Wednesday, November 10, 2004
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Another mostly useless correlation
In the past week there have been a great deal of chatter about how the high correlation between the states that voted for Bush and -- well, let's see, there's the prior practice of slavery, IQ (though this one is apparently a hoax -- click here for more), obesity (OK, that was in 2000, but I guarantee someone's going to post something about it for 2004), "lasting contribution(s) to freedom, culture and progress (in the blue states)," and "virtually every form of quantifiable social dysfunction."
As reluctant as I am to wade in on this -- because all these comparisons demonstrate are potentially spurious correlations -- it's worth pointing out that there are metrics on which the Red states look much nicer than the Blue states. Take, for example, generosity. Laura Walsh explains for the Associated Press:
You can see the entire list by clicking here. You have to go 26 places before a blue state pops up (New York). My suspicion is that if non-itemized deductions and volunteering were included, the observed correlation would only increase, since one would expect the wealthier states to substitute money for time in terms of altruism, and non-itemized deductions would include a greater number of smaller donations by the less affluent -- and there are more of these people in the red states. That's just a hunch, though.
Again, to derive the conclusion that Bush voters are more altruistic than Kerry voters from this data is absurd -- but just as absurd as the other correlations that have been posted.posted by Dan on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM
You may have a point on a personal level, I have no idea.
What is clear though is that the Blue states are far more generous in providing their Federal tax dollars for redistribution to the lazy NASCAR welfare dads of the Red States. Something like seven cents of every Blue state tax dollar goes towards propping up the redneck lifestyle, much of this through agricultural subsidies. Surely those prophets of the free market in the Republican party will put a stop to this evil Blue Tax before our cowboy welfare recipients build such a huge dependency of their handouts that people start questioning whether its not fear of a hard day’s work instead of moral values that is helping keep these states Red.
Kevin, instead of looking at states, let's look at voters as a whole.
The top 3 income groups, who pay all the income taxes and most of the rest of taxes, voted for Bush.
The bottom two income groups, who don't pay any federal income taxes, and who are the beneficiaries of many federal transfer programs, voted for Kerry.posted by: Matthew Cromer on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
I didn't look at the underlying study, but it seems to me that if you have a society in which Church fills many roles (spiritual, entertainment, psychological, etc.), then you might find the populace giving much of its money to the church, and having that coded as "charitable giving." But really, it looks like their just paying the same person (the Church) for that which they substitute for our movie tickets, psychologists, etc.posted by: SomeCallMeTim on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
Dan, your reluctance to weigh in on this represented a good instinct. Democrat sniping at "red" states is just post-election sour grapes. Republican countersniping is what we would have gotten first if Kerry had won last week.
As a Republican I'd be perfectly content to let bitter Democratic putdowns of states that voted Republican go unanswered -- they'll generate plenty of helpful backlash without any assistance from me.posted by: Zathras on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
Comparing the charitable donations of Church goers to those of non-Church goers is comparing apples with oranges. To religious folks, the Church is often the center of the community. Church picnics are social occasions, and the kids' after-school activities are Church related. So, if you're a member of a Church and you send your kid off to play basketball, its paid for by your charitable contribution to the Church. If you're not a member of a Church and you send your kid off to play basketball, its at some private league for which you pay a non-charitable contribution to the gym. This issue will only become more exacerbated as mega-Churches grow in large cities.posted by: mike on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
Church goers do contribute more money than non-churchgoers, and some of it clearly represents consumption rather than charity (to me, anyway), but I think that's true for most charity.
The IQ thing is a hoax. The Economist published a passing reference to it and had to apologize... Obesity isn't, though. Stupid fat NASCAR people.
Uh, just kidding. No sour grapes here. I was born in a red state, grew up in another one and went to college in a third. Still, grr...
And yes, I'm almost certain the "charity" numbers include church donations. Without them I imagine we'd see very different numbers. And I, as a secular (not to say atheist) American don't see supporting a church as charity, unless you could count only the money that goes to poverty alleviation. (Not, say, the upkeep of the rectory or proselytizing efforts.)posted by: Contributor A on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
If you'll recall, charity giving took of great guns under Reagan's tax cuts, nation-wide. The principle being, when poeple have more to give, they do.
