Economics

The Red/Blue Paradox

Why do liberal states give while conservative states take?

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We hear it all the time: Red states are for limited government; blue states are for heavy spending. While this may be true when it comes to broad political preferences, it's false as measured by patterns of federal spending.

When you compare the 50 laboratories of democracy after sorting them based on how their citizens voted in November 2008, only 10 Democratic-voting states are net recipients of federal subsidies, as opposed to 22 Republican states. Only one red state (Texas) is a net payer of federal taxes, as opposed to 16 blue states. One blue state (Rhode Island) pays as much as it gets.

Political scientists have been wrestling with this apparent paradox for years. One explanation sometimes offered is that the red states, on average, have smaller populations. In "Political Determinants of Federal Expenditure at the State Level," published by the journal Public Choice in 2005, two University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa economists, Gary Hoover and Paul Pecorino, note that residents of low-population states have more per capita representation in Congress, since every state, regardless of population, has two senators. That edge, Hoover and Pecorino argue, translates into more federal handouts. The results are conspicuous in the case of homeland security grants, where small, rural, relatively low-risk states get much more money per capita than urban states that face bigger terrorist threats.

But red-state lawmakers' ability to bring home the bacon isn't the main reason for the paradox. Red states, on average, are also lower-income states. Because of the progressive federal income tax, states with higher incomes pay vastly higher federal taxes. These payments are unlikely to be matched by federal spending directed back into those states.

This transfer of tax dollars from the states to the federal government is net of tax deductions, including deductions for state taxes ($50 billion in fiscal year 2012) and mortgage interest ($100 billion). As the former U.S. Treasury economist Martin Sullivan showed in the March issue of Tax Notes, the mortgage interest deduction overwhelmingly benefits high-income states. If it weren't for that deduction, blue states would be even bigger net payers than they are today.

The mortgage benefit is somewhat mitigated by the alternative minimum tax (AMT), which disallows certain tax breaks, including the personal exemption and the deductions for state and local taxes. About half of the people paying the AMT in recent years live in one of four states: California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York. Between them, those four states account for almost a quarter of the nation's population.

Why would voters in red states elect lawmakers who promise them small government when they benefit disproportionately from federal handouts? Why would voters in blue states elect lawmakers who support policies that redistribute their income to red states?

One possible explanation is that the voters are misinformed. According to this theory, the people who benefit the most from federal spending simply don't understand how much money they receive; they assume their tax dollars are subsidizing others when in fact they are the ones being subsidized. People in rural states might be convinced that liberal urban Northeastern jurisdictions get large subsidies for entitlements, welfare, and industry bailouts, while failing to understand how much their own states benefit from agricultural and welfare spending. They may mistakenly equate life in a low-density environment with self-sufficiency. Subsidies and welfare from the federal government help maintain this illusion, enticing them to vote for advocates of smaller government. By contrast, voters in highly urban areas may assume they are the ones who get the most subsidies. In turn, they vote for big-government politicians, thinking that welfare spending will ease social frictions in big cities. Ultimately, everyone is wrong.

Another explanation holds that voters are simply irrational. In the words of the George Mason economist Bryan Caplan, "Voters often see themselves as they want to be, not as they really are. People in red states tend to think that 'government is the problem,' so they tell themselves that big government is mostly a problem in blue states. People in blue states tend to think that 'government is the solution,' so they tell themselves that their government takes care of people."

These hypotheses may explain some voters' behavior, but they amount to generalized guesses about other people's thought processes. Two other theories take a closer look at the data.

In "Rich State, Poor State, Red State, Blue State," a 2007 paper for the Quarterly Journal of Political Science, four researchers—Andrew Gelman of Columbia, Boris Shor of the University of Chicago, Joseph Bafumi of Dartmouth, and David Park of George Washington University—explain that while richer voters are more likely to be Republican than poorer voters, this tendency is weaker in blue states. Take two equally wealthy people. One lives in a blue state and the other lives in a red state. The data show that the voter living in the richer blue state is more likely to be a Democrat than the one in the poorer red state, although both are more likely to be Republican than a poor resident of either state. Simply put: Income plays a greater role in determining voter preference in red states than in blue ones. So while voters in red states are more motivated by their financial interests (or perceived financial interests), issues outside of income are more powerful motivators for blue voters. This pattern could help explain why some states vote Democratic despite their wealth and some states vote Republican despite their poverty.

The second theory, which is consistent with the first, holds that Republican voters want to reduce federal spending only if it means cutting other people's handouts. That would explain why elected Republicans in red states, such as Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), don't let their limited-government rhetoric get in the way of voting for farm subsidies.

In the end, the red/blue paradox may be a product of our tendency to look for ideological consistency in politics when there isn't any. The Republican and Democratic parties, like all political coalitions, are umbrella groups that include very different interests. Pro-lifers share a party with hawks, gun controllers with immigration reformers. The role of ideology may be to make contradictory impulses seem coherent and connected.  

Contributing Editor Veronique de Rugy (vderugy@gmu.edu), a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, writes a monthly economics column for reason.

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  1. Doesn’t higher density population areas also water down the stats for per capita enjoyment of subsidized goodies? More taxpayers in Manhattan use that road – ROADS! – outside their door than do hicks in Backwater, USA, the road that runs behindt their outhouse.

    1. I live in Backwater, you snob.

      1. I bet my detached water closet is nicer than yours.

        1. Ignore. The. Retard. Trolls.

          1. Obey your queen!

            1. I got off easy. At least I’m not a Fucking. Retard. Troll.

  2. Or perhaps red states simply receive more subsidies because of their status and not because of choice. The same reason a rich democrat still gets a tax cut.

  3. Can we get some clarification on “federal spending” and “federal taxes paid”?
    1. How are corporate income taxes considered? If I am a retail organization which operates nationwide, thus generating revenue and profit in 50 states, but I am a Chicago based/HQ’d/filing address organization, how is that reflected in this study? Does Blue Illinois get “credit” for 100% of the “federal taxes paid” by an organization that generates them nationwide?
    2. What about payroll/medicare taxes? I grow up, live and work in cold, miserable Buffalo, paying, along with my employer into the Social Security system. Do those contributions get “credited” to Blue New York as “federal taxes paid” in the analysis? What about when I retire at 65 to sunny Phoenix, and start getting collecting Social Security checks and using Medicare? Is that now charged as “federal spending” to Red Arizona?
    3. What about the impact of military spending, which tends towards rural areas, which tend to be Red states? This spending benefits the nation as a whole. Is there an adjustment made for this in the analysis?

    1. I was thinking the same thing, Many people retire to the south which tends to be redder, How do they count?

      I would also like to see this broken down by county. I have to think that if you get into some urban counties in some of these states like New York and Illinois that you would see some counties that end up being drains on the state.

      1. If you look at county demographics, there are very few ‘blue’ states. States like NY, CA, and IL, are mostly red by geography, with just a couple of very heavily populated counties making them blue.

        1. Rural areas are almost always Republican and dense citites are almost always Democratic. (Newer suburbs tend to be Republican and older ones tend to be Democratic, although the differnce is less dramatic in both cases.)

