Memo to Gov. Cuomo: It’s time for Congress to stop robbing New York state

This week, New York state passed a painful austerity budget, slashing billions of dollars in programs from hospitals, schools and other programs without raising taxes.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has made the argument that the Empire state is already taxed to the point of exhaustion, and that we have to make cuts rather than increase revenue.

But he’s wrong.  There is a massive source of new revenue out there that is going untapped, one that New Yorkers desperately need.

I’m talking about the Federal treasury.  And no, I’m not suggesting that Gov. Cuomo advocate for a hike in the Federal income tax.

But he should demand an end to the massive and shameful redistribution of taxpayer wealth.

The system now in place results in heavy taxation in states such as New York, New Jersey and California, with a wildly disproportionate amount of that money flowing into other low-tax states, such as Alaska and Wyoming.

According to the most recent parsable data that I could find — for 2004 — the average New Yorker paid $7,940 in Federal taxes.

But in that year the Federal government only spent roughly $6,200 per person in programs here, everything from Medicaid reimbursements to road and highway building to education funding.

What happened to the additional $1,700 per capita?  It went elsewhere, paying for programs and infrastructure in other states.

Some states have it even worse than New York.  New Jersey receives back only 61 cents for every dollar that their workers pay in Federal taxes.

Connecticut — the most highly taxed state in the nation — receives back only 69 cents on the dollar.

There was a time when this redistribution of wealth made sense.  America was a frontier nation.

Wealthy eastern states were helping to build the infrastructure — everything from the Tennessee Valley Authority to Hoover Dam to interstate highways — in parts of the country that were underdeveloped and struggling

But that era is long since over.  Many of the states that are now being stripped of Federal tax dollars, including New York, Illinois, California and New Jersey, are in crisis.

We desperately need every tax dollar as we rebuild our economies, our cities, our schools and our infrastructure.

There’s another, urgent reason to stop this unfair redistribution of wealth:  It would allow our cheated states to lower state income taxes to more equitable levels.

Because states such as Alaska, Mississippi, and New Mexico receive a lavish bounty in Federal spending (roughly $2 for every $1 that they pay in Federal taxes) they don’t have to raise state taxes to pay for their programs.

Why should they, when we’re picking up the tab?  Alaska — one of the biggest recipients of Federal cream — doesn’t even have a state income tax.

Which means that a state like New York is forced to compete for jobs and businesses with low-tax, high-benefit states — and we are forced to subsidize them in the process.

As Western New York crumbles, and once-proud cities like Buffalo continue to decline, this has to end.  We can no longer afford to build roads and high speed data lines and dams in other states, while our own crumble.

Governor Cuomo has proved with this state budget that he can win big fights.

It’s time for him to  rally New York state’s Congressional delegation — Republican and Democratic — and demand that New York state receive at least 90 cents on the dollar for our contribution to the Federal treasury.

The other ten percent should continue to go to non-state-specific spending, such as national defense, and border security.  That seems only fair, and responsible.

But it simply doesn’t wash for one out of every five Federal dollars taxed in New York to be siphoned away.

The stakes here are high, maybe even “transformational,” to borrow one of the governor’s favorite words.

According to my back-of-the-napkin-very-rough calculation, bringing our return-on-investment up to 90% would mean an additional $27 billion in Federal spending each year for the Empire state.

To put that in context, it’s nearly three times the amount of the state budget cuts that Albany just approved.

Sure, other states would feel the pinch if we bring more of our Federal dollars home.

But if they really want all those programs, all those new roads and bridges, teachers and hospitals, they can boost their own state income taxes and pick up the bill themselves.

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85 Comments on “Memo to Gov. Cuomo: It’s time for Congress to stop robbing New York state”

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  1. RationalandLogical says:

    I respectfully disagree. We need to break the constant stream of government dependency. We need to break the huge cash drain that has been created to fund this government complex. It is now dominating the narrative. It seems as though every discussion and and news article is written from the standpoint of “what can government do for me?”. To use an oft used term these as it is so trendy: “This is not sustainable!” For example the discussion of the millionaires tax has occurred using this narrative. It is presented as if the revenue started as government money that is now being given back to the rich. Please! Stop it! How have we got to this point? How have we got to the point to assume that this money will be more effectively used as tax revenue? How have we come to the assumed expectation that this is the government’s money? I respected John F. Kennedy, the details of his political philosophy have been skewed by the media but are no more accurately embodied than in his most famous phrase: “Ask not what your country can do for you. but what you can do for your country”. This is a fine and noble notion that is increasingly fading away. Let us take pride in our liberty to self-determine and self-direct. Restore work ethic, individualism and the fundamental premise that those who are industrious and creative aspire to wealth and prosperity.

  2. Brian Mann says:

    R&L –

    We’re agreeing more than disagreeing.

    If people had to pay taxes to cover the costs of the programs they receive, they would think twice about the value of those programs.

    But in much of the US, people don’t have to have those discussions.

    They’re getting their government services for free, thanks in large part to states like New York that are picking up the bill.

