Full disclosure: I loooove Ann Patchett and have permanently parked her novels Bel Canto, Run, Taft and State of Wonder in a prime location on my wall of bookcases. In fact, I'd go far as to say State of Wonder is one of the best books I have ever read.
I love her complex tales, sharp mind and perfect ear, but most of all I admire her courage as a creator of characters. When it comes to the challenge of developing personas wholly unlike herself, Ann Patchett is fearless. She just jumps right in, calls on her magical skill and voila!, she takes on the voice of a child of the Amazon, an aging black barkeep, a Boston Irish politician, old women, young women, you name it.
So, it is not too surprising that, when Nashville business leaders called on Patchett to help fill the void when multiple bookstores left that city, she jumped right in. To learn more about how and why she became a bookseller as well as the author of bestsellers, see this story/video from The Atlantic, below.
This might be a good day to repost a blog entry dated December 2, 2010. You'll see why, immediately.
To link to the original, go to http://bit.ly/SXnW3I
What are they thinking?
Let’s get this straight: I have nothing against myths. We all love a good story, and many of us grew up (quite nicely) on tales of Robin Hood, Johnny Appleseed, Betsy Ross and Paul Bunyan. My hero(ine) was Sacajawea. I can even sympathize with fans of Johnny Reb. Who doesn't love an underdog!
But myths are make believe, and reality is based on fact.
For anyone (especially Southerners) with even a touch of sympathy for the notion that secession is a good idea, please glance at the chart below, taken from research compiled by a nonpartisan tax research group based in Washington, DC. You’ll see the federal dollars received by each state, per dollar of federal taxes paid. In other words, you’ll see if your state is bringing in more than it pays, or vice versa.
Most of the the big receiver states are geographically southern (MS, AL, LA, WV, KY, VA, SC, TN). Others are sparsely populated (SD, ND, NM). Since these states receive more from Washington than they send down, you might say they are little more than colonies, with the exception of North Carolina and Georgia, which pull their own weight.
As you might expect, the big spenders -- i.e., the states putting the most money into the federal coffer and receiving the least in return -- are the most populated (CA, NY, IL, MA, TX) and the most developed. As far as I know, people in those states are not talking about seceding, although you almost couldn’t blame them if they did.
Here’s the list of the top receivers of US taxpayer dollars (FY 2005*):
New Mexico $2.03
West Virginia $1.76
North Dakota $1.68
South Dakota $1.53
South Carolina $1.35
And, here are their benefactors, a/k/a The Big Payers (FY 2005*):
New Jersey $0.61
New Hampshire $0.61
New York $0.79
Wake up, people. Keep Johnny Reb where he belongs, in the story books. Being part of a union isn't just good politics, it's a fiscal necessity for those living in the poorest regions of the country.
But, if you insist, give up the billions in Social Security, Medicare, farm subsidies, federal highway money, support for military bases and other federal installations, salaries for USPHS medical professionals and air traffic controllers, plus all the other federal funding that benefits your citizenry. Revel in your myths of being put upon by damn Yankees, or unappreciated and misunderstood by much of the country you're part of. (Need I say, the country you play a small part in, when it comes to making concrete contibutions to the general good?) You and Johnny Reb might prefer poverty to the benefits that come with working together with the rest of the nation.
Still like secession? Bring it on! That means more money for those of us who live in deficit states.
For another take on this subject, read Tea Partiers Prefer Secession at Two Seeds on a Blog,http://tomandjudyonablog.blogspot.com/2010/11/tea-partiers-prefer-secession-rather.html, written by two enlightened South Carolinians.