Wednesday, November 17, 2004


My friend forwarded me a great article that, frankly, emphasized something so painfully obvious that it eludes most people, including me, until now: presidential candidates almost wholly ignore Urban America.

Now, I think a lot of this has to do with our electoral college system, which renders it crucial that a candidate get a majority of votes in a state (rather than try to accumulate votes across the U.S. through popular vote, which would make it more efficient to do as much urban campaigning as possible). Still, it can't be ignored that urban areas go strongly for Democrats and rural and "exurb" areas, well, don't. It also can't be ignored that the Republican party sometimes subtly but usually indiscreetly denigrates urban America, despite the cities' contribution to America's GDP, its tax base, its dynamism and culture, etc. etc. and so on.

Now, I understand that people who live in less dense areas won't see the benefit of taxes for social programs, mass transit, city cleaning crews, etc. the way people who live in urban or certain suburban areas do, but unfortunately, the people out in many of those sprawled suburbs and the southern and western rural areas get back more taxes than they give in the form of government programs and infrastructure (think roads, lots of roads) so those people down south and in certain western states are complaining like ingrates. As the article that I have quoted pointes out,

While red-state voters like to complain about "tax-and-spend liberals," red states are hopelessly dependent on the largess of the federal government to prop up their dwindling rural population. Red states like North Dakota, New Mexico, Mississippi, Alaska, West Virginia, Montana, Alabama, South Dakota, and Arkansas top the list of federal spending per dollar of federal taxes paid. And who's paying the most? Blue states. Cities--and states dominated by their cities. Welfare states, in contrast, demand federal money to fund wasteful roads to nowhere.

Not that I think this has much of a chance, but it would be great if Congressmen gave these people their wish: tax them less but redistribute the taxes that we urban and semi-urban people pay to benefit US. I call it the Voluntary Taxation for Ingrates plan. Of course, I don't want to exclude anyone in less populated areas who sees the benefit in keeping our air clean, our forests alive, maybe having better national train transport so we can journey from those rural areas to the cities and back, you all can come along! But the rural areas in the South and West, those that tend to offer the least, well, I wonder what they would think if they went without the revenues of productivity that comes from those of us who live in "Gomorrah." As my friend put it "Cities!"

1 comment:

Ilana said...

What a great idea! Elaine for President!

Can anyone remind me again why we didn´t just let the South secede from the Union?