          One factor here is the amount of government in one’s life. That is, a New Yorker rides the government-owned subway every day; a guy who lives in the middle of nowhere perceives little benefit to him from the government. Attitutes about guns also mirror this (guns to somebody in a city mean a drug dealer shooting up the place; guns to a rural dweller mean hunting for food). A city dweller knows lots of people of different types, and is therefore less scared of immigrants or gays or non-white people or non-Christians than somebody in a rural area or small town who interacts with people who look like them, and very rarely even meets a non-Christian, or a homosexual, or a minority, or a non-native born person.

          1. “A city dweller knows lots of people of different types, and is therefore less scared of immigrants or gays or non-white people or non-Christians…”

            If you actually believe this, you are incredibly naive.

            1. I’m not talking about “being (somewhat reasonably) afraid of a big black guy wearing a big jacket in an alley”. I’m talking about “being unreasonably afraid of everybody who doesn’t look exactly like you and your family”.

              1. The VIETNAMESE are trying to steal our congress seat!

              2. Some of the most racist people I have ever met have come from big cities. It is entirely possible to insulate oneself in an ethnic enclave in a big city.

                Many states in the deep south have much larger minority populations than more urban northern states and so residents in the deep south interact more with other racial groups.

                The national media, located mostly in the NE, pushes its own provincial attitudes onto the rest of the country.

              3. Historically frontiers have been magnets for immigrants.

                The most rural state (Alaska) has the 2nd highest percentage of foreign born residents. Foreign immigrants are well liked and integrated. (Half of my coworkers are foreign born.) BTW, It is also one of the least religious and pretty tolerant of alternate lifestyles and gender roles.

                My personal experience is that cities lke LA and NY may be diverse, but there isn’t that much social mixing. There is also lots of zenophobia – particulary in places like NY.

                1. With an X dude. Xenophobia.

          2. You obviously don’t know where to find the swingers…

        2. Wouldn’t the fact that the heavily populated areas are blue make the state blue, rather than red? I mean, dirt can’t vote; doesn’t it make more sense to figure whether a state is red or blue based on how the people vote than how much space is between them?

      2. Yes, that’s undoubtedly the key. The political map changes dramatically if you analyze it by county rather than state.

        And if you analyzed a county-based map by tax gainers/losers, you’d undoubtedly find

        –rural counties that contribute a bit less than they receive (plus some with a bigger deficit, depending on the primary industry in the county). A few rural counties that are playgrounds for the rich might be net payers.

        –poor urban cities/counties that are huge net receivers of federal largess.

        –suburban counties that are mostly huge net payers.

    2. Re #1 – Delaware is a huge net payer!

      1. A tiny state with all the credit card headquarters in it?

        If they didn’t help pay for the highways that took middle Americans to Wal Mart, they wouldn’t be able to make any money…

        This stuff is all interconnected.

    3. I’d like to know what, exactly, defines “spending in a State”?

      Does a big contract to a defense contractor in California or Washington count?

      Are the miles Interstates running through, say, low-population Wyoming counted as spending on Wyoming, even though they may carry Idaho potatoes on their way to Virginia, and result in very little income or direct benefit to Wyoming? Federal highways are most beneficial to a producer and a consumer at the start and end of a shipment. While a truck coming through a state might need some fuel and the drive may buy a sandwich, the locals also get some pollution and traffic, for little net benefit.

      What about farm subsidies? Even in “rural” states, few residents actually derive their income from farming in the modern world. If the corporate owners of huge farms receive subsidies, how much of this money actually goes “to the State?” How much actually lands in the pockets of someone in Chicago, New York or Los Angeles? What about low-wage immigrants who send a fair amount of their income back home? How much of that money goes “to the State”?

      1. In Alaska about 25% of infracture dollars end up in local pockets. Local voters end up paying for the maintenance of the infrastructure.

        For fenerdal contracting is is more dramatic. For a typical no bid 8c (native minority preference) contracts to “local” native corps, perhaps 3-4% of federal dollars are spent locally with the rest going to subcontractors who are generaly in states like Virginia and California. Congressional candidates for Alaska raise most of their money from outside sources…

        The fact that much of the spending in small states quickly moves into larger (blue) states is why representitive from blue states play along. If the delegation from Washinton blocked fisheries research in Alaska, Seattle based Trident Seafoods would “educate” them.

  4. I suggest two reasons:

    (1) Military bases. I’m betting they are weighted toward Red States, for whatever reason. I imagine this pushes a lot of spending to Red States.

    (2) Urbanization. I bet this is weighted toward Blue States, and pulls a lot of taxes from Blue States because the upper end of the income distribution tends to be in cities, and they pay nearly all the income taxes.

    1. Let’s not leave out the percentage of land owned by the Federal Government in a lot of those Red states.

      That leads to a lot of “Federal spending” in those states…

    2. So red states are generally rural and have lower costs of living and therefore have lower mean/ median incomes. The red states in middle America are much larger geographically than the blue states on the east coast. So when the feds build an interstate across Nebraska, it cost more to build and yet it “services” fewer people that generally make less money than an interstate that connects the big population centers on the east coast.

      Demographics may also play a role as well. Iowa has one of the oldest populations in the country. So Iowa’s per capita share of Social Security and Medicare payments is relatively high.

      1. The Interstates through Iowa and Nebraska certainly benefit their residents — but the products the roads carry are shipped OUT of the states and consumed by the rest of the country. New Yorkers are using Nebraska highways, even if they never set foot in the state. How do we account for this?

        Also, Interstates must cross large, sparsely populated states to enable shipment and travel between other states. If a road goes from Seattle to Minneapolis, it has to pass through Montana and the Dakotas. One can’t spend all the money in Washington and Minnesota, and expect the road to work…

        1. Good point, and it illustrates one of the many points the article misses. Agricultural and highway subsidies to red states should reduce the price of commodities produced by those states, thus benefiting blue states, and in the case of subsidies for food production, benefiting the poor especially.

    3. “”(1) Military bases. I’m betting they are weighted toward Red States, for whatever reason. I imagine this pushes a lot of spending to Red States.””

      Many blue states do have military bases. There are several in NY, and many defense contractors are on Long Island. I agree with number two.

      Red likes to spend and cut taxes. Blue likes to spend and raise taxes. In that sense, blue is more fiscal responsible in the respect of the willingness to pay for that which they spend. Reagan spent so much money Bush sr. had to raise taxes to pay for it even though he promised not to raise taxes which costed him a re-election. I would think it require a shitload of fiscal pressure for Bush to do that. Bush jr spent a shitload and pushed the bill to future leaders to deal with. Obama had enough on his plate to deal with that, why he wanted to make it worse by spending a shitload himself is beyond me, and that will probably cost him the election. Assuming the Rs get a worthwhile candidate.

      Citizens should have a problem with both because both are willing to spend beyond our means.

      1. In that sense, blue is more fiscal responsible in the respect of the willingness to pay for that which they spend. Reagan spent so much money Bush sr. had to raise taxes to pay for it even though he promised not to raise taxes which costed him a re-election.

        That is really not the case:

        1) Look at the decline in the budget deficit from the recessions of the early 80’s to the end of Reagan’s second term. It is a healthy downward slope.

        2) Look at the actual size of the revenues coming in during those years, from around 600+ billion to 1.1+ trillion a year. I agree with Rothbard that that isn’t a good thing — tax cuts used to stimulate revenues that are used to justify growing the government, but why someone from your pov would not be cheering that I can’t fathom and hazard to guess.

