Alabam-dammit! I’m a little frustrated with the Yellowhammer State this morning. That’s what they call it, the Yellowhammer State. This is not why I’m frustrated. There’s the whole commandments-shaped-rock-in-the-courthouse issue as well, the most widely reported but least interesting point of crisis for separation of church and state. But that ain’t my boggle.
In yesterday’s statewide vote, Alabamians rejected a $1.2 billion tax increase, with about 67 percent against. This is the Alabama with the lowest funding for education in the U.S. This is the Alabama whose tax code, which requires a constitutional amendment to change, taxes its wealthiest about three percent and its poorest about 12. This is the Alabama that starts taxing family income at $4600 but can’t seem to get much tax dough from wealthy landowners, the sprawling timber industry, and other parties rich enough to sacrifice a bit more for the greater good.
The unlikely champion of Alabama’s tax increase was its gun-supportin’, anti-abortion, anti-gay, conservative Christian soon-to-be-former governor, Bob Riley – whose new nicknames among his republican colleagues might include “traitor” and “deadboy.” His campaign was the most visible manifestation of an odd little eddy in the religious right that sees helping the poor and desperate in society as a Christian duty worth the heresy of higher taxes. The Christian Coalition, with the exception of its Alabama chapter, supported the campaign.
And they tried to reach the African-American community, which seems to have shown some support. And they tried to reach the state’s poor and somehow get across a crucial message: not only are we not raising your taxes, many of you won’t have to pay taxes anymore at all. Didn’t work, though. With that much opposition, most of the people whose families would have benefited most must surely have been at the polls voting no.
Is it because of the state’s crummy, broken old school systems, is it because the poor are easily manipulated by the rich, is it because desperation breeds suspicion of strange ideas and misplaced trust in the sham authority of wealth – is this why the Republicans were able to kill this thing? I reckon.
My heart’s not broken or anything. I lived for a year in Alabama when I was about six but I don’t remember much. And it’s no surprise. It’s sad to say, but I guess it was the ignorance-bred conservatism of the Democratic South that turned it into the Republican South. Tennessee is no better. In Nashville (Smith’s hometown!) a few years ago citizens pelted the Capitol building with bricks while the legislature was debating whether to create – not increase but create – a state income tax.
Git big gubmint off mah back! No, you jackasses! Get poverty off your backs!
So yeah, I’m annoyed.