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  •  on andrewsullivan.com first entry after friday (none)
    copied here from his blog, an email from a reader.

    TEXAS AND MASSACHUSETTS:  A reader, while setting me straight, actually confirms my thesis:

        I liked your article for the Times about red and blue states exemplified by Texas and Massachusetts. It is a perspective those of us on this side of the pond should benefit from as well as the Brits. Your observation, however, that Massachusetts represents "high tax, and social permissivness" plays to old stereotypes and not current realities.

        First taxes. Massachusetts is decidedly middle of the road in taxation these days. High tax revenues have more to do with Masschusetts being a high income state rather than a high tax state. Tax curbs passed years ago have succeeded in dramatically moderating the tax climate. The state income tax is a flat tax, yes a flat tax, with a rate slightly over 5%. The sales tax, with exemptions for food and clothing, is 5%. Property taxes are severely limited by voter initiative and can only be overridden by popular vote. Compare this with neighboring states. With the exeption of New Hampshire (with outrageous property taxes), Massachusetts is a tax bargain. Compared with a neighboring state down the coast with a losing baseball team, Massachusetts looks like an offshore tax haven.

        Second social permissiveness. If you think Massachusetts is permissive, you've been spending too much time in Provincetown. You need to get out and see the rest of the state. Massachusetts is socially tolerant, but certainly not permissive. Let me give you a couple of examples. Let a straight man try to find a "tittie bar" here. They are few and far between. Boston has spent the better part of two decades closing down all but a couple of holdouts, and they are constatly harrassed. Texas, by the way seems to have a "tittie bar" or a suggestive ad for one on every street corner. Let a visiting gay man try to find a bath house. There are none in the state. They are illegal. The closest are 45 miles away in Rhode Island (the parking lots are full of Mass plates). Texas has gay bath houses in every major city. Want a drink? Better get to the bar before 1am. It goes on and on. Tolerant? Yes. Permissive? Definitely not.

    That captures the red-blue ironies perfectly, doesn't it?
    - 1:36:14 AM

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