In the summer of 2000, my now ex-boyfriend and I took a month-long road trip to visit our friends in the Deep South. He was absolutely appalled and stunned that in Mississippi, my home state for the adolescent years of my life, had no pick-up recycling program. He cringed at the piles of cans and paper in my best friend's garbage can and asked me why they didn't recycle. I told him they didn't have a recycling program.
"Well, why doesn't Mississippi have one?" he asked. "I thought everyone did."
I tried to explain to him the money just wasn't there in the state and local government. He just shook his head in disbelief and contempt.
This same man, not even two months later, sat in my backyard with me, watching the leaves fall, trying to convince me we desperately needed tax cuts in Buffalo.
Didn't he remember the dismal state of Mississippi, where there was no recycling and, furthermore, no parks to take your dog to, a larger amount of unpaved roads than paved roads, and paved roads that were desperately in need of repair?
Then, it occurred to me that he had never lived in any other state. He had no way of seeing the benefits of higher taxes through comparison. It never occurred to him that money might have something to do with its desolate state.
So, here it is, an inside view of the difference between New York state with its high taxes and Mississippi with its very low taxes. I do hope to help you all to appreciate what you have and realize that you get what you pay for.
New York state has some of the highest-paid teachers and therefore one of the best educational programs in the nation. The school I went to in Mississippi was one of the richest public schools in the state, but only because it acted as guinea pig for the federal government to supplement the less-than-sufficient funding it received from the state. This school system instituted random and harmful programs to conform to the ever-changing will of the government.
One of the most harmful results of this system was a four-year program in which elementary school children in my county were taught how to incorrectly spell words for the first three years of their school career and then told that what they had been taught was all wrong and they should now learn how to correctly spell words.
Of course, the government determined this form of teaching was not beneficial to the students, but this was determined only after many children, such as my best friend's sister, were permanently damaged by this method. She's 12 and she still spells "cat" "kat" half the time.
Furthermore, schools in Mississippi cannot afford to pay for the best teachers. They get paid as little as $15,000 a year up to only an average of $25,000 a year and many times begin their jobs without a master's degree because what idiot would go through all the trouble of getting their master's in hopes of making up to $25,000 a year if they're lucky?
And here all you Buffalonians were thinking people in Mississippi were just genetically stupid rednecks. No, Mississippians just can only afford the stupid teachers that no other state wants. Stupid teachers make stupid students.
Another good example of lack of funding is the medical system in Mississippi. Many people die waiting for an ambulance. There is only one ambulance in the county I grew up in and it is the largest county in the state, about the size of Erie County.
My sister had a fatal heart disease and her doctor, who worked in the best hospital in the state, advised my parents to move to another state or my sister wouldn't last a year because the technology and the funding in Mississippi just couldn't giver her what she needed.
What would you do if your state offered absolutely no financial aid to college students? These are all things that taxes pay for. Take away the taxes and you will just be another redneck from a dismal state.