Breaking that down by state, please consdier the tax rates in the blue states. This may be more directly a matter of tax policy, not of a more or less charitable ideolgy, per se'.posted by: Bithead on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
It just seems to me that red states prefer to give to churches as their means of charity, whereas blue states give to the state with higher taxes and the 'charity' given being better social services, unemployment benefits, minimum wage, etc etc.
And just as with the red states, some of the "charitable donations" are more akin to consumption... as even the non-needy benefit from social services sometimes.posted by: rawb on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
rawb: It's spurious to equate paying taxes to making free-will offerings to charity. The former is coerced and required of everyone; the latter is a manifestation of personal values.posted by: Scott Ferguson on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
It ain't charity if you have to pay. . .posted by: Matthew Cromer on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
A lot of those high-ranking Southern red states have large African-American populations, who consistently give much larger portions of their incomes to charity than white people. (I hope some cracker challenges me on this fact.) Guess who they voted for?
A similar issue could be true for characteristics where blue states look better. These comparisons have little value, IMO.posted by: Brian S. on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
Right Brian. "These comparisons have little value", but here's one to prove that my guy's voters are better anyway.posted by: Charlie (Colorado) on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
I hate to be a cynic, but doesn't an average charitable giving of $3,455 seem a little high? I wonder if this is more an index of tax fraud than real giving? It's certainly hard to see this as no-strings-attached giving.posted by: Dan Ryan on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
I'd like to give a shout out to Zathras who, once again, proves himself the classiest commenter on this site.
I too question the raw numbers here, but keep in mind the "used stuff" donations that generate a huge percentage of rich people's "charity" in ALL states, especially in the upper tax brackets. Hey, I'm guilty too. But at least I acknowledge it sucks. "Here poor person, wear my threadbare gym shorts and last year's snowboats. Here's a crappy car that barely runs, Salvation Army. And a nickel for the kettle." You can easily rack up a couple thou in "donations" thusly.
And you people trashing people's church-giving really raise my secularist hackles. If you knew anything about how much most of these churches do for their communities (yes, of believers, but also of non-believers here and abroad) you'd shut up pretty fast. Methinks I smell a guilty conscience or two here...posted by: Kelli on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
How about population trends? Has there been any net movement from blue states to red, or vice versa, over the past X years?posted by: tom harrison on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
What a dichotomy there is between the moral high road, the high level of giving, the value the church brings to the community and the equally high level of support given to the administration dishing out the collateral damage in Falluja.
One of those "moral moms" at a recent church get-together was telling me that we could get the job done quicker if we stopped being weenies about bombing mosques where all the terrorists are hiding. I guess morality too, is in the eyes of the beholders.posted by: germ on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
"And you people trashing people's church-giving really raise my secularist hackles. If you knew anything about how much most of these churches do for their communities (yes, of believers, but also of non-believers here and abroad) you'd shut up pretty fast. Methinks I smell a guilty conscience or two here..."
Why is it that Christians don't seem to recognize that Muslims have morals, too? Christian giving is for good; Muslim giving is for terror; right?
It was about time we return to our moral Christian roots, while we stay the course winning the hearts and minds of Fallujans. Or does charity include giving $87 billion to that cause?posted by: germ on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
The red states probably have higher charity giving because they have more local need.
It would be interesting to see a similar list adjusted so that the "having" column accounts for tax flows.
Of course, if we had a voting method that selected centrists by design (like, say, Condorcet or Approval), we wouldn't be seeing all this bitterness and sour grapes.posted by: fling93 on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
I'll bet you're really popular at those church get-togethers. If I met you at one I'd probably end up saying "Just Nuke 'em. Nuke em all." Not because I meant it, just because you seem to bring out the best in folks:)posted by: Kelli on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
Come on guys...has no one noticed the biggest flaw with this ranking?
The rank is based on the difference between a state's "Having Rank" and its "Giving Rank". Therefore, Connecticut can finish no higher than a net "0". The less you have in this ranking, the easier it is to gain places.
Even if Mississippi gave virtually nothing, they would STILL finish higher than Connecticut. Yes, many red states are high in the "Giving Rank", but their relative poverty is what causes them to dominate this list.posted by: thmcnutt on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
I notice not one of you "Blue State Triumphalists" has commented on the fact that Bush VOTERS pay the taxes that you Kerry VOTERS fail to shoulder.
The top three income quintiles pay virtually 100% of Federal Income tax, and they all voted for Bush (the top quintile, overwhelmingly so). The bottom two quintiles (net tax recipients) gave Kerry the nod.
