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21 February 2009

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I was surprised to see how well Alaska has done at the table of pork. With Stevens out of the picture, I'm wondering how long that will continue to be true. Some months ago, Phil Angelides was on Tom Sullivan's show when Tom was still on KFBK. Phil was complaining how California was getting the short end of the federal dollar stick. The slant was obvious, as the election cycle had begun and the steady drum beat of "how evil is Bush and gang" was the order of the day. Phil had me in tears of laughter as he complained bitterly that we "producers" here in California were not getting our "fair share" of the federal dollar. This, from a liberal Democrat. I can't tell if the irony was lost on Phil or he just wanted to slag the Bush administration and didn't care how idiotic he sounded. The entire platform of the Dems is taking from producers and giving to non-producers. That's how they buy votes from the great un-washed and guilt votes from the wealthy libs. If it were all even, what would be the necessity of the Federal government? The worthies in DC would be reduced to merely performing their duties as mandated by that nasty right wing document - the Constitution.

Wade

Surprised about Alaska? It has been in the top 5 federal cash importers forever. This chronic welfare status amplified the hilarity of Sarah Palin's "go it alone" claims, not to mention the even more grandiose, even more ridiculous, fever dreams of the Alaska "Independence" Party.

George, I find your speculation that, given the chance to move to low tax, anti-union, low regulation environments, all the capital and wealth production capacity of the blue states would so forthwith, rather preposterous. Namely because such options *already* exist. Wall Street to Oklahoma? The 128 corridor to Alabama? Silicon Valley to the Tennessee Valley? Triangle Research Park to, er, the increasingly blue region encompassing Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill? Oh wait, it's already there... and, like Northern Virginia, is unlikely to reverse course and become more rigidly conservative anytime soon.

In short the great capitalist engines that drive our economy have long had ample opportunity to relocate to the laissez-faire-est, low tax, low service corners of the continent but have eschewed the move. Why is that? One need not await the Great Divide to seek more business-friendly" locales...

Simply put, New Jersey's GSP is not a moveable feast. And to the extent that it is, it will change it's environment not vice versa. Ask the residents of the Triangle.

George Rebane

And moving they are indeed Wade - California is probably Exhibit A. But I think your prognosis is about why more movement has not occurred is off the mark, there are many other prohibiting factors in today's set up. One of them, of course, is the rampant encroaching uniformity of federal laws - stand by for ram on California's AB32 spreading like a pandemic. Nevertheless, it is liberals like you who will make this a reasoned dialogue as I attempt to point out in my post. I just hope that I don't detect your desire to join the other left-wing cohort that would rather send us to the wall than discuss how to effect a peaceful Great Divide.

Am I correct in interpreting your response to say that the country is already set up to satisfy the right/left needs, and that little/no changes are required?

Wade

There is indeed some outflow of business from California. However, I do not foresee this having the sort of effect you're talking about i.e. some sort of grand reversal of the nation's highly productive, capitalist economies from blues states to red ones and, more importantly, the social conservatism and anti-tax, anti-labor, etc. policies of those red states remaining intact. Where go things like capital, Yankees, high degrees of education, etc. also goes the politics and policies of the highly productive economies. These things are not accidental bedfellows, chafing at their bonds, rather symbiotic socio-economic phenomena each facilitating the success and acceleration of the other. My exhibit A is, again, North Carolina's Triangle area.

Richard Florida's "Fast Cities" article in the current "Atlantic" [ http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200903/meltdown-geography ] does a good job explaining the capitalist successes of the urban ecosystem and the creative class. In short, it's not just low taxes and no unions that make flagship economic engines go.

Not sure how to interpret your final question, specifically "satisfy right/left needs." That seems to me overbroad given the focus of the discussion thus far. I do, however, believe that there exist currently in the US clear alternatives to the higher tax, relatively (to much of the country) organized, more regulated business environs of places like NYC, Rte 128, and San Jose. It is unsurprising that they have failed to lure biotech, software, media, advertising, finance, etc. and instead play host to extraction industries for example.

As far as the Great Divide, many of us are just as enthusiastic as you are. The following has been floating around the net for some time:

"Dear Red States:

We're ticked off at the way you've treated California and we've decided we're leaving.

We intend to form our own country and we're taking the other Blue States with us.

In case you aren't aware that includes Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and all the Northeast.

We believe this split will be beneficial to the nation and especially to the people of the new country of New California.

To sum up briefly:

You get Texas, Oklahoma and all the slave states.

We get stem cell research and the best beaches.

We get Elliot Spitzer. You get Ken Lay.

We get the Statue of Liberty. You get OpryLand.

We get Intel and Microsoft. You get WorldCom.

We get Harvard. You get Ole' Miss.

We get 85 percent of America's venture capital and entrepreneurs.
You get Alabama.

We get two-thirds of the tax revenue. You get to make the red states
pay their fair share.

Since our aggregate divorce rate is 22 percent lower than the Christian Coalition's we get a bunch of happy families. You get a bunch of single moms.

Please be aware that Nuevo California will be pro choice and anti war and we're going to want all our citizens back from Iraq at once. If you need people to fight ask your evangelicals. They have kids they're apparently willing to send to their deaths for no purpose and they don't care if you don't show pictures of their children's caskets coming home.

We wish you success in Iraq and hope that the WMDs turn up but we're not willing to spend our resources in Bush's Quagmire.

With the Blue States in hand we will have firm control of 80% of the country's fresh water, more than 90% of the pineapple and lettuce, 92% of the nation's fresh fruit, 95% of America's quality wines (you can serve French wines at state dinners) 90% of all cheese, 90 percent of the high tech industry, most of the US low sulfur coal, all living redwoods, sequoias and condors, all the Ivy and Seven

Sister schools plus Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Cal Tech and MIT.