    (Much of the rest comes from borrowed money…)

    Again, I’m not suggesting that we raise taxes.

    I’m simply arguing that we receive at least 90% of the direct benefits from the taxes we pay.

    –Brian, NCPR

  3. Jim Bullard says:

    I’d vote for that.

  4. verplanck says:

    R&L – From a conservative standpoint, what can the people do to serve this country? How can everyone make this nation great again? I’d like to hear your thoughts about this.

  5. RationalandLogical says:

    Brian – understood and I am glad to be in agreement. I am just making the point that we need to shift the dialogue – less dependency AND be grateful of these liberties we have. Exploit these liberties, revel in them and not government hand-outs.

    With that said your point is well-taken and I have no problem with New Yorkers getting our fair share. But, we can make our state great again by diminishing dependence on the government and people doing for themselves.

  6. myown says:

    Brian’s info makes a very good point that is pertinent to some of the prior discussions that referenced NY State’s taxes being higher than many other states. Bingo – NY and similar states are subsidizing other states with Federal dollars. This imbalance of Federal funds allows those beneficial states to keep state taxes lower – which they brag about to entice individuals and businesses. This obviously doesn’t allow a level playing field and puts NY at a disadvantage. It’s also interesting that many of the states with a negative net return of Federal tax dollars are “blue” states while many of the most heavily subsidized states are “red”. Brian is right, Cuomo and all our Federal politicians representing NY should make it a priority to address this issue so that New Yorkers get back closer to what they pay into Federal taxes. According to Brian’s figures this means we could not only stop cutting teachers we could also cut state taxes.

  7. Pete Klein says:

    I respectfully agree.
    As to the idea that we need to depend less on the government, I need to ask, “in what areas?”
    Less road maintenance? Less protection from crime and terrorism? Less education? Maybe no more regulations on the quality of food, drugs, water quality, etc?
    It is easy to say “less dependency on government” but to what extent? Maybe all government workers including those who are elected to town, county, state and federal positions should quit their jobs and go live off the land? Maybe we can all go back to hunting, trapping and farming to provide everything we need to live?
    Unless we lower the population to what it was before the Revolutionary War, we would all starve to death and find ourselves in a kill or be killed situation until we brought our population down to where those remaining could play at being frontier men and women.
    We simply cannot have a small government with a large population. We need each other just to survive.

  8. RationalandLogical says:

    verplanck: I welcome the dialogue and I sincerely want to express my thanks to you for your question. My answers as best I can frame them are as follows:
    1. Be creative and pursue your passions, develop your career based on these pursuits. Whether it be entrepreneurial, academic or working as part of company team and most importantly we need to be grateful that we have these opportunities as subtle and seemingly meaningless as they are I think these have come to be taken for granted. Jobs are there, opportunities to start a business are there, assistance for education if needs be is there – it fundamentally requires and ethic to pursue these actions.
    2. Volunteer, donate and be part of the solution. Government programs need not be required to help people who are not capable of helping themselves as I describe above. There are numerous non-profits and associations and organizations for virtually any population in need that can be imagined. Be come engaged and apply your skills to broaden the solution.
    Now I understand that not everyone is a position to take advantage of these liberties. I have a special needs child with fairly severe autism. He will always be dependent on others for his day to day care. Programs rightfully exist for his permanent care. With that said, there is a significant and unfortunately growing number of people who do have the capacity for self-improvement but choose not to as an expectation has been created for the government to step in. These are the people I am appealing to. I encourage them to pause and consider their interests and their passions and pursue them. In the end and in total, society will be enriched and genuine prosperity – not that just measured in dollars – will be advanced.

  9. RationalandLogical says:

    Pete Klein… I will cite for you two small micro-casms as examples of where government should not be spending dollars. I heard a radio advertisement the other day and then I saw it repeated on television encouraging children to play and hour everyday. The commercial was developed and sponsored by the US Dept. of Health and Human Services. What? Are kidding me? What was the cost of producing this commercial? Why is this government’s role? Government needs to be telling our children to go out in play? I realize this is a small example but it is none the less indicative of a larger and problematic ideology.
    Also, do some research as to the number of housing assistance programs, in total, that exist between the state and federal governments. I briefly found a dozen overlapping programs for new home construction, housing rehabilitation, first-time home buyer assistance, rent subsidy assistance. How many do we need?
    As a larger consideration research the entitlements and see the waste. These a huge, untouchable programs that have been increasing in funding for years but yet the problems they are meant to solve grow faster. each year, poverty in America is at larger levels than ever before.

  10. Brian says:

    Doesn’t something like 70% of state revenue come from Wall St. (NYC)? I believe St. Lawrence County has the highest percentage of people on social assistance than any county in NYS. Be careful what you ask for. Downstaters might start demanding the same deal on a state-level.

  11. PNElba says:

    “With that said, there is a significant and unfortunately growing number of people who do have the capacity for self-improvement but choose not to as an expectation has been created for the government to step in.”