I agree with Dan, these analyses are stupid, but the most important one for the future is the fact that the Red states are growing in population and the blue states are stagnating. Probably because of those counter-productive blue-state taxation and regulation regimes.posted by: Matthew Cromer on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
Good catch, thmcnutt. Another interesting observation can be made by going to their spread sheet of raw data and sorting the M column (percentage of returns with itemized charitable deductions):
1. Maryland 44.5 %
So what does this mean? Many more people in (mostly) blue states itemize their deductions than in red states. That is mostly a direct function of the higher average income of these people and the higher housing prices in those states - they pay higher state taxes, higher property taxes, higher mortgage payments etc., and thus they are more likely to exceed the standard deduction and itemize deductions.
So a lot of people with small charitable contributions will still itemize deductions, whereas in red states many of those with small charitable contributions simply don't show up in this spread sheet at all.
This doesn't prove anything one way or another. Quite possibly there a lot of very generous red staters who give a lot to charity, but don't exceed the standard deduction and thus fall out of the statistics. Or maybe not. In any case, this "generosity index" is bullshit.
There are a couple of points to note in response.
1. IIRC, there is pretty strong evidence that upper income voters tend to be socially liberal paycheck voters - they vote for the tax cuts, often believing nothing will really get done by the govt. anyway, no matter what a candidate claims. I believe there are a host of surveys indicating that upper income voters' positions hew much closer to that of the Democratic Party than that of the Republican Party.
2. At least one of the questions that has to be answered (by either side making these sorts of revenue claims) is whether the relevant measuring unit of wealth creation is the individual, the city, or the state, or whatever. For example, there are lots of people who will argue that Sillicon Valley and Rte 128 exist because of the "culture" of the area - fairly liberal-liberterian, highly educated population. They won't all get rich, but they represent the population portfolio you need for individual wealth creation.
Some Republicans tend to have a natural law view of the world, and tend to believe that the relevant unit is the individual. If we go strongly federal, that should be clear over time. You'd expect the red states to restrict benefits enormously, and drop their taxes as a result. Blue state Pubs could move to better environs and be even more productive and profitable in red states. Indeed, I believe many red states do have lower taxes even now, so you could probably compare upper income brackets (perhaps as percentiles) and see who is more productive and profitable.
I happen to think the measure is larger than the individual (probably something like the city), but we won't know till we go federal.posted by: SomeCallMeTim on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
thmcnutt: You are correct about the way in which the index is constructed -- but I don't think a different metric would change the correlation. Even if you look only at the giving rank, the correlation is still pretty strong. Nine of the top ten states in per capita giving are red states (New York is the exception). Seven of the ten worst states in terms of giving alone are blue states (Ohio, Montana, and Iowa are the exceptions).
The fact that the blue states are on average much richer just accentuates the gap between the two in the generosity measure.posted by: Dan Drezner on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
Seven of the ten worst states in terms of giving alone are blue states
Again Dan, that's worst in terms of average charitable donation among people who itemize deductions. Which is a pretty small subset of all people in many of the red states.
I live in New Jersey. We are one of the wealthiest states in the union. I would love to see the county breakdown - if there was one ... I think there are 3 New Jersey counties (at least recently) that are in the top 20 nation-wide with respect to income.
Notice where NJ sits on that list.
Our pastor told a group of us once that a reliable trend is seen throughout most churches, where the families with the least income usually contribute the most $ - percentage wise.posted by: notthisgirl on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
That's just nonsense.
Check the numbers for NY, for example.posted by: GT on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
this point is almost too obvious to make, but I'll make it anyway:
If I have resolved to dedicate 10% of my income to helping others less fortunate then me, and live in a zero-tax state, I would donate 10% of my income to charity. If I then move to a state that has a 3% "social tax" that all goes into helping the poor, to first order I would cut my direct charitable giving to 7% of my pre-tax income.
