80-90% of the current debt can be laid at the feet of the Republican ideology. They used to 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. On the other hand, 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 and most talented people, capable of making their state better. Yet, here is a list of the ten smartest states, based on level of education and several other factors: 1. Vermont 2. Connecticut; 3. Massachusetts; 4. New Hampshire; 5. Virginia; 6. New Jersey; 7. Maryland; 8. Rhode Island; 9. Mainea; 10. Hawaii.
Of course, when you check out the bottom ten, well… guess who runs most of them: 50. Louisiana; 49. Nevada; 47. Oklahoma; 46.(tie) New Mexico and Mississippi; 44. (tie) Wyoming and Indiana; 43. West Virginia; 42. Idaho; 41. Alabama. (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
If this comes as a surprise by you, you’re not paying attention, You’re also probably a Republican; see, supply-side economics, which right-wingers like to call “trickle-down” because it sounds friendlier 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, mostly because it makes no sense. In the history of capitalism, lower taxes has never led to a higher level of investment. That is because the twwo concepts are in no way 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 that their state economies are in far better shape than those in blue states, they are lying.
A few years ago, a New York Times analysis showed the hardest places to live in the entire United States. They presented the data by county, and they mined 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. Following is the map:
It’s easy to see where the biggest pockets of deep 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,” CNBC published a new list in 2018 and compiled a list of the 10 hardest states to live in, which is as follows: (Source)
Let’s look at this more closely. We’ll start with an easy concept; median household income:
Based on a three-year average, from 2016-2018, the ten states with the lowest median household income were: 50. Mississippi, $43,383; 49. Louisiana, $46,916; 48. New Mexico, $47,308; 47. West Virginia, $47,873; 46. Arkansas, $49,430; 45. Alabama, $49,965; 44. Kentucky, $51,385; 43. North Carolina, $53,119; 42. Oklahoma, $54,118; and 41. Florida, $54,232 (Source)
Compare those figures with those of the ten states with the highest median household income from 2016-2018: 1.Maryland, $84,109; 2. Massachusetts, $80,816; 3. New Hampshire, $80,892; 4. Alaska, $77,003; 5. Hawai, $76,759; 6. Connecticut, $76,363 7. Washington, $75,189; 8. Colorado, $74,401; 9. Utah, $73,359; 10. Virginia, $73,326. (Source)
Incomes are just part of the picture, so we should also check out poverty rates. Keep in mind, poverty rates nationwide had been dropping since the end of the Great Recession, until the Trump Administration bungled the response to the coronavirus. Here are the ten states in which household poverty rates are highest as of 2015, which is the last year available: 1. Mississippi, 20.7%; 2. New Mexico, 19.6%; 3. Louisiana, 19.6%; 4. Kentucky, 17.4%; 5. West Virginia, 17.3%; 6. Arkansas, 17.06%; 7. Alabama, 17.05%; 8. Tennessee, 16% 9.Arizona, 15.7%; 10. Georgia, 15.6%. (Source)
Compare that with the states boasting the lowest poverty rates as of 2015: 50. New Hampshire, 7.6%; 49. Maryland, 9.2%; 48. Hawaii, 9.67%; 47. Connecticut, 9.73%; 46. Minnesota, 9.9%; 45. Utah and New Jersey, 10.18% 43. Massachusetts, 10.4%; 42. North Dakota and Alaska (tie), 10.54% (Source)
That’s a lot of Blue. In fact, the only Red State at the top of the list is Utah. So why are Republicans always bragging about how great they are with regard to their stewardship of the economy. Just as an aside, California’s poverty rate of 14% is far lower than Texas. Now, it’s probably much lower. (Source)
To go along with the above statistics, we examined 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 love to lecture everyone else about welfare for the poor and physically challenged, the actual record shows Red states have a bigger problem than Blue states. Part of the problem is, Dixiecrats have been fully absorbed into the Republican base and they have always sucked at economy. Because The GOP peddles the idiocy of “trickle-down economics,” these states will likely continue at the bottom.
Speaking of poor, you should know this fact:
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 are the most dependent on federal money: 1. New Mexico, 2. Kentucky; 3. Mississippi; 4. West Virginia; 5. Montana, 6. Alaska; 7. South Carolina; 8. Indiana; 9. Arizona; 10: Wyoming (Source)
And, since we intend full disclosure, here are the states that are the least dependent on federal money: 50. Kansas; 49. New Jersey; 48. Delaware; 47. Iowa; 46.Utah; 45. Illinois; 44. Massachusetts; 43. Minnesota; 42. Washington; 41. California. (Source)
One could, of course, make the case that money isn’t everything. If a red state was safe and secure place to live and raise a family, who would really care if they made a bit less money? Unfortunately for those living in red states however, things aren’t exactly great. When Republicans complain about how bad things are in blue states, 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 2017, the ten states with the highest homicide rates were; 1. Louisiana, 14.4 (per 100,000); 2. Alabama, 12.9; 3. Mississippi, 12.7; 4. Missouri, 11.3; 5. Alaska, 10.6; 6. Maryland, 10.2; 7. Arkansas, 9.8; 8. South Carolina, 9.3; 9. Illinois, 9.0; 10. Tennessee, 8.8 (Source)
If you listen to a lot of Republican rhetoric, some of the ten states with the lowest murder rates for 2017 will likely surprise you: 50. New Hampshire, 1.2 (per 100,000); 49. Maine, 1.4; 48. Rhode Island, 1.8; 47. North Dakota, 2.0; 46. Minnesota, 2.2; 45. Vermont, 2.4; 44. Hawaii, 2.5; 43.(tie) Massachusetts and Utah, 2.5; 41. Nebraska, 2.7 (Source)
If you expand that concept to all violent crime, it doesn’t exactly improve things for the people living in red states. The states with the highest rate of violent crime for 2016 are; 1. Alaska, 804 (per 100,000); 2. New Mexico 703; 3. Nevada, 678; 4. Tennessee, 633; 5. Louisiana, 566; 6. Arkansas, 551; 7. Alabama, 532; 8. Missouri, 519; 9. Delaware, 509; 10. South Carolina, 502 (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.
Of course, Republican ideology suggests that the solution to violent crime is more guns. Unfortunately for them, the data suggests the opposite is true.
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 (2018): 1. Mississippi, 22.9 (per 100,000); 2. Alabama, 21.8; 3. (tie) Missouri and Wyoming, 21.5; 5. Louisiana, 21.4; 6. Alaska, 21.0; 7. New Mexico, 20.7; 8. Arkansas, 18.9; 9. West Virginia, 18.2; 10. Nevada, 17.9. (Source)
Worse, of the 31 states that were above the national average firearm death rate, which was 11.9 per 100,000, 27 are reliably red. Of the 20 states that were below that average, only two are reliably red.
To reinforce that point, here are the ten states with the largest numbers of gun registrations: 50. Texas; 49. Florida; 48. California; 47. Virginia; 46. Pennsylvania; 45. Georgia; 44. Arizona; 43.North Carolina; 42. Ohio; 41. Alabama (Source) Compare that with the list of states with the highest violent crime rates, and you’ll discover 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
Republicans love to talk about “sanctity of marriage,” in rhetoric, but it seems to not reinforce their lives in practice. There is nothing wrong with being divorced, except that Republicans seem to be rank hypocrites on what they refer to as “family values.” For people who claim such 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 Their Fair Share
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.