    Respectfully, this is a rather irrational and illogical statement. Specifically who makes up this significant group who “…have the capacity for self-improvement but choose not to…”.

    My daughter is working on a Master’s degree in counseling psychology at a major northeastern university (at a cost of $40,000 a year which she will pay because there is no magic government tuition support). She supports herself by substitute teaching in an inner city elementary/middle school. It is a war zone and the children are the casualties.

    How does a bright, young, 2nd grade girl “pursue her passions” when she likely is in one of the following situations: sexually molested, has no parents or drug using parents, has a parent or sibling that was murdered, lives in foster care, moved from foster home to foster home, come to school hungry, etc. etc. How exactly does this young girl learn a work ethic. That young girl and thousands like her are stuck in a cycle of poverty and dispair through no fault of their own. Where is the non-profit that is going to help these children? For that matter, how exactly is the federal government currently helping these children?

    Sure, let’s cut off housing and food support for the parents (usually a single mother). How does that help these children?

    As for children with special needs – the federal government requires local school boards to provide very expensive services for these students. And that is exactly how it should be. It is one of the reasons school taxes are so high because special education is expensive.

    As for the federal government encouraging children to go out an play – we have an epidemic of type 2 diabetes in this country that is costing us a needless fortune. Maybe going out and getting some exercise is a good idea.

  12. mervel says:

    What you are advocating is a flat tax for the federal income tax.
    NYS (and NJ and Connecticut) pays a whole bunch in federal income tax per-capita because we have a whole bunch very wealthy people living and earning in this state, since we have a progressive federal income tax structure which taxes these people at higher rates we pay more as a state. We also have a high degree of income inequality between wealthy New Yorkers and the bottom 20% of income earners in the state which skews the numbers even more.
    Now if every state just paid back exactly what it paid in on a per-capita basis there would be no need for the federal government to do anything. If everyone in the country simply paid a flat tax NYS would come out much better in these sorts of numbers. But as long as we have a progressive federal income tax system and as long as we have high levels of very wealthy people living in this state, we will always pay more than we get back. What it means is that this is not a good place to be a middle or lower income worker and never will be. I agree this situation really does hurt middle income New Yorkers. For example the statistics I have seen show that the bottom 20% of earners in NYS earn less than the bottom 20% in Nebraska. Yet Nebraska has a lower per-capita income, (fewer ultra-rich) and pays less per-capita in income taxes, just as an example of how the higher levels of income inequality in the East hurts average workers.

  13. RationalandLogical says:


    First of all you are attempting to frame an argument using assumptions that are on the larger scale and fortunately in the minority. Under the example you cite there are a number of severe assumptions that are not representative of the vast majority cases where programs are abused and a culture of dependency is created. A culture who’s cost is not sustainable. I could “create” hypothetical scenarios that support my premise as well.

    And the idea that it is government’s role to tell kids to go out and play is absurd!!!! It is astounding how someone can support such intrusion into our lives! It is not the government’s role nor should it be.

    At what point is one individually responsible for their station in life? You cite the persons in poverty. Employment opportunities exist to raise standards of living. It will be hard and difficult, it will take time but in the end genuine improvement can be achieved.

  14. dbw says:

    Brian 10:11 is very right. Here is the an article from the Watertown Times from quite a few years back. I don’t think any of us would be surprised if these figures were higher now. What would the North country be like if we operated only off our own tax revenue.

    Watertown Daily Times (NY) – Sunday, December 26, 1993
    Author: Eric Durr Times Albany Correspondent
    When it comes to state money, the north country definitely receives far more than it gives.

    New York is spending four times more in Jefferson, St. Lawrence, Lewis and Franklin counties than it takes in, a Watertown Daily Times survey shows.

    State figures on 1992-93 spending in the four counties show New York government spent $2,360 for every man, woman and child, while taking in only about $535 in fees, taxes and fines.

    At least $695,081,119 was spent in the region in grants, state education aid, Medicaid and welfare payments, salaries and state purchases, according to figures provided by state agencies.

    Meanwhile, New York raised $157,612,664 reported to the Watertown Times from the four counties in taxes and fees during the same period. There was at least $537,468,455 more state aid coming into the region during the period from April 1992 to March 1993 than was sent to Albany.

    The actual figure is higher because most fees collected by the Department of State, for such things as hair styling licenses, coin washer and dryer inspections and boiler inspections, cannot be tracked geographically, said William Brown, the department's spokesman.

    Excise taxes on fuel, liquor and tobacco, passed onto area consumers by retailers cannot be estimated either, said Karl E. Felsen, spokesman for the Department of Taxation and Finance. The taxes are paid by wholesalers at the point of origin and it is impossible to determine what amount of those taxes residents in each county ultimately pay, he said.

    Even taking these variables into account, the north country is a net gainer when it comes to state dollars.

    The impact of those dollars on the area economy is even greater because most of the dollars change hands in the area a couple of times.

    The Department of Economic Development has no standard figure to use when determining how many times a given dollar changes hands, said Bern Rotman, spokesman for the department.