        3) Deficits go back on the upswing in the first two years as Bush’s ‘pragmatic’ budget director, the late Mr Smarty Pants, makes sweetheart deals with the democratic leadership so each side gets ALOT of what they want.
        2) Bush agrees to raise taxes, for which he gets an extended recession and a boot as going away presents.

        1. 1 2 3 2 Uhm, just seeing if you were paying attention, and it symbolizes the regression back to type which is an analogy of the Bush succession after Reagan. Yeah, that’s it!

          1. Hell, just ran into a chart kindly provided by Reason that gives proof against the lie. It is exactly as I stated above:

            http://mercatus.org/sites/defa…..larJPG.jpg

            (Not my favorite way of breaking down the information, but I’m not going to quibble)

            Not saying you lied, Vic, but somebody abused your trust and lied to you. As the Angry Hillbilly God is my witness, you will have your revenge.

            1. I like this chart better.

              http://www.heritage.org/budget…..ng-revenue

            2. Besides, an 800 ship navy isn’t cheap.

  5. This enduring fact is one of the most straightforward, unassailable reasons for doing things at the state level rather than the federal. If we reduce federal spending, blue states can have stronger safety nets and/or lower taxes because they no longer have to carry red states. And red states would just have less in the way of a safety net.

    Same thing applies for social issues. Red states and blue states trying to impose their different sets of morality on each other leads to all kinds of problems.

    Why do so many people see EVERYTHING as needing to be done at the federal level…

    1. Oh and lest I forget, this also happens if you compare upstate and downstate NY. Perhaps even more dramatically.

    2. The UN does such a bang up job, why don’t we let the world fix our problems?

    3. How dare you suggest that we just sit back and allow our fellow countrymen to live in the stone age!

      It’s disgusting and inhuman that you would suggest that Rethuglicans should have the right to deny every schoolgirl her Deity-granted privilege to extract that parasite growing in her belly!

    4. I agree, I have never understood why large Liberal states support the Federal Government to the extent they do.

      If they kept most of that Federal money, they would have far more to spend on their own priorities (even counting the ‘loss’ of Federal Grants).

      I think if the tax percentages paid to Fed/State were reversed the Fed’s could still fund critical functions (military, etc) and the states would be in much better shape to ‘take care of their own’, however they choose to do that.

      1. Blue states somehow manage to subsidize Red states AND be richer, better places to live. See, strong governments with robust safety nets and prosperity go together, it’s not zero-sum.

        1. Right as always. The Grand Tetons really suck compared to Newark, NJ.

          1. Didn’t you know? EVERYBODY wants to live in some dirty-ass post-industrial crime-infested East Coast shithole.

            I’m glad they love it and encourage them to stay,and hope they encourage their neighbors to do so as well.

    5. How do you “do” military bases and the interstate highway system on a state level rather than federal?

  6. suckers!

  7. I think data also shows that red states also tend to give way more to charity than the blue states.

    Not to condone it but what is the breakdown of the money returned? Is it primarily personal welfare? Or is it public works projects? I am deffinatley in favor of smaller governmentment but I don’t believe someone voting for more wellfare to be handed out is the same as someone who wants the highway updated through their town.

    1. “”I think data also shows that red states also tend to give way more to charity than the blue states.””

      I would like to see the data on that. Also, how is charity being defined? NY has a very robust Medicaid program, substance abuse programs, public assistance programs, ect. NYS and NYC give many grants to medical, substance abuse, and psych programs.

        1. Thanks.

          That looks like giving by individuals out of their own pocket. Little to do with taxes execpt that they get a tax deduction for giving. That means they contribute less to tax revenue.

          1. Yes, it is giving out of their own pocket, voluntarily.

            It puts the lie to every “progressive” who says that people who don’t support high taxes are “selfish”.

            Fantastic link, thanks.

          2. Ummm…that’s why it’s called charity and not transfer payments

        2. I wonder how much of that charitable giving is tithing and donations to various religious organizations. In the case of some of those states, I’d bet a great deal of it is. And while religious charities do a phenomenal amount of good in the world, I still wish there were a way to break out stuff like donations to the heifer project vs. buying Pat Robertson a new jet.

    2. A big part of that is due to giving to churches. People are just giving to social organizations that they attend. Granted, a certain percentage goes to social programs that are part of the church’s mission, but most of it goes to support the social part of the organization.

      1. Blue-state charitable giving goes to social organizations (like churches) as well. That doesn’t change that red staters give substantially more to charity.

        1. But red-staters are significantly more likely to be church going in a per capita sense, meaning that more of the people who give as a percentage are giving to churches than in blue states. And that’s what matters, since none of this is measured in absolute numbers.

          1. Not all red states are in the bible belt. Some are less religious than most blue states.

            Also not all charity is through churches. Also, quite a bit fo tithing isn’t really charity for the common good, but rather support for their personal “hobby” of attending church. That being said R’s do tend to give more to generally charitable organisations.

            1. Some are less religious than most blue states.

              Such as?

              Also, quite a bit fo tithing isn’t really charity for the common good, but rather support for their personal “hobby” of attending church.

              Taxes don’t differentiate between the two, and that’s where the information comes from. Which makes churchgoers look much more charitably inclined, despite their money not being all that charitable.

              1. How is a church less charitable than any other charity?

                Churches have administration costs like any other orginization.

                My guess is all charities have about the same admin costs etc. As any other. If anything Chirches probably do a better job as a lot of their admin and such costs are volunteer members.

                1. >How is a church less charitable than any other charity?

                  Some aren’t. Lots are. Buying Pat Robertson a new jet isn’t what most people think of as charity, but donating money to him so he can do just that counts for tax purposes. Evangelizing doesn’t do much for the hungry, but it likewise counts as charity.

          2. But the data also shows red staters give more to charity when church-giving is filtered out.

  8. Even if the red staters knew how much the fed spends on them does not mean they want that money. Why because with fed money comes federal regulation of schools, speed limits, age of being able to drink and a host of other regulations that hurt business. We have this problem in our little town we want an offramp from the freeway for easy access to the hospital but the fed regulations have delayed it by thirty years and have double the cost where if we could it would have been built thirty years ago.

    1. Then why do your state legislators continue accepting Federal funds? As with most Big Government problems, it’s systemic.

      1. Then why do your state legislators continue accepting Federal funds?

        That’s their job, to bring home the pork. Just as you would not expect liberal taxpayers to pay more taxes than others even though they will generally support raising taxes, you would not expect states to turn away federal dollars even if they generallly support reducing federal money to states.

      2. Well while something is the law or at least available you have to use it to be on equal footing.

        I don’t like the designated hitter rule but If I am a baseball manager I have to use it even while I am against it.

      3. For the same reason you and I will take every tax deduction we can at the end of the year. Even though I am in favor of getting rid of all tax deductions except medical expense because you can’t plan an illness.

  9. One possible explanation is that the voters are misinformed.

    You don’t say.

    1. Inconceivable!1!

      1. You keep saying that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.

  10. Daniel Patrick Moynihan had this figured out way back in 1977.

    It’s the progressive tax code. States with lots and lots of rich people can’t help but wind up getting “shorted”. They may actually be getting their needs met by what comes back from Washington, but what’s paid in by the evil rich is still greater than what they’re getting.