With the Red States you will have to cope with 88% of all obese Americans and their projected health care costs, 92% of all US mosquitoes, nearly 100% of the tornadoes, 90% of the hurricanes, 99% of all Southern Baptists, virtually 100% of all televangelists, Rush

Limbaugh, Bob Jones University, Clemson and the University of Georgia.

We get Hollywood and Yosemite, thank you.

38% of those in the Red states believe Jonah was actually swallowed by a whale, 62% believe life is sacred unless we're discussing the death penalty or gun laws, 44% say that evolution is only a theory, 53% that Saddam was involved in 9/11 and 61% of you crazy bastards believe you are people with higher morals then we lefties.

We're taking the good pot too. You can have that dirt weed they grow in Mexico.

Sincerely,
Author Unknown in New California."

Wade

I forgot my big questions to you:

Is it the right-wingers contention that all the highly productive, successfully capitalist, economic engines of the nation happen to be located in the bluest of blue cities / states because of a) ongoing historical accident? b) widespread confusion about what's good for business? c) the dastardly yet near-total success of layabout liberals glomming on the fruits of hard-working conservatives while contriving at every turn to finally kill the golden goose? d) it's just too much of a hassle to relocate to a low tax, low regulation state?

and)

Since Washington's dirty big secret is that its primary function is the transfer of enormous wealth from Blue to Red, North to South, and Coast to Interior, how likely are the conservative parts to give up this gravy train to go it alone? It is all well and good for a grandstanding Bobby Jindal to "refuse" a small portion of the stimulus spending slated for his state but this draws into focus the inconvenient fact that the transfer of federal revenue into places like Louisiana is a longstanding, ongoing, annual affair rather than just the onetime, crisis-driven transfer that he so tepidly opposes.

Wade

Instead of the red-blue map you've got, try this cartogram, adjusted for population. It gives a much more accurate visual sense of the divided nation, that is, one divided among people rather than acreage... Blue Rhode Island is "bigger" than Red Alaska.

http://www.declanbutler.info/blog/Election/Small/2008.jpg

George Rebane

Wade, I thought I was more clear in my post about the Great Divide. I've seen the piece by 'Author Unknown', and he does not really get the idea of the Great Divide.

As far as the location of most current wealth generating enterprises, of course they're there because of historical reasons of commercial convenience. Who in hell would want to locate a financial center in Iowa during the early 1800s?!

But blue states were not always this blue, and that is crux of the issue. Into the armpits of the producers have also moved the preponderantly needy, uneducated, and dregs of society. We do maintain that it is their 'Paul' votes that actually turn those states blue and start the 'Peters' seeking alternatives. 'Author Unknown' plays fast and loose with his numbers to concoct a cute argument that misses the Great Divide notion.

Wade

This map is even better:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cartogram-2008_Electoral_Vote.png

George Rebane

Interesting maps, and I trust they support the left-wing point of view with regard to the way the country is and should be divided. The Great Divide refers more to people as individuals (perhaps better represented by proportional voting) more than the electoral college votes or assigning all of the real estate to one political persuasion because of current gerrymandering and election laws (which is the topic of another debate).

Less than two-thirds of the electorate voted, and of those about 53% went for Obama and about 47% for McCain. Without putting too fine a point on how many of those would actually migrate to which side, I don't think that the maps you point to contribute much to this discussion, they don't reflect this division because of their binary decision rule make-up. But I fully understand why one would embrace them to argue the collectivist cause.

Wade

The maps were presented as more accurate than the one at the top of the page, that is a better visual representation of "one man, one vote" vs. "one acre, one vote." They are not meant to be anything other than that. It is easy to see a lot of "red" in those empty counties in the middle but that is misleading.

I "embrace" them because they give proper visual weight (if somewhat indirectly) to cities. New York City is the population equivalent of 20 Wyomings (and the economic equivalent of 41 Wyomings), a fact that gets lost in a red vs. blue map that isn't weighted for population (not to mention the gross imbalance in political representation: 2 Senators to none, 1 Governor to none, etc.). If that is "left wing," than so be it; if NYC had 40 Senators, I doubt we'd be discussing the US as a "center-right" country for very much longer. But since 500,000 conservative welfare recipients trump 10,000,000 welfare donors in representation we end up with more 50-50 nonsense.

Is 53-47 close? Compared to 2004? 2000?

I understand why there weren't big financial centers in Iowa 200 years ago (I was being somewhat facetious). However these days I rather imagine that if it's feasible to move manufacturing plants across the world, surely we could move banking or media halfway across the country if we really wanted to?

Yes the "Author Unknown" piece is meant to be "cute" rather than wholly accurate. But I'm glad it elicited something I had not understood about your view of the blue states & cities: namely that they vote democratic because the educated and productive are outnumbered by the freeloading dregs of humanity who are curiously well organized politically. This comes as a surprise not only to me, but I'm sure as well to everyone I know in Boston, New York, and LA, most of whom are successfully employed in media, finance, advertising, the remainder belonging to the working class tradesetc, all of whom are well educated and vote Democratic. They (we) are aware that our voting habits align with the less educated / fortunate / hard-working but had no idea that we were being overwhelmed by them. Most of them / us see the wealth transfer game not as: wealthy NYC (against its will) supplying the dregs of NYC, but as you alluded to in this post: wealthy NYC (against its will) supplying the entire states of Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, etc, while getting lectured by same constantly about morality and economics (witness the stimulus debate, or the speeches of Sarah Palin).

Perhaps you could explain the Great Divide in greater detail?

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