defends Massachusetts against the implicit attacks which George W. Bush levelled against it last night. The core of Noah's argument is that the much-maligned liberal hotbed of "Taxachussets" pays a heck of a lot more into federal coffers than it takes out -- in other words, it is a net giver to the country as a whole.
He links to Tax Foundation table of federal expenditures and receipts state-by-state.
I found this table absolutely fascinating.
I dropped this data into Excel, re-ordered the states by their FY2002 rank, and created a new column which represents the current (as of today) state poll standings for Kerry vs. Bush, taken from electoral-vote.com. Using Excel's handy conditional formatting, I colored this column blue if Kerry is +4 or greater, red if Bush is +4 or greater, and grey if the state is from -3 to +3.
The results are quite interesting, to say the least.
I am happy to send this original Excel document to anyone who wants it, but I have attached, for easy viewing purposes, a .jpg of the table. The main impact is visual, and the message it conveys is simple:
States which are net givers to the federal pie predominantly vote for Kerry, while states that are net takers from the federal pie predominantly vote for Bush.
This Bush hegemony of the dependent includes a large number of Western and Great Plains states where the "culture of self-sufficiency" and derision of poor urban welfare freeloaders are wildly predominant points of view.
A couple other observations jump out:
1) Just 16 states (about 1/3) are net givers, while 32 (about 2/3) are net takers. Two (FL, OR) are even at 1.00. This means that, grossly speaking, the givers have large economies, while the takers have small economies. Since the leading 16 are dramatically more liberal than the trailing 32, we can also conclude that as one's economy grows and one's state becomes more prosperous, it also becomes more liberal.
2) This is most aptly demonstrated by the case of Colorado, which has leaped 17 places on the list between 1992 and 2002, from significant net taker (1.06) to significant net giver (.79). In the same 10 years, the modern economy of Colorado has exploded; its population has vastly increased; and the state has become significantly more liberal, to the point where it remains very much in play for the Presidental election, despite its as-of-today +6 for Bush poll standing.
I could go off in any number of directions with this data set, but I'll leave that to the members of the list. If I have the time, I intend to drop in some state GNP data, and also electoral-vote data and possibly population data, so we can see the typical profile of liberal vs. conservative states.
Two points that I will add are:
a) I am just now finishing Neal Stephenson's 3-volume, 3000 page novel on the Baroque era, when both the Scientific Revolution and the commercial revolution transformed first England, and then the world. Stephenson has done a superb job of laying out that the competing factions of Whigs & Tories in England fought, quite explicitly, over whether the wealth of England would be based on commerce (the Whigs) or on land (the Tories, allies of the aristocracy). Fortunately for all of us, the Whigs won - I'm much happier as I am that I would have been as a gentleman's man-servant, I suspect. This recent exposure to these ideas, when added to the visual impact of this attached data, causes me to wonder if similar arguments can be made -- on the basis of this hard data -- about the different political parties of the United States.
b) I am going to go way out on a limb, and say that not only will Kerry win the election, but that he will win the election by capturing swing states Colorado, Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Nevada, Florida, and New Jersey. A glance at the list will demonstrate why I chose these.