    New York has tons of rich people. Oklahoma doesn’t…and sure enough, there they are at opposite ends of the spectrum.

    Ironically, blue-state liberals are just as irrational as anybody else when they call for even higher taxes on the rich – as Moynihan demonstrated decades ago, this would increase the gap between tax payments and federal goodies for a state like New York.

    1. Moynihan, were he alive today, would be viewed by the likes of MediaMatters and Lawrence O’Donnell as one would react upon finding a rotting skunk in the cupboards.

      1. I remember listening to Kennedy’s inaugural thinking he was a heckuva hawk, even for modern GOP standards.

        1. I tend to think what I said about Moynihan, would apply to JFK and others of those days.

          Look at how Zell Miller was/is still treated by his own party.

          1. Hell, I think JFK advocated for tax cuts in his ’63 SOTU! Vat eh uneducate!

            1. Which is NOT an endorsement. He was still a statist.

    2. William F Buckley wrote about it in the 1950s when New York was merely paying 1.60+ per dollar received.

      So much has changed!

      Red State Hypocrite or a Blue State Sap, just depends on what kind of bird you prefer to be.

      1. Was New York being screwed, or was it subsidizing those who were the primary market for its goods and services?

  11. Red has, for a hundred years around the world, been the color of Communism and Socialism (“Better dead than Red!”). Why did the American media abruptly reverse the meanings 20 years ago? Was it mere ignorance or intentional?

    1. Intentional, but not for the reasons you suggest. The Red=Republican convention came about roughly the same time as the Republican=Irrationally Angry Moron theme got popular. Red is the color of inchoate rage.

      1. So what’s blue the color of, besides sad losers?

          1. Wait, you mean that’s not a libertarian in his natural habitat?

        1. Blue is the color of my true love’s eyes, in the mornin’ when we rise.

        2. Blue is usually the color of the fake liquid used in diaper commercials to represent urine.

          1. And actual urine in diapers if you give your baby enough colloidal silver!

    2. IIRC, it started with the Carter/Ford election maps used by the main networks, who labelled states going for Ford in red and those going for Carter in blue.

      I’m guessing that it was a concious attempt to avoid a conventional stereotype, but I have no real evidence.

    3. My recollection is that red and blue colors were used for showing election results on maps, and got swapped every cycle between the parties.

      When Bush v. Gore hit the fan, it just happened to be a red = Repub cycle, and that election was so controversial and heavily covered for so long that it cemented the colors where they happened to be.

      1. That, and I think that TEAM BLUE was tired of being associated with the “reds” (the Soviets, who no longer existed), and the chance came along to just throw red on TEAM RED, and it was taken by the TEAM BLUE schmucks in the media.

      2. The best explanation on the Red/Blue switch I have seen so far. And the trend was broken in 2008 (due to the reasons RC Dean described).

      3. Matches my recollections as well.

        1. They may have “no longer existed”, but they still look longingly at those days…

      4. This is correct. The tradition was the color the incumbent party switched every election. In 2000, this happened to mean the opposition (Republicans) were red, and the incumbents (Democrats) were blue. In 2004, the parties would have kept their colors by tradition, since the Democrats were now the opposition, but the opposition color switched, so the kept blue (and vice versa). At this point, saying things like “Red State” became common, and a new tradition was established.

        A fair number of die hard Republicans were really pissed off to get stuck with red, due to it’s association with communism and leftist parties in general (including non-communist ones) worldwide. (In the UK, Labour is red and the Torries are blue, for instance.)

    4. Liberal once meant being for freedom at one point as well.

      1. This is obviously true if you’re talking about classical liberals. Even within living memory, I’d say the Glenn Greenwald / ACLU liberals who value social freedom and civil rights went from being the majority of “the left” to a small percentage.

    5. It was 11 years ago. Originally, blue was the color of the incumbent in Presidential elections, while red was the insurgent. When Bush v. Gore happened, Gore was made blue since he was VP, and the news media spent so long talking about “red states and blue states” over the next two years that changing it would have just confused people. So it was solidified.

  12. Won’t anyone think of the CEOs?

    ;P

  13. Please mention Texas as the exception to this rule. Texas is a red state and a giver, not a taker.

    1. She did. Second paragraph.

    2. Texas is also a massively populated state with quite a few massively populated cities. This squares well with the cities = higher income = higher taxes thesis.

      1. Plus it’s just awesome.

      2. No income tax, bitches.

  14. RED/BLUE debates are every bit as meaningful as DEEP DISH/THIN CRUST.

    1. Yankees/Red Sox

      1. Like red/blue, both are evil.

        1. This, from a Reds fan? Never forget!

    2. RED/BLUE debates are every bit as meaningful as DEEP DISH/THIN CRUST.

      Not even a close comparison.

      I can eat just about any pizza (except anchovy), I find TEAM RED/TEAM BLUE impossible to swallow.

      1. Don’t be absurd, Aresen. There’s nothing than can remotely be called “pizza” in Canada.

        1. Thus speaketh a resident of the country that gave the world the crime against humanity known as “Pizza Hut.”

          1. Sure, Pizza Hut, Papa John’s, Chucky Cheese,(or any other pizza chain, actually), we have our crimes against pizza, but that doesn’t make Epi wrong, necessarily.

            1. I would add that there’s nothing that can remotely be called pizza outside of New York, New Jersey, and, surprisingly, Florida (must be all those NY/NJ transplants).*

              *Actually, I did have good pizza in London once. This one pushy pizza place kept touting their “New York style pizza,” so I tried it just to be able to tell them their claims were bullshit. But they actually weren’t bullshit. So I’m a big liar.

              1. Umm…Chicago? East Coast pizza blows. I know this link doesn’t prove anything (and to claim that SF’s pizza ranks anywhere near the top is absurd…seriously, fuck SF), but here’s the top result googling “best pizza city”.

                http://slice.seriouseats.com/a…..erica.html

                1. Sorry…need to rag on SF a bit more. I’ve spent way too much time in that cesspool eating their so-called “world class” food. Fuck that. I can find better Italian, Mexican, etc in other cities (New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, Minneapolis, etc) that costs half as much. And it doesn’t come w/ some bum begging me for change as I’m eating. And no “health tax”. Seriously, fuck SF.

                  1. SF’s real claim to fame is perfecting the Burrito….and serving it out of trucks.

                    1. I thought Colorado perfected the burrito and sold it out of Chipotle.

                  2. Chicago doesn’t count. Deep dish is not pizza. I’m not saying I don’t like it, because I do, but it isn’t pizza anymore than a Pizza Bagel is pizza. I don’t care what some survey says that relies on tourists for their bogus rankings. Should I take a vacation to Paris and rank the best French food? Would a single French person give my opinion any weight if I did?

                    But you’re right. SF blows.

                    1. I’d put the thin crust pizza in Chicago over the New York “pie” as well if you want to compare oranges to tangerines. It’s just not as iconic as the deep dish.