There are of course second order effects as well, such as living in a "culture of giving" (if everyone else gives alot [in a low tax state], you may feel coereced into giving more too) or people who would of wanted to give 0% to charity but are forced to live in a high poor-tax state, or knowing that if everyone else is forced to give, one might be inclined to give more since one feels cheated if they were only one giving, or less because one feels the problem has been addressed, or more because they think the state poor tax is wasteful, or...etc But to first order one might think in theory that charity and poor-taxes are substitutes.posted by: wml on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
Quit pretending to disdain these correlations. They are wonderful. I'd like to see 50 or 60 of them, not to take cheapshots, but to paint a really rich picture of a nation full of nuance and contradiction. But as for charitable giving, I wonder how many blues cut their charitable donations to free up dollars for the Kerry campaign.posted by: Buce on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
While it may seem like sour grapes to chart such red state voter dysfunctions as low IQ, obesity or whatever, there may be more to it than meets the eye.
I read that red state voters often become more generous after alien encounters. So it all may be due to factors we simply cannot comprehend.posted by: wishIwuz2 on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
notthisgirl is undoubtedly right. "The widow's mite" is not some fairy tale. Take it from someone who married up and has observed how tight rich people are with their money.
I think we're all overlooking a key difference in giving between (stereotypical) red staters and blue staters. That is, quite simply, that red staters will give more voluntarily to organizations that do not hesitate to distinguish between "deserving" and "undeserving" poor, while blue staters are squeamish about laying any "heavy" moral judgments on people, so will give via taxes which will be distributed to all below a certain threshold.
Since Dan is unwilling to push this thread toward its logical conclusion, I'll jump in. The Democrats cannot win over Red Staters until they acknowledge voters' general hostility to amoral state-run welfare policy.
I've read a lot of bogus reasoning about how working class Red Staters fail to recognize that the Democrats would give them more freebies than the Republicans do. All that false consciousness talk reminds me of the facile socialism of grad school, but it gets us no closer to understanding each others' positions.
If people close to the poverty line themselves tend to give more to charity, while looking down on BOTH those who demand more from them in taxes AND those who look too eager to take advantage of government welfare, that may not equate to "false consciousness" at all. It may be that they have a clearer sense of fair play, and know that to offer something for nothing to the less than industrious guy down the street means someone is going to have to kick in even more to the collective kitty.
Or, to put it another way, non-wealthy Americans refuse (despite the best effort of Democratic pundits) to see themselves as potential victims of capitalism needing state aid, preferring to see themselves as hard-working and self-sufficient members of a (largely) fair (and yes, even "moral") universe. Go figure.posted by: email@example.com on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
Sorry kmkobor but red states are mostly subsidized by blue states. Farm subsidies are a prime example of this.
All this talk of red state self sufficiency is nonsense they tell themselves.posted by: GT on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
The numbers are for the electorate as a whole, printed in your very own NY Times here.
I'm not very concerned what the residents of one particularly self-absorbed metropolis vote for as a whole. For the US as a whole it's clear that the people who pay the income taxes voted for Bush (mostly) while the Federal Lucky Duckies voted for Kerry (mostly). It's clear the Bush voters are subsidizing the Kerry voters as a whole.
Now I'm not one of those who thinks these sorts of analyses are actually useful as polemic argument. But since your side started the nonsense. . .posted by: Matthew Cromer on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
Like I wrtote, read the numbers.
In NY Kerry won among all income groups except the top 6% and even there he lost 57-42. So your premise is wrong.posted by: GT on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
We're Dems, and therefore givers. All we want to do is make it possible for red-states to be even more self-sufficient, hard-working, and fair. So support federalism, devolvement of benefits, and states figuring out what to do themselves. And in return, we won't be in the way of your efforts to make your red state as moral as possible.
You should be for this. Think of all these years that the red states have been forced to carry the slacker blue states. Shouldn't the pain end?posted by: SomeCallMeTim on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
Support strong federalism, and we'll get the necessary evidence to prove your thesis. High income blue-stater/red-voters will move to red states; blue states will lose the income and become chastened. Heck, in under a decade, we'll probably come whining to you, begging for you to instruct us. On top of which, red states will become the rich states - you'll have the economic engines to rule forever.
Are you on board with us, then?posted by: SomeCallMeTim on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
Snarky attitudes like Germ are unhelpful. Some, but not all, Islamic charities were clearly supporting terrorism. I believe it was also illegal when Sein Fein supporters contributed to IRA activities.posted by: MWS on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
Just remember that drinking bottled water leads to higher SAT scores (according to another dubious correlation). And if bottled water makes you smarter, why Evian must be trying to create blue staters! Alert the press! They're messing with our precious fluids!