    However, Potsdam State College economics Professor Ram Chugh, in calculating the economic impact of money spent by Potsdam College and its students, estimated that the direct economic impact of $33 million is multiplied 1.9 times as money changes hands. That multiplier, for example, means Potsdam College's final economic impact in its immediate region is $65 million, Mr. Chugh said.

    Using Mr. Chugh's 1.9 figure to multiply the $537.4 million net gain in state money realized by Jefferson, St. Lawrence, Lewis and Franklin counties in 1992-93 would mean that the final economic impact of state dollars in the four counties was $1,021,060,000, or 1.02 billion.

    State education aid to the tune of $244,714,851, and State Police spending of $10,495,380 offsets the need for north country communities to raise property taxes to pay all of the education tab or provide police protection in rural areas. The state Education Department's $244,714,851 was the largest contribution to the four counties' economy in 1992-93. The Department of Correctional Services came in second by spending $219,087,809.67 on payrolls and purchases at prisons in St. Lawrence, Jefferson and Franklin counties in 1992-93.

    The Department of Social Services spent $55,257,043 on the state share of welfare and Medicaid payments, while the Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities spent $84.1 million in the region.

    Among the four counties the big winner in 1992-93 was Franklin County.

    New York state government spent $236,110,611 in the county, while collecting $21,718,323 reported to the Watertown Times. The state spent 10.87 times more than it collected, a total difference of $214.39 million.

    The Department of Correctional Services spent $138,913,983.99 at prisons in the county, the Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disability spent $40.4 million, mostly at Sunmount Developmental Center in Tupper Lake, and the State Education Department sent $38,722,157 to area schools.

    Per capita, county residents shipped off $493 to Albany and got $5,359.69 in return. St. Lawrence County also did fairly well in 1992-93, if the ratio of tax and fee dollars is considered as an investment and return formula.

    The state raised $56,543,986 in the county during that period, while spending $235,562,673 – 4.16 times more than was collected.

    The State Education Department sent $92,902,902 to St. Lawrence County schools, the Department of Correctional Services spent $48,249,639.35, and the Office of Mental Health spent $26,323,381 at St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center and related facilities. The State University of New York spent another $24,451,038 at Canton Technical College and Potsdam State College, While the Department of Social Services sent $20,421,933 into the county.

    The per capita breakdown is $2,124.33 in spending vs. $509.92 in taxes. In Lewis County during fiscal 1992-93, the state spent money at 3.2 times the rate it was raised.

    New York state took in $10,156,250 in fees, fines and taxes, while spending $32,577,045 within the county. Per person, that's $366.62 in taxes and fees vs. $1,175.98 in spending.

    State Education Department money totaled $24,470,420, while the Department of Social Services provided $4,852,861 in Medicaid and welfare costs. The State Police, meanwhile, spent $1,117,997 providing police protection to the county.

    Jefferson County's rate of return in 1992-93 on taxes, fines and fees was 2.52 times the money raised by the state, according to agency figures.

    The state raised $66,528,290 in the county while spending $167,365,763, according to information furnished to the Watertown Times. This works out to $595.25 sent to the state and $1,499.88 returned to the county per person.

    Education aid was again the biggest item, with $88,619,372 going to county schools. The Department of Correctional Services spent $31,924,186.33 and the Department of Social Services sent $19,837,567 to the county. The Department of Health spent $8,110,459 in salaries and aid in Jefferson County.

    In compiling these figures state agencies were asked to provide information on payrolls, aid and grants, purchases contracts and budgets for installations within the four counties. Information on estate, sales and inheritance taxes was provided by the Department of axation and Finance. Other agencies, like the Department of Motor Vehicles, the State Liquor Authority and the Department of Environmental Conservation provided geographical breakdowns, when possible, on fees and fines.

    A figure for the $50 business fee collected annually by the Department of State was computed by using Department of Economic Development statistics on businesses in each county.

  15. PNElba says:

    R and L – Again, how about some specifics on the “vast majority of cases where programs are abused and a culture of dependency is created?” How about some specific ideas on how genuine improvement can be achieved? Where exactly are these jobs for inner city single mothers that will raise their standards of living. And, I do not cite the “persons in poverty”…. I cite the child who is being raised in a cycle of poverty and is unlikely to find their way out of poverty.

  16. dbw says:

    I do agree with Brian’s point. NYS is a wealthy state be bleed by smaller poorer states. At one point I read we are sending $89,000,000,000 more to Washington than we get back.

  17. Bret4207 says:

    PNE, where are the gov’t programs that are fixing the problems you outlined? We began the Great Society in the 60’s and billions later we have nothing to show for it. In fact, things are worse. So should we continue to throw good money after bad?