              2. I would add that there’s nothing that can remotely be called pizza outside of New York, New Jersey, and, surprisingly, Florida (must be all those NY/NJ transplants).*

                That’s just not true in so many ways. Ignoring Italy for the moment, there’s even a place to get excellent pizza in Albuquerque (http://www.giovannispizzaalbuquerque.com/). Sure, a NYC transplant owns it. But there are lots of independent pizza places that do it right around the country. NYC does have that great water though. It may have the best pizza as a result, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get good pizza other places.

                1. Best Pizza Ever:

                  The Greek’s in Valparaiso Indiana

                  1. Valpo? Really? I’ll have to giove it a try next time I’m in them parts.

                2. Ignoring Italy for the moment

                  Always ignore Italy when it comes to pizza.* THERE IS NO GOOD PIZZA IN ITALY. Regular pasta is OK, but Italian Pizza is awful.

                  *Actually, one can almost always ignore Italy, except that their looming financial crisis may be the final blow for the Euro.

                  1. Aresen, I completely agree here. I went to Italy when I was 18, and I was told most restaurants only started making it about 5 or 10 years prior. Contrary to the beliefs of some, pizza is an Italian American invention, not an Italian one. The pizza I had in Italy was just super-thin dough with tomatoes and fresh mozzarella on it. That’s not pizza.

                  2. Always ignore Italy when it comes to pizza.* THERE IS NO GOOD PIZZA IN ITALY.

                    Wow. You’ve tried all the pizzerias in Italy. Impressive. More impressive is that you found them all to be bad. Might be because your pizza palate was trained in Canada.

                    Regular pasta is OK, but Italian Pizza is awful.

                    Ok?!? Were you eating at The Olive Garden in Milan or something?

                    1. Jen|7.14.11 @ 2:31PM|#

                      Aresen, I completely agree here. I went to Italy when I was 18, and I was told most restaurants only started making it about 5 or 10 years prior. Contrary to the beliefs of some, pizza is an Italian American invention, not an Italian one. The pizza I had in Italy was just super-thin dough with tomatoes and fresh mozzarella on it. That’s not pizza.

                      The pizza was certainly perfected and developed in NYC, but the Italian version can be quite good. Depends upon the region, however, as to whether pizza is new things for the tourist, or a traditional dish that the locals love. In Rome, pizzerias are a fairly recent response to the tourist industry. But when I lived there, I had many an amazing pizza.

                    2. Ok?!? Were you eating at The Olive Garden in Milan or something?

                      I have had superb pasta in Italy. (If you are ever in Tuscany, go to the little village of Lucignano, about 50 KM South-South-West of Firenze [Florence]. There is a little restaurant called Toto’s. The food is unbelievably good.)

                      OTOH, I had really awful pasta in a family owned restaurant in Monterosi, about 40 km North of Rome: Bland, gluey, and overcooked with an abominable sauce.

                    3. OTOH, I had really awful pasta in a family owned restaurant in Monterosi, about 40 km North of Rome: Bland, gluey, and overcooked with an abominable sauce.

                      It is, of course, possible to get bad pasta in Italy, but that is hardly the norm.

                  3. but Italian Pizza is awful.

                    Their calzones are usually not bad…

                    But one time i got one and they put a raw egg in it and didn’t finish cooking it…

                    Pretty sure the cook did that because I was an American.

                    Italians are dicks.

                    1. Pretty sure the cook did that that bothered me because I was an American.

                    2. Pretty sure that that bothered me because I was an American.

                      I did not say I didn’t eat the calzone. In fact it was quite good.

                      Anyway you did not see the sneer the guy gave me.

                    3. Anyway you did not see the sneer the guy gave me.

                      I believe the sneer, but an Italian cook does not sacrifice the quality of his product for such trivial reasons (he said in a blatantly gross over-generalization ;^)

                      Americans do get that sneer sometimes. I typically interpreted it as…”you are a barbarian and will not appreciate this masterpiece I am presenting you with.”

                3. there are lots of independent pizza places that do it right around the country.

                  Escape from NY Pizza in Portland Oregon makes damn fine pizza.

        2. I’ll take poutine and a peameal sandwich over 99% of American pizza, any day of the week.

      2. anchovy rules–federal law should require all pizza contain at least 1% by weight of anchovy:D

        1. I just find anchovy too salty.

          1. The best pizza I ever had was in a little restaurant in Redwood City, CA, that is, alas, no longer there.

            Other than that, the best pizzas are usually at owner-operated (non-franchise) Greek restaurants.

            For pizza chains, I prefer Boston Pizza, which is a Western Canadian based outfit, but that is probably because I first started getting pizza there.

            1. You had good pizza in Redwood City?

              The only good food in RC is from taco trucks.

              1. This applies to the Bay Area in general.

              2. It was 20+ years ago.

                Last time I was there, the area had been “improved” by leveling the block.

                1. Lol. I did my PhD at Berkeley. If the entire Bay Area were leveled, it would be a massive improvement.

            2. Other than that, the best pizzas are usually at owner-operated (non-franchise) Greek restaurants.

              True in Greensboro too. There are enough Greeks locally they throw a sizable festival every autumn at the Greek Orthodox church. Food is incredible.

              The woman I wrote about yesterday, the psychic, comes from a family of restaurant owners. One pizza joint of theirs is pretty good, but a chop house that unfortunately closed down had the most fantastic seafood.

              Then there are the New York transplants. A buddy runs a pizza place just outside of town that is quite ‘sal’ right. Another NY transplant opened up a place in the college district called New york Pizza in the late 70’s. Popular joint here still, but I find their slices to be too greasy for my taste.

          2. —“I just find anchovy too salty.”—

            I don’t eat pizza with anything on it that smells like my finger.

            1. If your finger smells like anchovies, you need to wash your hands more often.

    3. Mustang/Camaro

  15. I get so confused about this red state blue state thing.

    Red is Republican, though red is the universally recognized color of communism so should refer to Democrats, and Blue is Democrat, though blue is often associated with old money which is supposedly who Republicans support.

    It’s too confusing.

    1. Red is also the color of debt, which would seem to apply to either. We need a Black party, or is that racist?

      1. Not if we get Herman Cain to join.

    2. Keep saying Democrats are communists. I’ve got Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’s body hooked up to a turbine in my basement, and people making them roll around in their grave is providing a workable transitional energy source.

  16. I would think with a $1.5 trillion dollar deficit that all states are getting back more than they are sending to DC.

    1. Excellent point. How is it possible that total expenditures exceed total tax revenues by 40%, but a fair number of states still send more to Washington than is spent in their state?

    2. “getting back” does not equal “benefiting from”.

      when the federal government steals my money, and then spends it on crap in my home state that I would never spend my own money on, such as paying TSA agents to molest me at the airport, I’m not “getting back” anything from that spending. I’m worse off then if they had given up any pretense of “helping” me and had just spent the money on hookers and blow and otherwise left me alone.

      1. ^This.

        I might actually vote for a guy if he promised to only spend my money on hookers and blow.

        1. For ME.

          They already do that, for themselves.

  17. The 1988 Times-Mirror profile of the electorate found that Religious Right “moralists” are a 94% white group that “favor[s] social spending except when it is targeted to minorities” (p. 13).

