No one likes to pay taxes. It’s never fun parting with your money and not getting anything in return. Sure, roads, bridges, schools, national defense, protection from criminals, fires and national disasters all come from tax revenue — but that’s not as tangible as a shiny new Xbox, a new car or a dinner at a fancy restaurant. Liberals and conservatives alike aren’t happy about coughing up wages for The Man, although conservatives seem to make a hell of a lot more noise about it.
Come election time, we’re often reminded of the differences between liberals and conservatives when it comes to taxation. Republicans don’t like big government, and they hate taxes, while liberal Democrats, if they got their way, would throw a taxation orgy of bacchanalian proportions. Sound familiar?
Problem is, studies performed by WalletHub.com, Taxfoundation.org and other research institutions show that liberal states overwhelming pay more into the federal tax system than they take out — and with a few exceptions (get your act together, Hawaii), traditional red states take out more than they pay in.
While many a conservative legislators claims to abhor taxes, in reality, conservative governments have no qualms about taking tax revenue from their more liberal neighbors. A disproportionate number of conservative states are “stealing,” or if that term offends you, “indefinitely borrowing” money from liberal ones.
If my fellow citizens, depending on where they happen to live, need more from the federal kitty than they pay in, I don’t have a problem with that. We’re all in this together, after all. What I do take issue with is the false dogmatic tax rhetoric that’s relentlessly drilled into our skulls election cycle after election cycle.
A political ad in the recent Idaho gubernatorial election painted the Democratic candidate, A.J. Balukoff (who appeared to be giving incumbent Butch Otter night sweats) as a liberal who loves taxing the good people, making him, “A perfect fit for California, wrong for Idaho.”
The thing is, Idaho, ranked the third most conservative state in the union by Gallup, while admittedly not as bad as Alabama or Mississippi, gets more money back from the federal government than it ponies up, while “liberal” California (always getting bashed by the right) actually gets less.
Perhaps a more honest conservative campaign mantra for would-be candidates in these states come future elections should be: “Liberal candidate so and so, wrong for (insert conservative state name here), but right for (insert liberal state name here). Besides, we’re just going to take a disproportionate amount of federal tax revue after the election anyway. Why pay taxes out of our own conservative pockets?”
All right, maybe that one is little long (and truthful) for a real campaign slogan, but you get the basic idea.
Carl Pettit is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine.