they have organized into very successful burglary rings that the police are often afraid to tackle because they're hauling semiautomatic weaponry.
So does every cop on patrol, unless you really mean "fully automatic" weapons.
What we should be doing is removing the wage cap on the collection of social security, and have it apply to all income (salary or cap gains or "profit"), while remaining revenue-neutral. That would result in lowering the rate by 40% (I think -- haven't calculated that one in a long time). So huge numbers of taxpayers get a nice break, and the tax system as a whole gets flatter.
But the payroll tax cap also imposes a benefits cap when people start receiving benefits. Do you keep the current policy of what one receives in SS benefits is proportional to what one has paid in or do you cap that and essentially turn it into a welfare program for everyone?
which I venture to say most westerners never even come close to doing
Usually because they don't have the luxury of being away from their job for that long.
First of all, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia all have GDP output higher than Minnesota (TN isn't far behind), so if you think that they are "not particularly rich states", then neither is MN. Western TN, MS, AL, and parts of AR & LA are as flat as MN, but don't have the amount of wind. SD has wind power companies operating along the Missouri river corridor. Hell, even Hutterite colonies are getting grants to put up wind turbines. You need to get out of MN more.
1 Mole = 25 Cagey Bees