    Smaller gov’t- Yes, we can! The National Defense, postal service, general infrastructure, Treasury, etc. are obviously vital and need to remain but they also need to be far more responsive and efficient. We have made promises to our Seniors and Veterans that have to be honored. Beyond that it’s open season. We can all sit here and say, “We can;t do without ______!!!!” Well, actually we probably can. We don’t need to let people starve in the streets, but at the same time I would imagine many of us are a little tired of seeing the benefit cared swiped for amounts and types of food we couldn’t swing. There are plenty of places we can cut and we can get along just fine with a smaller Federal Gov;t, and I think a smaller State gov’t too. There is an economy of scale that comes into play at a certain point and there is also a lack of economy after things get too large.

    Brian M, I like your thinking, but I agree with R+L that the request shouldn’t be for more of our money back in Federal spending, but that less of our money should bee taken in the first place.

  18. Mcculley says:

    I think all of you miss the point the residents of New York state have been voting for redistribution of wealth, politicians for 60 years. The fact that the federal government redistributes NY’s wealth far more than other states, shouldn’t bother New Yorker’s in the least.

  19. PNElba says:

    Bret4207 – I asked exactly the same question. “where are the gov’t programs that are fixing the problems you outlined?”

    Of course the problem I outlined was a seven year old girl living in a cycle of poverty through no fault of her own. A little girl that will grow up to be like her mother and father, costing us millions of dollars.

    As far as I can tell there are no government programs directed at these children or for that matter very little nonprofit help either. I’m simply asking R & L for more specifics on his solution to the cycle of poverty problem.

    “At what point is one individually responsible for their station in life?” Good question! I’ll ask my daughter to ask the little second grade girl that very question.

  20. Peter Hahn says:

    Even leaving aside the question of whether we as a society have a moral responsibility to look out for a 7 year old child in danger, the government has a fiduciary responsibility to save tax-payer money. If that means funding child-protective services so that a child can grow up to be a productive member of society then the money is well spent. Similarly, a few pennies spent trying to get children to exercise, may save millions on health care for diabetics. Certainly, tobacco smoking causes expenses for all of us who dont smoke, and we could simply make it illegal. Instead we spend millions on advertising campaigns to try to get people to voluntarily quit (or not stop). Same thing with illegal drugs (just say no, etc). This isnt government not minding its own business, or government wasting taxpayer money.

  21. Peter Hahn says:

    should be quit (or not start).

  22. Peter Hahn says:

    But Brian’s argument is that we should stop subsidizing those dead-beat low-tax states is a good one.

  23. oa says:

    “We began the Great Society in the 60’s and billions later we have nothing to show for it.”
    Bret, let me Google that for you:
    From the 1999 article:
    “Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, from 1963 when Lyndon Johnson took office until 1970 as the impact of his Great Society programs were felt, the portion of Americans living below the poverty line dropped from 22.2 percent to 12.6 percent, the most dramatic decline over such a brief period in this century.”
    In 1999, poverty was about 13 percent. It has risen since the recession started.

  24. Mervel says:

    The point of worrying about per-capita federal taxes versus per-capita subsidy from the federal government is not relevant. As long as we have a progressive income tax system states with more wealthy people will always send more to Washington than comes back on a per-capita basis.

    If we simply said every state should get back from Washington exactly the same amount that was sent, what would be the point of the federal government? Why not just cut out the middle man and have each state take totally care of itself?

    The reason that these smaller states have higher per-capita federal spending is often due to things like military bases. Look at a place like North Dakota for example. You have a major Air Force Base which contains our nuclear bomber fleet. North Dakota has a population of about 650,000 total people, in the whole state. Smaller than Syracuse in an area larger than NYS. So if you plop a major air force base in the middle of the state you are going to really skew the per-capita federal spending. Then you throw in farm subsidies and they look as if they get a lot, and they do. But there is nothing to be done.

    I suppose you could have our Congressional delegation push to reduce farm subsidies and close Minot and move that function to Drum. That is what we are talking about to make this stuff more even. It is not some sort of quick fix and is politically impossible and really has nothing to do with local taxes. It is just the system that we have.

  25. erb says:

    I just watched The Inside Job the other night. It painted a very obvious picture of the link between the mess we’re in now, and the almost 30 year drive towards deregulation. In other words, it’s not too many government programs, it’s not the ‘nanny state’ that has brought us to this pass, it’s giving banks and other large institutions what they wanted: less oversight into their operations. You could call it “smaller government.”

    This gives lie to the idea that we can and will all pitch in to make our society work if we just get government out of the way. What really happens is that the powerful feed on the weak, everyone takes care of their own (but not anyone else) and corporations hide their profits offshore.

  26. Pete Klein says:

    To Peter Hahn
    I smoke cigarettes. I am not anyone’s burden. In fact, at 69 and after smoking 2 packs per day since the Navy taught me the joys of smoking, I still work every day and hike when I have the time.
    You should be thanking me for all the taxes I pay to smoke.
    I wish they used those tax dollars for education instead of waisting them on advertising that is supposed to get me to stop smoking when those ads actually remind me it is time to light up another cigarette.
    The same thing happened when I read your post.