Bogus correlations are actually kinda fun.posted by: PaulNoonan on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
I'm a libertarian. Of course I support strong federalism. You're also correct that the high-tax high-regulation policies drive away achievers -- that's why these states (mostly blue) are stagnant and the states with low taxation and regulation (mostly red) are gaining jobs.
Why should I care about who voted in NY? I never said Bush won over the majority of NYC high income voters -- I said he won over the majority of high income voters nationally. The fact that many New Yorkers are chugging the kool aid is not news to me.posted by: Matthew Cromer on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
With respect to the higher income correlation to Bush voters, while this may be true overall, it doesn't seem to track closely for the coastal Blue states. I checked exit poll results (for what they're worth) from CNN.com, specifically the results from NY, NJ, CA, WA, OR, ME and MD. A lot of wealthy and well-off (100K plus) folks voted for Kerry (especially in MD, OR and WA). I believe a majority of the 100K plus folks in these states voted for Kerry.posted by: YS on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
you just don't get it. It's not NYC, its NY state. And the same applies to other blue states.
Blue states subsidize red states. That is a fact.
You argued that it is high income GOP voters in blue states that pay the taxes. I showed you that was wrong.posted by: GT on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
Oh and Matt, many red states are growing faster than blue states because they are poorer and it is easier to catch up. Just like China is growing faster than the US.posted by: GT on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
However you slice it, it looks like we have consensus - federalism, baby! Trying to force the other side to accept your justification for an action they are willing to take on other grounds is wasted effort and just plain silly.
Federalism, baby!posted by: SomeCallMeTim on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
Equating taxes to charity is crap, and is one of the major reasons Europe is such a mess. Charity as it exists in the US is virtuallu non-existant in much of Europe.
We would all do well to recall that the limosine liberals making this argument dont pay crap in taxes any way. Teresa Heinz-Kerry pays 12%? Some charity.posted by: Mark Buehner on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
Absurd or not, the charitable donation correlation sounds a little too real to me.
I'm a Unitarian, which is about as liberal and Democratic as a church can get. Our membership tends to be both wealthy and well-educated. And I live in a red state (North Carolina). "Church" and "red state" would suggest high donation by this correlation, right? Wrong. Getting enough donations to meet even a minimal budget is like pulling teeth, and the numbers run way below the more conservative churches in the area.
There may be issues of community involvement here; volunteerism tends to run low, too, and the historical record at our church indicates a positive correlation between giving time and giving money. People are generous with both, or neither.
The wealthy do tend to have more alternatives for community involvement, and maybe that's a consideration. But I wouldn't write off the "generosity correlation" too quickly.posted by: diane wilson on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
I have to admit: Matthew Cromer's ability to spin the fact that rich people outside of the Northeast supposedly voted for Bush into something that Kerry voters have to be ashamed of is amazing.
(And all this based on no less than those unreliable exit polls that we have to discount unless we are conspiracy theorists!)
Let's do them a favor and put those NASCAR welfare kings to work; federalism most certainly is the answer here. We seem to have broad consensus, lets cut those agricultural subsidies and put the cowboys back into real 9-5 jobs. Surely they are too proud to gobble up all the spillage from the Federal teat, besides it looks nasty dripping off those funny hats they wear.
Most American wealth is created in five true blue locations, the greater metropolitan areas of New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Boston. You can thank the quasi-socialist, early 60’s bipartisan policies that created the California public school system that in turn created Silicon Valley for a huge part of that wealth. Talented working class students easily progressed into the elite colleges because of the junior college system. I mean think about it, if growing wheat created so much wealth, the Ukraine would be one seriously rich country. But you know what? They are dirt poor over there and Kansas would be too if not for the kind donations from the coffers of the productive Blue states.
So come on people, some of you are claiming that these subsidies don’t matter. Put your political future where your mouth is and join with me in calling for an immediate halt to all Blue to Red transfers of wealth.
Mark and Diane,
Interesting anecdote related to your last notes. My well-heeled suburb has a "porch-light giving" night in which (creepily) a neighbor comes by to pick up a check for the United Way. So much for anonymity. As they should, my mostly Red State-type neighbors in the midst of a very Blue State, respond to this subtle coercion by writing three and four digit checks (all tax deductible, right?).
