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By Mike Hudson

There's not a week that goes by here at the Niagara Falls Reporter that we don't get our fair share of hate mail.

Sometimes it's locally generated but, more often than not, it originates in what are commonly referred to these days as the "Red States." The writers have apparently stumbled across the paper on the Internet and become outraged at what they interpret to be our liberal, left-leaning, godless bias.

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Perhaps they ran a Google search on "Rush Limbaugh" and "addled drug addict" or "Bill Bennett" and "degenerate gambler." Our name is more likely to come up if you type in "George Bush" and "moron."

The fact that we publish in New York -- or "Jew-York" as some wags south of the Mason-Dixon line would have it -- doesn't help.

There are, apparently, a lot of people living to the south and west who think of the Empire State as pretty much a suburb of New York City. In their mind's eye, they picture me and Staba, Bruce and the Redhead sipping lattes somewhere on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and it makes them mad.

Mean mad.

They tell us they're going to kill us or that we need to get right with God.

They say we should be ashamed of ourselves for electing Hillary Clinton as our senator.

They characterize our viewpoints as being to the left of Teddy Kennedy's, completely oblivious to the fact that we kind of take that as a compliment.

But if there is one common thread in these letters, be they from Florida or Mississippi or Texas or Utah, it's that we here in New York aren't faring as well, economically, as they are.

We have the highest state and local taxes, they point out, blaming it on our godless, liberal social welfare policies. The taxes, they say, are what's driving industry out of the Northeast and upper Midwest down into the welcoming arms of Dixie. They're quick to tell you that the unemployment problems we are experiencing are a natural consequence of the tax-and-spend policies of the Democrats we've elected to office.

Which hadn't struck me as all that far-fetched.

Who can deny the go-go economy of, say, North Carolina when compared New York or New Jersey?

So I was glad last week to hook up with the Tax Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization formed by a group of businessmen in 1937 to combat what they viewed as the massive federal tax increases enacted by President Franklin Roosevelt.

Liberal they're not.

The Tax Foundation keeps track of the amount of federal income tax paid by individual and corporate taxpayers in each of the 50 states, and then figures out how much on the dollar the various states get back.

Here in New York, for example, we get back 80 cents for every dollar we send to Washington.

New Jersey taxpayers get back 57 cents.

In John Kerry's home state of Massachusetts -- "Taxa-chusetts," George W. Bush sneered -- they receive a return of 78 cents on the dollar.

Few of the "Blue States" get as much back from the federal government as they pay.

The Red States do, though.

They get it back and then some.

All those Republicans up in Alaska get $1.89 for every dollar they send to Washington, nearly double.

The Bible-thumpers down in West Virginia cost us $1.86 on the dollar, and those self-reliant cowboys out in Montana rake in $1.60.

While the Mormon religion places strictures on its members accepting government money in the form of public assistance, it turns out that the whole damn state of Utah is on welfare, receiving $1.20 for every dollar they put in.

According to the Tax Foundation study, every one of the Red States gets as much or more than it pays, with the exception of Nevada.

In other words, the 20 cents New Yorkers don't get back, the 43 cents our neighbors in New Jersey don't get back, the 22 cents Massachusetts taxpayers don't get back and all the money people living in Wisconsin, Washington, New Hampshire, Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois, Connecticut and California don't get back goes to fund the thriving, God-fearing, gay-bashing, morally superior economies of the South and West.

Shortchanged state and local governments in the Blue States are forced to make up the difference, which goes a long way toward explaining why our property, sales and income taxes are so high.

Don't get me wrong. I don't mind when some cretinous Bill O'Reilly fan e-mails me with his thoughts regarding my race and sexuality, then closes by saying he prays for the deaths of my entire family.

I just wish I wasn't paying for his Internet connection.


Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com Nov. 16 2004