I am often confronted by self-proclaimed conservatives and libertarians who lament social services and preach about the federal debt. They love to say that states across the Bible Belt could survive on their own, if it wasn’t for that meddling federal government they think is holding them back.
As a resident of Louisiana for the past 5+ years, it is easy to see that these states are in deep in debt and are struggling to stay alive on their budgets. These states are run by right-wing Republicans who have exploited every funding trick possible to make it look like they are staying in the black for funding. Nobody did that better than the Bobby Jindal administration, and now the state faces a budget gap that is almost impossible to close without massive cuts and raising taxes.
A favorite conservative talking point is that government has a spending problem, not a revenue problem. But as we see in Louisiana, the state missed out on over a billion dollars thanks to tax exemptions for fracking on gas wells – all while Bobby Jindal spent most of the last couple of years on the road campaigning for president on Louisiana’s credit card.
Now that a fiscally conservative governor is tasked with cleaning up the mess left by Bobby Jindal and his cronies in the state legislature, the Louisiana GOP is willing to slash higher education and social services rather than do away with some tax breaks and find addition sources of revenue.
The numbers don’t lie, red states do tend to take in more federal money than they pay in.
Many of these states also have horrible roads, shoddy public education, and poor health statistics. For that, there is no better example than Louisiana or Mississippi which continually rank at or near the bottom.
The problem isn’t that these states have a spending problem. Granted, there is waste – as we saw in the failed presidential campaign of Bobby Jindal. Fraud and waste are factors indeed. But the greater issue is that red states refuse to take care of their citizens, and then have to beg corporations to do business there by using ridiculous tax breaks or subsidies to lure them in.
There is a reason why tech companies or the film industry aren’t organically flocking to the Deep South. Why would anyone want to do business in places with undereducated and sick citizens, combined with lousy infrastructure and bigotry towards anyone who isn’t a conservative white, heterosexual Christian? That’s why Louisiana has had to give massive credits to the film industry, and why tech companies stay in places like San Francisco or Denver rather than move to Birmingham or Shreveport.
Red states are poor and sick welfare queens, and it is the fault of voters who keep on electing conservatives. They can only kick the can down the road so far. It is only a matter of time before something has to give, and it will explode in the face of the GOP – as they rightly deserve.