    1. Good thing nothing’s changed in 23 years…

  18. It’s funny how stupid this argument is, and how avidly taken up by supposed “libertarians” who then go apeshit trying to explain away why “red” states are net receivers. As if it fucking mattered; who gives a fucking shit what states pay or get, unless you want to be collectivist about it? But it is telling to watch a bunch of you go full-on TEAM RED over this. And by the way, next time MNG calls 50% of the people here closet TEAM RED? This is why. Your biases are clear.

    1. Apeshit?

      You think 50% of us are “going apeshit trying to explain away why “red” states are net receivers”?

      Settle down Francis.

      1. Are you kidding? When I first scanned this thread, there were 30 responses and 75% of them were people trying to explain why red states could be net receivers yet…uh…that was still ok…or something. If you can’t see the scrambling and the KULTUR WAR shit in that, then you’re part of it.

        A little touchy about that, Tman?

        1. So 30 commenters disagreed with the analysis of the article thus they are all TEAM RED? That’s pretty lazy analysis Epi, especially for you.

          There is no litmus test for independents. I hate social conservatives for their idiotic attempts to moralize, but I hate even worse the snooty NPR Manhattan assholes who still try and defend their failed economic ideals. This doesn’t make me TEAM RED. I am TEAM INDEPENDENT, or TEAM STRIPE if you want.

          Don’t pull this no true Scotsman crap. It’s just stupid.

          1. I didn’t call you TEAM RED; I asked if you were touchy about being called TEAM RED. And you are.

            There is a legitimate point made around here by people like MNG that there is a lot of TEAM RED…not bias, but…gravity, let’s say. It’s pretty obvious to anyone TEAM BLUE, and it’s pretty obvious to anyone who hates both TEAMs with a passion. I’m merely pointing it out, and hoping that some people will do some self-reflection.

            1. I’m not touchy about it, I just don’t think it’s true. I could give a fuck what people think about the “commenters bias”. I believe that the majority of the commenters here are fed up with both Teams for obvious reasons. To say that there is TEAM RED “gravity” is probably because Obama is president. You could’ve said the opposite when Bush was around.

              Don’t kid yourself in to thinking that MNG has made a legitimate point. And I don’t need to pause for self reflection, I know where I stand.

              TEAM STRIPE!!!

              1. I don’t like the team stripe moniker. It makes me think of FC Barcelona.

                1. Yeah, we need a better one.

                  TEAM PLAID?

                  TEAM BLACK? I kinda like TEAM BLACK.

                  1. The black flag was a traditional anarchist symbol, but only the fuckhead socialist type of anarchist. I believe.

                    1. More accurately, it’s black/red.

                      Like this:
                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confederaci?n_Nacional_del_Trabajo

                    2. The Johnnie Walker Nation?

                  2. Team Blonde. If we base this on Reservoir Dogs characters, I would definitely go with Team Blonde.

                  3. TEAM GOLD, of course…

                    1. There is no TEAM for individualists. Don’t be fucking stupid.

                    2. “The People Who Hate People Party…..come together!!!”

                      “no..”

                    3. I gotta say, I had the same thoughts, Epi.

                      A huge number of comments immediately call into question the studies themselves, how the criteria are defined, etc. Which is good; people shouldn’t just believe whatever they read without questioning it.

                      But I can easily see that if this story was reversed, if it was “Blue states take up tax dollars and red states provide it”, then almost none of this intellectual rigor would be applied, and it would all be, “Damn liberals taxing us all to death! Booo democrats!”

            2. And I thought I was the only one who noticed.

        2. Questioning the meaning of “spending in/on a State” is not defending Team Red. There are some Red States I like, and some that I would nuke if I had the choice. Ditto for Blue. And I’d slash and replace all of their governments with minarchist libertarian systems, if I were only king! 😉

          1. You have my vote, for err… …king?

  19. This article seems to leave out the reason I think is most behind it. Red state voters are against big government whether they get a net financial benefit or not. They can even vote for less of it in general while demanding more for their state.

    If you know everyone is robbing the till, you can be against putting more in the till, while still grabbing what you can before everyone else does. That’s just smart AND pricnipled.

    1. That’s just smart AND pricnipled.

      Republicans have prickly nipples?

    2. I’m not defending the motives of a hundred million people. I’m an individualist.

      However, I agree with your basic premise. This does fall along the same lines as “if you are a libertarian, how dare you go for a hike in the local State Park?”

  20. By contrast, voters in highly urban areas may assume they are the ones who get the most subsidies. In turn, they vote for big-government politicians, thinking that welfare spending will ease social frictions in big cities.

    Or, as Democrats, they recognize that their Federal taxes are designed to benefit the country as a whole and don’t have a problem with that. The assumption that voters look only at their personal self-interest when voting makes it hard for me to take this article seriously.

    Seriously vapid analysis.

    1. IMO, states should raise their own revenue, instead of having money taken from them only to have to jump through hoops to get it back.

      1. Yeah. Works for people too…

        1. Yeah. Works for people too…

          What annoys me is the government taking my money (withholding), then requiring that I prove it’s actually my money before I get it back (refunds).

  21. States don’t vote – individuals do.

    The only way to know who is paying the freight and who is getting a net handout would be to know how each person voted and tie that to the absolute dollar amount of taxes paid by each person and what specific services each person is getting in services.

    Aggretage all that up and THEN you would know whether red or blue voters in total were net recepients or net payees.

  22. The assumption that voters look only at their personal self-interest when voting makes it hard for me to take this article seriously.

    Well, that explains why threatening to throw Granny under the bus always fails to get the oldsters angried up. I wonder why the Dems keep trotting it out, and why the Reps gave it a go during the ObamaCare kerfuffle.

    1. There’s this word “only” in my statement. I didn’t say voters ignore self-interest. But to assume that a voter who is part of a political party that has a platform designed around a robust federal government would change their vote if they realized that their Federal taxes were going to another state is retarded.

      1. Isn’t party membership as much a social signifier as it is a reflection of personal ideology? The old joke about being Republican to distinguish oneself from the servants comes to mind. The party platforms are usually unknown to the vast majority of people who self-identify as either D or R. They vote based on some inchoate feeling of what they think the parties stand for and tribal identity. YMMV, of course, but the percentage of people who are enagged enough to have actually read a party platform is vanishingly small.

        1. True enough, but I suspect that “inchoate feeling” of what the parties stand for, for Democrats, includes a sense of the Federal government as a positive force and support for the idea that people in one-state support those in other states because we are part of the same country. The “big government” versus “small government” thing. If a voter supports “big government,” they probably recognize that their Federal taxes subsidize people across the country and are probably okay with that.

  23. Small government rhetoric is just that. Rs like their pork just as much as Ds. Blue states have less problems with social metrics because they have better governments, which is a function of a higher and denser population. I think it’s long past time we recognized that there is no great hunger for the realities of “small government” in this country, even in rural areas. If the SS checks stop coming next month, we’ll see that very clearly. Small government talk is an election tactic–a dishonest one–nothing more.

    1. because they have better governments, which is a function of a higher and denser population.

      Yes, Chicago is known countrywide as a bastion of better government because of the population density. Keep bringing teh stoopid, Tony.

      1. I didn’t say less corrupt, I said better. It takes work to make an urban center function, and people who live there, I think, probably appreciate government more than rural inhabitants, since they have to live among a lot of people. It’s pretty uniform, even within states–urban means D, rural means R, with suburbs as swing areas.

