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Letter from the Editor

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One of the primary debating points that emerged during the 2012 presidential campaign was that of "takers versus makers." GOP candidate Mitt Romney hammered the point repeatedly to the electorate — that most of those who were backing President Obama in his reelection were takers, living off the efforts of the makers: the noble, hard-working Americans seeking only the freedom to earn a living and provide jobs for all.

As we now know, when the final tally was taken on Election Day, the blue Obama states won the day over Romney's red states. In fact, the "takers" won by a landslide. Funny thing, though — as several studies in the past two years have shown — those red states are the real takers, living off the efforts of the blue states. The bottom line: GOP-led red states take in much more in federal funding than they pay out in federal taxes.

The most recent example, a WalletHub study released this week, shows that red states rely much more heavily on federal assistance than blue states. In fact, there's almost a direct correlation with that 2012 electoral map. And the states that suck the hardest on the federal teat are almost all in the South, the "makers" electoral stronghold. South Carolina, for example, gets $8 in federal funding for every $1 it pays out. Tennessee, the fifth-worst taker, gets $1.64 in federal support for every dollar it contributes. So much for that vaunted disdain for "big government" from our Nashville legislators.

GOP state legislatures have figured out how to loudly squawk the talk of small government while quietly reaping the benefits of the federal safety net. They've reduced their states' aid to poverty programs and health care, fought higher minimum wage standards, raised the cost of higher education, lowered public education funding, privatized any state program they can dole out to their supporters — and reduced the corporate and personal taxes that pay for these services in blue states. Most of this legislation is bought and paid for by corporate and special interest lobbyists.

So, the red states get to boast about their favorable business climates and their low-cost workers. And corporations love them — and show their love with generous campaign contributions.

It's another reason our own Nashville yahoos can spend the entire legislative session coming up with new gay-bashing "religious freedom" bills that codify and sanction bullying. Oh, and I have to mention my new favorite, a just-introduced bill that will restructure the committee that reviews and sanctions our public school textbooks, changing it from a group of educators and experts to a group of political appointees. What could possibly go wrong with that plan?

But really, it's no big deal if we Tennesseans dumb ourselves down even further. As long as those blue Obama states have got our back.

Bruce VanWyngarden

brucev@memphisflyer.com

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