Sunday, November 21, 2004

States Rights -- NYT Magazine

The New York Times > Magazine > The Way We Live Now: A States' Rights Left?
Marriage affords a vivid example. In some states it is evidently more imperiled than in others. The Bible Belt states, in particular, have a shockingly high divorce rate, around 50 percent above the national average. Given such marital instability, these states are anxious to defend the institution of heterosexual matrimony, which may explain their hostility to gay marriage. The state of Massachusetts, by contrast, has the lowest divorce rate in the nation. So its people -- or at least its liberal judges -- perhaps feel more comfortable allowing some progressive experimentation. It will be interesting to see how this experiment plays out, assuming the Bush administration does not succeed in choking off the right of a state to recognize same-sex marriages by getting the Federal Marriage Amendment enacted...

... One of the most striking differences among states is in their levels of wealth. Liberals tend to live in more economically productive states than conservatives. The top five states in per capita personal income (Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland and New York) all went to Kerry; the bottom five (Utah, New Mexico, West Virginia, Arkansas and Mississippi) all went to Bush. Since the blue states are generally richer than the red states, they must bear a greater portion of the federal tax burden. Most of them pay more to Washington than they receive, whereas most of the red states receive more than they pay. Some liberals in blue states must wonder exactly what they get in return for subsidizing the heartlanders, who are said to resent them.

Here is where President Bush is their friend. According to a recent Brookings Institution analysis, as much as two-thirds of the benefits from the income tax cuts he pushed through in his first term go to taxpayers making more than $100,000 a year. These well-off Americans tend to be concentrated around New York City, Boston, Seattle, San Francisco and other liberal enclaves. By contrast, relatively few of the benefits from the Bush tax cuts go to the Southern and Prairie states, where low-income working families with children are more the norm. At present, the Bush tax cuts are scheduled to expire by 2010. If the president succeeds in making them permanent, as he has vowed to do, it will mean lasting relief for the blue states. The money they had been sending to the red states could then be spent locally, according to their own liberal values -- say, on public schools (where they already spend more per pupil than the red states) or stem-cell research.

The more conservatives succeed in reducing the size and scope of the federal government, the more fiscal freedom the blue states will have to pursue their own idea of a just society....

/// Meanwhile, blue-state liberals should stop despairing and start thinking locally. Instead of saying, ''The United States is. . . . '' try saying, ''The United States are. . . . '' See? You feel better already.

This is a sly article, slashing at the hypocrisies of the red states while nobly asking for the rights of states to differ.

I, of course, am a huge fan of states rights.

Note that Bush's plan to remove the deduction for state income tax will make the blue states even bigger donors to the red states than we already are.

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