        It’s a peculiarity of our national government setup that the citizens of rural areas have disproportionate influence on national policy, sticking all of us with the values that may work in their environment but not others (all the while being net recipients of federal loot).

        1. I would say that urban areas function better *despite* their governments. That is, the thousands of informal, market-based interactions that city dwellers engage in on a daily basis bring more stability, prosperity, and satisfaction than a top-down city government can provide.

    2. —“Blue states have less problems with social metrics because they have better governments”—

      I live in Blue California. I have better government?

      1. No, yours sucks pretty hard. I shouldn’t say better governments, but better policies (usually meaning bigger government in your guys’ formulation). That disparity is only likely to grow as the state-level GOP surge from 2010 wreaks havoc on the states.

  24. For all their rhetoric about economic dynamism the Red states tend to be economic backwaters and the blue states economic dynamos. The red states therefore need assistance more and get it, but the fact that black people in the state get some of it helps keep their anti-government rhetoric in pay…

    1. Anti-government =Racism

    2. Kill yourself.

  25. What about this as a theory: states that like taxes the least fight harder to get the money returned to their state. If the get MORE money returned then were collected, all the better as the profit will just counterbalance perceived historical, future, or hidden taxes.

  26. What about this as a theory: states that like taxes the least fight harder to get the money returned to their state. If the get MORE money returned then were collected, all the better as the profit will just counterbalance perceived historical, future, or hidden taxes.

    1. I liked your first suggestion better.

      1. Its just one theory, and it’s not a suggestion or an endorsement. I just don’t see why it’s a paradox. The decision an individual red state makes isn’t between accepting government money and smaller government, it’s between accepting government money and getting nothing while the government gets bigger. It’s perfectly logical when viewed from the perspective of one state (or person). It’s only a paradox when you look at the red states as a whole, whereas if they all rejected government funds, government could potentially shrink.

  27. I imagine one way to get your government largesse but try to keep it from blacks and still be able to call yourself a good conservative would be to get it via defense contracts. They tend to be jobs that take some credentials to get and this would weed out a disproportionate amount of blacks. This may be why you get folks like Shelby who crow about cutting dollars and then put Senatorial holds out if defense dollars flowing to their areas get threatened.

    1. To pass the laugh test, your assertion would have to be that conservatives support aid to (largely nonblack) military contractors but oppose aid to the actual military (which had a strong black presence). Otherwise, even if we assume that military contractors are lily-white (and not in the least pressured by federal affirmative-action programs to hire more blacks), then your supposed racists, by supporting military spending, would be supporting spending on icky minorities in the military.

      Can you

      1. . . . seriously defend this view?

      2. …dig it?

    2. Raaacism explains everything

  28. Perhaps look at it like this: say that I rob two people–one person who hates being robbed and another person who is ambivalent about being robbed. If a year later I offer them the chance to rob me, which person is going to take the most from me? It’s simple revenge, which the last time I checked wasn’t a paradox, but basic human instinct.

  29. Fucking teabagger slack-jawed red staters! They should be split off into Jesusland!

    Now, how can we give them more of our money…

    1. The very fact that you’ve never heard that latter sentiment from Team Blue should tell you that they don’t even believe this in their own hearts.

  30. There are lots of reasons for the supposed paradox. Consider a federal subsidy for pimento loaf sandwiches. Blue state voters think this is a GREAT idea and overwhelmingly support it. The Red State voters are against a federal pimento loaf program.

    The Blue State voters pay an average of $10 per taxpayer and receive $3 per taxpayer in pimento loaf benefits in the form of a block grant from to the states (the actual fair market value of the pimento loaf that reaches taxpayers after the state government takes its cut would be around $1.50 if purchased in the supermarket).

    The Red State voters pay an average of $7 per voter toward the pimento loaf program, but receive $9 per voter in pimento loaf benefits in the form of block grants to the state the actual fair market value of the pimento loaf that reaches taxpayers after the state government takes its cut would be around $4.50 if purchased in the supermarket).

    There is no such thing as free pimento loaf, and of course the feds want something in return. In order to be eligible for pimento loaf block grants, each state must make it illegal to make a left hand turn on red onto a one-way street.

    There numerous possible explanations for why a Red-Stater would be opposed to the pimento loaf program. Here are a few: (1) they fucking hate pimento loaf at any price,and therefore do not value their pimento loaf “windfall”; (2) they recognize that even though their state receives these wonderful grants, the taxpayers still get a raw deal in the end; (3) the taxpayers like taking left turns on red onto a one way street.

  31. Why do liberal states give while conservative states take?

    Veronica apparently hasn’t met Tony.

  32. There is no paradox at all.

    Where do the rich people live? Wherever they live, you are going to get a blue state because the voters want to confiscate the money of the rich who live there. In the states without many rich, you do not get the confiscatory urge from the voters so you get a conservative state.

    1. Why do the rich engage in political activity to confiscate their own money in NY but not in Florida? Oh wait that’s easy. Florida is in the South and they don’t want to share with the blacks.

  33. In the end, the red/blue paradox may be a product of our tendency to look for ideological consistency in politics when there isn’t any.

    Really, that’s all there is to it. There is no paradox.

    1. Totally agree. This is the only worthwhile sentence in the entire article.

  34. The mind-bending efforts to explain this are fairly amusing. All of the confirmation bias is coming right out.

    I think it has more to do with population density and senatorial influence than anything else.

    1. I think it comes down to who has the best hair.

      1. Which is why Texas is a red state but gets federal funds. Our governor has better hair.

        1. Damn, he does!

  35. For all their rhetoric about economic dynamism the Red states tend to be economic backwaters and the blue states economic dynamos.

    That would explain why Blue States have lost a fuckton of jobs in the last several years, while what little job growth we’ve had is mostly in Red States.

    And, of course, there’s the ongoing population shift from Blue to Red States.

    Apparently, you can tell an economic dynamo by the way jobs and people flee from it.

      1. Damned squirrels.

        And, of course, there’s the ongoing population shift from Blue to Red States.

        Wonder what the role of cost of living is here.

        That would explain why Blue States have lost a fuckton of jobs in the last several years, while what little job growth we’ve had is mostly in Red States.

        Even assuming that this is true, you would expect the states with more jobs to lose more jobs. As the states with larger populations also have a larger housing industry, you would expect their path out from under its collapse to be longer and slower.

        1. Wonder what the role of cost of living is here.

          True. But part of that cost of living can be associated with a larger government burden. So the basic thesis stands.

          Even assuming that this is true, you would expect the states with more jobs to lose more jobs.

          I think RC is claiming that the larger, bluer states have had massive job loss while (at least some of) the red states have had job growth. So your objection doesn’t hit its target. Note – I have no idea whether red states have had job growth and don’t really care.

          1. …part of that cost of living can be associated with a larger government burden. So the basic thesis stands.

            Not so sure. I think market forces dominate the difference in cost of living. The government burden is at the margins…it doesn’t explain much of the variance I am sure.

            I think RC is claiming that the larger, bluer states have had massive job loss while (at least some of) the red states have had job growth. So your objection doesn’t hit its target. Note – I have no idea whether red states have had job growth and don’t really care.

            Sure, sure. I was mainly focused on his “fuckton” of loss versus “little growth.” The basic thesis being that the smaller economies of the Red States are somehow “better” or “more like economic dynamos” or something. Not sure it holds up under scrutiny.

