Voice of the people: Paul Mack




Questions Republican establishment 


Reading Slim Smith's column in the August 21st Dispatch reminded me of the Tate Reeves campaign commercial I've seen several times recently. In it, former governor Haley Barbour and others tout Mr. Reeves as the best choice, a true Mississippi conservative with Mississippi values. Hmmm. 


The primary thrust of that commercial is to skewer opponent Bill Waller, Jr.'s plan to pass an eight cent increase in the gas tax to pay for the state's crumbling roads and bridges and his willingness to expand Medicaid in an effort to stave off the failure of even more rural hospitals in the state and, as a bi-product, stimulate those local economies as well as that of the state as a whole. Reeves, meanwhile, thinks the $80 million from the new state lottery will patch the well-known $375 million annual infrastructure hole and can't stomach the thought of expanding Medicaid at all. I guess that's because we're doing so darn well in this state. 


Ask yourself how well the established members of the Republican party have done over the past 20 years for our state. Consider how Mississippi stacks up in state-by-state rankings - what many already joke about. The Mississippi rankings (vs. #1 in each category): 


  • median household income: #51 at just $43,529 in 2017 (#1 - Washington, D.C., $82,382); 


  • median per capita income: #52 (list includes US territories, like the Virgin Islands), $21,036 in 2012 (DC #1 again, $45,877); 


  • obesity, wait for it: #1 at 35.2% of the population (#1 is Hawaii at 19%); 


  • quality of life (a combined index of health care, education system, and state economy): #48 (Washington state and New Hampshire are #1 and #2, respectively). 


    Getting back to infrastructure, a can the state legislature has more visibly kicked down the road in recent years, I would personally be happy to pay the additional eight cents per gallon, as I suspect that cost would be more than offset by savings in insurance and vehicle repair costs. Currently, state residents pay an average of $827 to insure each vehicle annually, about 50 percent lower than the $1,265 paid by residents of New Jersey, the most expensive state. But median household income in New Jersey is $80,088 -- nearly 100% higher. Guess who comes out better there. And there is plenty more like this that I could cite if space and patience would permit. 


    Obviously, the recent Republican establishment is not entirely to blame for these statistics. But their tax cuts, etc. have done precious little for the average person over the past 20 years -- as the disturbing trend lines in these statistics have changed little -- or gotten worse -- in that time. 


    While Slim Smith's opinion column seems to show that Waller's proposals may not be sufficient to finance full recovery of our infrastructure, either, they are a step in the right direction. And then there's his plan for Medicaid -- a boost which neighboring states like Louisiana and Arkansas have benefited from. 


    I am left wondering what is this great track record that Tate Reeves, Phil Bryant, and Haley Barbour are talking about? But don't listen to me -- I'm just a Democrat down the street. 


    Paul Mack 





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