Skip to comments.Red States, Blue States and the Redistribution of Federal Spending
Posted on 04/01/2010 6:26:44 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
April 1 is Census Day. Evidently Glenn Beck and Michele Bachmann have been encouraging Americans to boycott the census to refuse to fill out the whole form. This protest follows from their small government ideology.
I am not always sure what they, or Republicans, or Tea Party participants mean by small government. They say they want a government that intervenes less in the economic sphere. Perhaps they dont like the idea that the census numbers are used, among other things, to determine the allocation of federal spending across states, because they dont think it is the business of the government to redistribute income. That is socialism. Even Stalinism.
A virtue of the Tea Party movement is that many of its members are engaging in national politics for the first time. It occurred to me that they might be able to use some help figuring out the lay of the land, and so I thought I would pursue a little research on their behalf. The question is geographical redistribution: which states receive subsidies from the federal government, and which other states are taxed to provide those subsidies. One might be able to sympathize with the feeling of those living in the heartland of the country that they should not have to subsidize the northeastern states through, for example, federal housing programs. True, the cost of housing, food, and other living expenses is much higher in the coastal cities, compared to the South or Midwest; but it isnt the job of the federal government to smooth out geographical variation in real income. Furthermore the coastal residents could always move if they dont like their high cost of living. Given the big budget deficit problem that we will have to solve in the near future, knowing which states are receiving more than their fair share of handouts should help us know where to cut spending.
The accompanying chart contains 50 data points, one for each state. The data are from 2005, the most recent year available. One axis ranks states by the ratio of income received by that state from the federal government, per dollar of tax revenue paid to the federal government. Personally, I think the red state / blue state distinction is overdone. But to capture the widely felt tension between the heartland and the coastal urban centers, I have put on the other axis the ratio of votes for the Republican candidate versus the Democratic candidate in the most recent presidential election.
It will come as a surprise to some, but not to others, that there is a fairly strong statistical relationship, but that the direction is the opposite from what you would think if you were listening to rhetoric from Republican conservatives: The red states (those that vote Republican) generally receive more subsidies from the federal government than they pay in taxes; in other words they are further to the right in the graph. It is the other way around with the blue states (those that vote Democratic).
One reason is that the red states on average have lower population; thus their two Senators give them higher per capita representation in Washington than the blue states get, which translates into more federal handouts. The top ten feeders at the federal trough in 2005 were: New Mexico, Mississippi, Alaska, Louisiana, West Virginia, North Dakota, Alabama, South Dakota, Kentucky and Virginia. (Sarah Palins home state of Alaska ranks number one if measured in terms of federal spending per capita. Alabama Senator Shelby evidently gets goodies for his state, ranked 7, by indiscriminately holding up votes on administration appointments.) The top ten milk cows were: New Jersey, Nevada, Connecticut, Minnesota, Illinois, Delaware, California, New York, and Colorado.
Perhaps in determining how the federal government redistributes income across states one should view its role more expansively than is captured in the budget numbers. In the western states there are federal water projects that subsidize water for farmers, artificially low grazing fees for ranchers, and leases for hard rock mining and oil drilling on federal lands that have historically charged artificially low prices. Perhaps the biggest federal redistribution program of all is massive agricultural subsidies. The four congressional districts that receive the most in farm subsidies are all represented by conservative Republicans, located in Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, and Texas. (Michele Bachmanns family farm apparently received $250,000 in such farm payments between 1995 and 2006.)
The most commonly ignored area of geographical redistribution is the federal governments permanent policy of universal service in postal delivery, phone service and other utilities (electricity; perhaps now broadband ). Universal service means subsidizing those who choose to live in remote places like Alaska, where the cost of supplying these services is much higher than in the coastal cities. Perhaps they should move
If I were cynical, I might suspect that the reason that Glenn Beck, Michele Bachmann, and some Republicans are not enthusiastic about getting the most accurate numbers possible, from the census and otherwise, is that they dont want people to know who is getting federal handouts and who is paying. Probably they dont want to know themselves.
but it’s not about him
Just fill out name, address age and people at home. That’s all you’re required to fill out. No biggie. The “extended version” - mark a big X through it and send that back. NOTB.
Seems like Washington is making sure that the Blue States are actually PAYING for the spending of the Red States. At least that’s what it’s looking like to me.
Red states are receiving more money because people are moving from Blue states to Red states. What an idiot.
I think this chart is a definite candidate for the next edition of “How to Lie with Statistics”
He fails on his own terms. Dollars spent per dollar in taxes is completely unrelated to census data. The results of this chart would be the same if everyone or no one returned a census form.
Further, rank is a poor statistic and over emphasizes small differences. Why not correlate the raw statistics instead of rank (ordered statistic).
I’m also very, very suspicious that he uses 2008 election results and 2005 spending. How about 2008 election results and 2009 spending, or better the 2010 budget, the first “Obama” budget?
He does not even bother to show the correlation coefficient, or its signifigance.
In the classic south, there are 90 Million with 22 senators works out to about 1 senator per 5M people. So who is over represented?
We need Fedzilla managing the things he listed, why?
Perhaps DC should get out of the way. The states can manage their resources just fine. Would AK “need” the money if they weren’t hampered by central planners telling them what they can and cannot do with their natural resources? I don’t think so.
“States” don’t have jobs, produce wealth, have income, or pay income taxes.
People do. And conservative PEOPLE as a group have higher incomes, pay more taxes, and give FAR MORE to charity than their liberal counterparts.
Senators were never intended to be representative of “people”. They were intended to represent their states.
Nice chart, I’m glad I have a 52” monitor.
The problem is that with direct election, and the erosion of the filibuster, they are just another House of Representatives.
Michele Bachmann and Glenn Beck have NEVER said not to fill out and return the census.
I couldnt’ get past the first sentence in this propaganda lie.