            1. The government burden is at the margins

              If so, it doesn’t matter when the measurement is purely positive or negative. A state getting back 101% and a state getting back 99% are in two different categories though their differences are marginal.

              In the end the blue/red thing is pointless in this context. It’s column filler, gotta have content whether it’s wheat or chaff.

  36. The answer is pretty simple:

    Roads and other government services (like say farm subsidies) cost more per person in rural areas then in metropolitan areas.

    If one looked at spending in rural areas vs metropolitan areas in Blue states i am sure you would find the same disparity.

    Not rocket science…we spend to much government money on rural lifestyles…time to stop doing that.

  37. How about this?

    Corn and Cattle are grown in Iowa.
    Farm subsidies go to Iowa.
    These products are moved over 1000 miles of road. 800 miles are in red states, 200 are in Blue. There are 5M people in those multiple Red States and 15M in the one Blue. The highspeed rail system we’re going to replace the road with, will cost 1B, spread evenly by mile.
    Therefore, the Blue state payers are on the hook for $13.33 each; the Red States are on the hook for $160 dollars each.

    1. … all so that people in the one blue county of the blue state can receive the corn and cattle.

  38. If you took away the blue state’s money (say, by secession – which I highly recommend), then the individuals in the red states would be much better off. Where government activity withdraws, private activity rises to replace it and with that we will see economic growth, technological and process innovation, and a higher quality of life.

  39. So many complex answers to a simple question.

    The answer is in the title of the publication: “Reason”. The author confuses what you want with what you can get. The reasonable answer is just plain good business/selfishness, frankly I’d be surprised & disappointed if it were the other way around.

    Forget we’re talking about government for a moment. Think about your household or business. Do you want to work to a situation where you bring in more money than you spend on a monthly basis? Of course you do. You don’t spend more in charity each month than you earn. You’re rational. Do businesses hold onto accounts that stay in the red? No. Now: do you want to run your state like your house or business, or do you want to spend money you don’t have on a social state?

    While red states may aim to structure policy to reduce government and taxes, why should they not practice good old selfishness and take advantage of the situation they are currently in? Let the more liberal states pay for their social programs. Just because you want to get rid of something, there’s no reason you shouldn’t take advantage of it while it exists. Kudos to those states getting more from the Fed than they pay.

    It is the only reasonable thing to do.

    1. . Do you want to work to a situation where you bring in more money than you spend on a monthly basis? Of course you do.

      But for some reason the federal government isn’t allowed to operate like that. A surplus means we have to cut taxes. (Then a recession comes and that means we have to cut taxes too.)

      why should they not practice good old selfishness and take advantage of the situation they are currently in?

      We usually call that hypocrisy, so use it as an excuse if you want to. Nobody forced the right to be ideologues, but they do care more about the philosophy than the reality, so that they can’t stick to their guns might mean that their philosophy is just in error.

      1. Which is to say, the feds are supposed to act like a household that demands a pay cut every time it brings home any money, then demands another one once the parents lose their job and run up their credit cards.

        1. If you’re wondering how people demand a pay cut from jobs they no longer have, so am I. I am not good with analogies.

      2. “But for some reason the federal government isn’t allowed to operate like that”

        The household or business has to actually EARN the money it takes in by providing something to someone else who wants it and volutarily agrees to pay for it.

        So, yeah it’s too bad the federal government isn’t allowed to operate like that.

        That would mean bye-bye to it’s unconstitutional wealth redistribution activities.

  40. Answer is that low population states sill need hundreds of miles of highway construction to keep the national standard for highway quality. Govt in theory provides infrastructure that enables interstate commerce to thrive, and the highway system is an example where that is basically true…the rate of goods value flow over the highways justifies keeping adequate contruction standards.

  41. These studies never pass the smell test. Who conducts the studies? Do they come from large urban centers or from lefty faculties? Might they have agendas? Why would big government advocating politicians cooperate if their states are net losers?

    Here’s an explanation:

    The politically powerful, government oriented blue states enact legislation that benefits mostly blue states, like say a beneficial financial industry regulation change or a law that gives a competitive advantage to a company in a blue state, and bribe red state politicians for their votes with earmarks or other pet spending project. The benefit of the legislation accrues to the blue state but doesn’t show up as a tax outlay.

    1. I think this is the correct analysis. It also explains why inhabitants red states tend to be more sceptical of federal programs than those in larger blue states.

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  43. Why do liberal states give, while conservatives take?

    Perhaps because (1) liberals are giving other people’s money, and (2) conservatives are taking back what liberals took?

  44. Veronique, did you factor in the sheer amount of Federal facilities in red states compared to blue states? The majority of land in Western states is under direct Federal control (military bases, National Parks, highways, prisons, gunnery ranges, wilderness areas, etc).

    Those things cost MASSIVE amounts of money, and since there are far fewer of them in blue states, the numbers are skewed.

    If you remove the spending on those things from the equation, blue states are money pits and the red states are footing the bill.

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  46. I have lived in several high income neighborhoods in blue states and they are riddled with Democrats. It has always been obvious to me why these high earners (lawyers, bankers, accountants, etc.) vote for big government. It’s not because they get welfare checks–they get much more than that. Much of their business comes from massive amounts of work generated from laws, regulations, etc. In addition, some of these industries are artificially created oligopolies with barriers to entry created by government action, and in the case of commercial banks, exorbitant profits based on the fundamentally corrupt, government-sponsored fractional reserve banking system. It’s not a paradox at all, people who benefit from big government support for big government.

    1. Entirely agree. If you live in a Blue state, especially from DC to Boston, you can literally see it firsthand in the government employee parking lots and in who owns the boats at all those marinas.

  47. What a stupid article. There are Democrats in those red states as there are Republicans in those blue states. No where is there ANY statistic that measures which political party you are a part of when paying income taxes. Majority of small business owners are Republican.

    Another issue is that in those Southern states, there are high concentrations of blacks and minorities. Yeah, this article is too PC to address the real facts of subsidies in red states… who actually gets the welfare.

  48. This article could be used in research design classes to illustrate the pitfalls of the ecological fallacy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecological_fallacy.

    The author’s apparent implication (Democrats subsidize Republicans) does not follow in any way from the data she presents. It could as well be the other way around. Her error arises from assuming that the tax payers and subsidy receivers have the same characteristics as the general population of the state in which they reside. Really stupid assumption.

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  50. It’s actually very easy to understand. Red states don’t have usurious taxes for small business owners. Blue states do. The federal welfare bureaucracy is largely independent of the states, and operate as they please regardless of the will of the voting public. Low taxes and steady bureaucratic corruption means a net loss to the federal government, while high taxes and steady bureaucratic corruption lead to a net gain.

    Why do rich people vote Democrat? Because if they’re members of the government bureaucracy, they are net winners from high taxes. The welfare bureaucracy enriches the bureaucrats who run the system, not the poor people they are mandated to serve. If Democrats get into power, they immediately raise the taxes on working people, which then raises the contribution of the state. It also raises the living standards of the rich bureaucrats.

    If you want to see where this sort of thing eventually leads, look at Detroit.

  51. 50 laboratories of democracy after sorting them based on how their

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