  27. RationalandLogical says:

    PNE as I see this discussion unfold it is absolutely apparent that there is no reasoning with such a strident and unyielding ideology. You go ahead keep enabling a system that does not encourage the individual to take care if their own needs. Your constant diatribe about the “little 2nd grade girl “with no programs to help her is not true. There are programs for these deserving and relatively small number of cases. Child protective services exist to aid these children in need. I personally know of several children that have been adopted and mainstreamed into a family setting. But the real problem exists with the parenting as you reference. The parents are ill-equipped to serve their role as a mother or father. Drug abuse, molestation or outright neglect they have proven not to have the dedication needed to care for their own children. But why do you suppose? Is it do to lack of a government program to instruct them how to be responsible role models for their children? Do we need more social workers to staff classrooms for them to attend? Is that your solution? Perhaps give the parents more housing subsidy? The real answer is no. These are not the answers. By the time they are parents in this condition they have lost the chance to parent. They do not have the skills as it has never been part of their culture. That goes to my point. The ethic needs to be instilled to have this sense of responsibility so the children of the succeeding generation do not live in the circumstance you describe. We need to end the enabling. Furthermore, as the budgets at every government level are in the red it is quickly becoming evident that we cannot afford it. It would be nice if we could cloth, feed and house everyone in need and in poverty but we simply cannot. I do not make this point maliciously or to simply say “no”. It is an economic fact that we need to have a productive work force that supplies their own means to provide these basic needs.

  28. PNElba says:

    “By the time they are parents in this condition they have lost the chance to parent. They do not have the skills as it has never been part of their culture. That goes to my point.”

    No, that is my entire point. And I’m am saying it is too late to instill the ethic of responsibility in the parents without harming the children.

    “But why do you suppose? Is it do to lack of a government program to instruct them how to be responsible role models for their children?”

    No, I believe it is due to a cycle of poverty that is difficult to break out of. I think I may have said that at least once. I haven’t suggested increased staffing of classrooms or providing free clothing, food, and housing to everyone in need and in poverty. I’m still talking about a cycle of poverty and believe that ignoring the situation is going to cost us far more in crime and unproductive workers than attempting to solve the problem.

    “The ethic needs to be instilled to have this sense of responsibility so the children of the succeeding generation do not live in the circumstance you describe. We need to end the enabling.”

    Ok, so take away the food stamps and housing subsidies from the single parent with children. That should end the enabling of the parent ….and put them out in the street. Again, how does this help the child?

    “Your constant diatribe about the “little 2nd grade girl “with no programs to help her is not true. There are programs for these deserving and relatively small number of cases.”

    I take offense at you calling me a liar. I’m an on the phone with my daughter several times a week hearing about these children. They are not a relatively small number of cases – just the opposite. In her school they make up a small majority of the student population.

    As for child protective services, they are a joke in the inner city and cause almost as much trauma to the child as leaving them with their parent.

    I admit to not having the solution, but feel we need to keep trying to find one. Your solution seems to be we can’t afford to do anything. I may be “strident” and, unlike you, have an “unyielding ideology”, but I least I have a heart, a conscience, and a belief that we are a great enough nation that we don’t have to ignore impoverished children.

  29. PNElba says:

    BTW R&L…I’m interested in how you determine exactly who are the “deserving” children?

  30. Walker says:

    Right, PNE, and how do we reduce the number of undeserving children if we are going to cut Planned Parenthood funding. Ah, I bet the answer is the parents taking personal responsibility.

  31. Paul says:


    Why should my federal tax dollars not go to another state that may need them more than I do? You are assuming that they don’t need the funds. Is that really true? We need them partially because we are wasting money, maybe some other states have a genuine need, or they have a program that we could all benefit from that we should be paying them more for?

  32. Paul says:

    “I’m simply arguing that we receive at least 90% of the direct benefits from the taxes we pay. ”

    To help make my point, don’t we perhaps receive direct benefits from the extra”money that goes to other states? Many states are much better than NY for getting a bang for your tax buck. NYS is like a big rats hole for some things.

  33. Walker says:

    I suspect that the reason that these little states get so much more than they give has to do with the fact that, while it is less expensive to mount a campaign in a small state, their senators have exactly the same clout as senators from big states. So, they get re-elected year after year, growing in seniority until they control powerful committees, and then they start pulling in the pork.

    Our senate is a dreadful holdover from the British House of Lords. It’s one of those things that really ought to be changed, but I fear it is set in stone by now.

    You’d think the Tea Party folk would be against it: it’s very much not We The People, except that a lot of small state senators seem to be Conservatives of one stripe or another. Then of course, there’s Bernie!

  34. Walker says:

    I don’t know, Paul, I think most pork is just plain pork. Have you ever seen those divided highway style back roads in Georgia where they look like an interstate but they have mailboxes on them?! Then there’s the famous Bridge to Nowhere in Alaska. Tip O’Neill’s Big Dig in Massachusetts provides a Democratic example.

    I’d love to be proven wrong. Anyone care to nominate a case where a seemingly disproportionate spending in a small state is returning a lean, efficient result that us hefty states would be hard-pressed to match?

