Paul D. Hauck: Just how bad are the Blue states?
It seems to have become sport for the president and some media outlets to vilify states that are primarily populated by Democrats. To hear them, one would think that not one blue state is worth living in. So, how bad are they?
It’s not difficult to compile ranked lists of states on any variable one chooses. You can rank them on health (longevity, smoking or obesity rates), wealth (median income or per capita net worth), education level (percent with college degrees or mean educational attainment), productivity (per capita state gross domestic product), or violence (per capita violent crime rates).
If you go through this exercise you discover that the top 10 healthiest, wealthiest, best educated, most productive and least violent states are almost entirely Democrat-led. The sickest, poorest, least well educated, least productive and most violent states? Governed almost entirely by Republicans.
And blue states are generous to the country. Of the eight states that contribute more in federal tax dollars than they receive in federal benefits, sometimes by huge amounts, six of these are blue. Red state residents should probably temper their disdain with at least a tad of appreciation.
For all the criticism Democratic states get for being “anti-business” — and it’s true that in blue states, businesses don’t always get everything they would like to have — these are states where businesses continue to thrive and where private capital tends to be invested.
Venture capital, the private equity that wealthy investors provide to startup companies and small businesses that they believe will have long-term growth potential, totaled $136 billion in 2019 nationwide. Of this almost half ($65 billion) went to California companies. New York ($21 billion) and Massachusetts ($11 billion) rounded out the top three — all very blue and together accounted for 71% of all venture capital invested in the country. Texas makes it onto the list at No. 5, behind another blue state, Washington. Clearly, the smart money trusts blue states’ prospects.
For what it’s worth, all of the 10 states with the lowest rates of teen pregnancy are blue. According to U.S. News and World Report, the top 10 universities in the country reside in blue states. Not sure what the connection there might be.
There is, of course, a price to be paid for all these benefits. Indeed, ranking states by their combined income, property, and sales taxes as a share of income per capita shows that nine of the 10 states with the lowest state tax burdens are red, and nine of the 10 most heavily taxed are blue states. Being more likely to have large urban populations, they must address affordability of housing and homelessness and contend with wide disparities in wealth and income. Blue states are somewhat more likely to be communitarian. That is, they are more likely to be willing to sacrifice personal resources or freedoms for the greater good, so there is that cost.
But on balance, as the red state-blue state divide goes, I’ll opt for health, wealth, knowledge, productivity and safety, and gladly pay for the privilege.
Paul D. Hauck lives in Penn Valley.
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“You’ve heard me say this before: Every acre can and will burn someday in this state” — Cal Fire Director Thom Porter.