  35. myown says:

    “BTW R&L…I’m interested in how you determine exactly who are the “deserving” children?”

    And there is the rub. One person’s essential government service is another’s waste of tax payer dollars. Who is more or less deserving – an autistic child with special needs or a 7 year old inner city child living in a debilitating environment? We need to realize there are millions of different realities out there where help from a public program could make an important difference in someone’s life. We should not judge tax payer funded programs based on our own needs, political ideology or religious preferences.

    And don’t tell me we don’t have the money when we just extended the Bush-era tax cuts for families making more than $250,000 and passed an estate tax cut that benefits only the top quarter of one percent of earners. This adds $69.5 billion to the deficit each year. Meanwhile House Republicans want to cut $61 billion from important social programs. Hypocrisy! When the wealthy finally join in the sacrifices the poor and middle class are being asked to make then we can talk about what we can and cannot afford.

  36. Paul says:

    “I’d love to be proven wrong. Anyone care to nominate a case where a seemingly disproportionate spending in a small state is returning a lean, efficient result that us hefty states would be hard-pressed to match?”

    Oh no, here we go again!

  37. phahn50 says:

    What is an undeserving child? Is such a thing possible?

  38. Paul says:

    Don’t have the time right now, but having lived in Colorado I tend to think that there are some states that have their act together more than our efficient machine here in NYS. I could be wrong.

  39. Pete Klein says:

    Let’s see.
    Does anyone deserve to inherit wealth, good looks or health?
    Does anyone deserve to be born in America?

  40. Mervel says:

    Payments to poor people are not what is causing this problem. NYS has many very wealthy people, they might like to talk and talk about the poor, but this is an elitist state. It is the reason that places like Texas have better public colleges than we do.

    The bottom line is that most government services are not helping the poor. So they are not the problem.

    Many states are run better than NYS, that is not even in dispute. This is a corrupt place.

  41. tootightmike says:

    I don’t believe that New Yorkers are supporting those other states. I think that if we were to visit some low population western state this year, we would find the same budget woes, cutbacks, and complaints we have here.
    We New Yorkers ARE supporting the “Military Industrial Complex” however. The money is going into expensive adventures around the world and directly into the pockets of “contractors” like Halliburton and Blackwater. It’s being delivered by the trainload to places like Boeing and to small and medium sized dictatorships around the world.
    So yes, maybe New York is carrying a disproportionate share of the load…but it’s not being spent in South Dakota to build a high speed rail.

  42. Bret4207 says:

    OA- all depends on your perspective I suppose-

    We’ve spent trillions on the programs LBJ started. The true costs are had to nail down, some sources say just under a trillion to some claiming over 50 trillion. Who knows? How would you even figure it all out? What I can see clearly is we’ve spent enormous sums of money, and promised to spend even more, to fix a set of problems. Those problems are no more “fixed” today than they were when LBJ decided he had the answer. If anything, many of the problems are even worse than they were before. Dependency on gov’t, medical costs, broken families and fatherless children, urban crime and drug use, poor housing, the list is endless. The goals were good, that we could pull the poor up to a better level and create a better society. The results are dismal, and there’s no end to it now. We’ve created a monster that will feed off us in perpetuity.

  43. Bret4207 says:

    I have an example of people breaking out of the cycle of poverty in my in laws, and they certainly aren’t alone. They grew up with NOTHING, worked hard, got some education and became lower middle class. All 5 of their kids attended college and have at least Masters degrees. It can be done.

    As for the poor little 7 year old girl in foster care in those horrible conditions, why don’t some of you stop talking and DO something about it? ADOPT HER! Give her a better life and a chance. There are many, many kids out there in foster care that need love and parenting. If you are so damned concerned about the poor kids then why aren’t you doing something? If we can take in foster kids and adopt I’m pretty sure most everyone else here can too. If more folks would take in 1 or 2 kids there wouldn’t be a foster kid problem where they grow up to continue the cycle. But no, it’s a lot easier to whine about it and demand tax dollars be raised to let gov’t “fix” the problem!

    This is pledge week. Well, I’m not donating to NCPR but I am raising 2 adopted foster kids. That’s where my NCPR support dollars are going instead of paying Brians salary. So I’m challenging all of you to step up to the plate and put your money, time and love where your mouth is- get the training, jump through the hoops and take in some foster kids, love them, adopt them, make a true difference.

  44. RationalandLogical says:

    PNE I take great offense at your comments. Who are you to know where my heart lies? Who are to make such unfounded and utterly ridiculous accusations? I do care but in meaningful and my suggestion to improve the situation ios meaningful and profound. People’s lives turn out best when they take their direction and are motivated by their own needs and circumstance. You say Child protective Services are a joke in the inner city yet these programs originated from the very ideology that you advocate. My position is to instill work ethic and pride in one’s self. That is what makes this country truly exceptional. Enabling a pattern of social behavior where one does not take responsibility one’s own behavior is a recipe for societal decline. Yes directly help the young girl that is experiencing the living conditions you describe. But correspondingly the young adult that has consciously chosen a path of drug abuse is not deserving of assistance that will only enable the behavior to continue. as I final point I am as strident as you, if not more so. It is most entertaining and fulfilling to participate in the blogs of an NPR radio station as the listeners of this station and those like it need to hear this opposing view. I believe in the capacity of the individual to self-direct, to make better their station in life. This is our make sacred liberty because remember the constitution provides protection life, liberty and the PURSUIT of happiness. Happiness itself is not protected but the desire to pursue it is and there in lies the point. The degree to which is pursued is rightly left up to the individual.

  45. RationalandLogical says:

    PNE more to my point – this is excerpt from this morning’s Wall Street Journal:

    “If you want to understand better why so many states—from New York to Wisconsin to California—are teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, consider this depressing statistic: Today in America there are nearly twice as many people working for the government (22.5 million) than in all of manufacturing (11.5 million). This is an almost exact reversal of the situation in 1960, when there were 15 million workers in manufacturing and 8.7 million collecting a paycheck from the government.

    It gets worse. More Americans work for the government than work in construction, farming, fishing, forestry, manufacturing, mining and utilities combined. We have moved decisively from a nation of makers to a nation of takers. Nearly half of the $2.2 trillion cost of state and local governments is the $1 trillion-a-year tab for pay and benefits of state and local employees. Is it any wonder that so many states and cities cannot pay their bills?”

  46. Walker says:

    Mike, a lot of the Military Industrial Complex money IS pork-barrel spending directed specifically to the benefit of particular states. When Congress insists on funding military hardware that the Defense Department has specifically said it doesn’t want, as happened recently, that’s pork designed to benefit a senator’s district.

    New Mexico leads the pack, getting back $2.03 from the federal government for each dollar it’s citizens pay in income tax, with Mississippi close behind, at $2.02 for each dollar paid in. Alaska gets $1.84 per dollar paid in. Louisiana is fourth, though that is clearly the result of the hurricane: it used to rank around tenth. West Virginia is fifth, at $1.76.

    Unranked, but at the top of the list, is the district of Columbia, at $5.50.

    Data is from 2005, source:

  47. Walker says:

    R&L, I’m not surprised to find the WSJ twisting it’s numbers to reach pre-ordained conclusions. First, let’s recall that between 1960 and today, the population of the US has grown by more than 70%.

    Then, consider the implication that everyone not engaged in “construction, farming, fishing, forestry, manufacturing, mining and utilities” is a “Taker”.

    So according to the WSJ, all service industry employees are takers. It goes without saying that those who teach our children, whether in public or private settings, are Takers. Police, fire, health workers: all Takers. Interestingly, according to that list, all of Wall Street, the banksters and hedge fund managers, Takers All (not that I necessarily disagree, in this last case, but the WSJ does seem to be lumping them in with the non-productive members of society, along with waitresses and garage mechanics.) Interesting!

  48. oa says:

    “Don’t have the time right now, but having lived in Colorado I tend to think that there are some states that have their act together more than our efficient machine here in NYS. I could be wrong”

    You are. Colorado is just as corrupt as NYS, just in different ways. In fact, Colorado’s setting a cool precedent to poison our well water!

  49. PNElba says:

    Bret, don’t concern yourself about not donating to NCPR. Things are a bit tight for us too, but I doubled our donation to cover you too. No thanks required.

    R&L says “Who are to make such unfounded and utterly ridiculous accusations?”

    Actually I don’t see where I made any accusations concerning you. However, I’m still seriously interested in how you determine exactly who are the “deserving” children?

    So we need to somehow get through to those young kids that they need to acquire some of that godly, conservative, personal responsibility that I hear so much about (but see so little of). Still haven’t heard how to do that other than by adopting the kids. Of course the parent or parents of those kids may object to us adopting them without their permission.

    As for manufacturing jobs going overseas. Just who supported the free trade policies that encouraged sending jobs overseas? “Lowering barriers to trade creates more and better jobs, and higher wages.”

    There is a really simple way to get manufacturing up and running again in the USA. Get rid of unions and lower wages. While we are at it, lower the wages of police, firemen, the military…. all government workers. Make them pay for their fair share of health insurance and retirement. Renege on the retirement agreements we have with current government retirees. They didn’t pay their fair share for retirement so why feel obligated to keep our agreement with them. Get rid of government regulations on big finance, we can trust them to do the right thing and keep our economy strong.

    And lastly, listen to the opinions of Steve Moore, the guy who has been called “a voodoo economist … [who uses] especially devious methods to torture the data”.

  50. Paul says:

    oa, Yes fracking is an issue in NYS and in Colorado (and other places). That is another issue. But that is a good point, maybe there is a greater need for federal dollars to oversee gas drilling in Colorado than in NYS based on the amount of drilling that would go on there. My point is that I think there are probably things that NYS can do well and their are probably things that other states can do well with federal dollars. So it is not that surprising to me that some states might get a disproportionate amount of federal tax money.

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