So I'm at another neighbor's house (European-born academics, well-off but not super rich) when the conversation turns to this subject. Unbidden, the 30-something German wife confesses that her first year in town she asked how much she should give and was told that the average was about two hundred dollars. Aghast, she wrote a check for twenty. This year she said she broke down and increased the donation to fifty.
While she won points for candor and willingness to stand up to very pointed peer pressure, I had to wonder at her stinginess. She was certainly within her rights to give only a token amount, but knowing as she does how dependent the American safety net is on private charity, she cannot credibly lay claim to having "given" through the IRS.
Maybe we can all agree on at least one point: most American charitable giving is based partly on guilt and partly on a sense of fairness. Both of these are impacted by how much we see taken out of our checks every other week by state, local and federal entities. We are also a highly mobile society, thus have a decent idea of how our homestate compares with others. From my own experience having lived in both Red and Blue states, I give less when the government bite is harder and deeper than I would like, more when it seems to hurt less. I doubt I'm alone here. What say you all?posted by: Kelli on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
I remember the old adage, "Think globally, act locally."
Might residents of Connecticut and Mississippi be acting on this (whether they've actually heard it or not)? Connecticut residents don't see, locally, a great need for charity, so don't give it. Mississppi residents do see the need in their communities, and act accordingly.
Just a thought. I'm sure it will offend people who'd rather think in partisan/parochial/sarcastic terms.posted by: Andrew Steele on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
"Most American wealth is created in five true blue locations, the greater metropolitan areas of New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Boston."
Do you have _any_ evidence to support this? Particularly on a per capita basis? The real growth in this nation is taking place in places like Atlanta, Denver, Las Vegas, and Phoenix. Chicago (my home) has been hemoraging coorperations and industries to ultra conservative Dupage county for years, meanwhile tons of commuters live in big Red Indiana. If you look at the most valuable business interests in America, they are all over. Boeing and Microsoft in Washington, the car manufacturers in Michigan and Kentucky, tourism in Nevada, Florida, California, NY, Hawaii, manufacturing everywhere. This country wouldnt get far without the farm belt or the natural resources in Texas, Alaska, and Appalachia. What a silly thing to say.posted by: Mark Buehner on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
Kevin, it's not that simple. This blue stater (me) likes having National Parks. Most of them are in states that are nominally red this election cycle. I know that you probably realize this and you're exaggerating to make a point, but "all Blue to Red transfers of wealth" would really make us a pretty poor nation, if not in terms of wealth then in terms of so many public goods we enjoy.
The numbers I cited are not based on exit polls, GW. Read the damn article.
PS, your attitude is that of much of your party and shows why you guys lost the election. Americans don't believe that financial success is a *bad* thing. You guys keep mouthing off with that class warfare garbage and see where it gets you in 2006, 2008, etc. Sheesh.posted by: Matthew Cromer on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
Are Americans as mobile as you think? How many of us have lived in multiple states?
And doesn't compassion, as opposed to "fairness" and "guilt" play a role in charitable giving? I'm sure our fearless leader W would say so.
Your reference to the marginal changes in overall tax rate as a significant factor in the level of charitable giving is interesting, and I'd be curious to see the data supporting it (I'm sure someone must have done a study). Any references?posted by: Andrew Steele on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
I think there are two central problems with the "generosity" index:
1) Many middle to upper-class liberals, myself included, see charitable giving as a largely ineffective, scatter-shot approach that doesn't really do much to correct the underlying problems. It's like giving a couple bucks to the homeless guy on the street - makes you feel good, but isn't going to do squat to end homelessness. So, rather than throw our money away like that, we vote to raise our own taxes in order to fund a more universal, systematic, government-run program. That's an act of charity, since it's voting against your own financial self-interest for the benefit of others, but it doesn't get covered in the "generosity index" at all.
2) Much of the charitable giving in Red states undoubtedly goes to church's, and much of that money gets used for missionary work, mega-church building, Christian radio and TV stations, Bible give-aways and other religious purposes which would not normally be considered traditional poverty-oriented charity. It's still generous of the people to give away their own money for the benefit of others, I suppose, but it's kind of an apples to oranges thing with regards to the liberal version of charity.
Alabama is ranked 5th. IF you've been paying attention the past few years, that should tell you all you need to know about the "generosity index".posted by: Jor on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
All generalizations based on statewide data run afoul of the 'Ecological Fallacy'. Without data on individuals, correlated by vote, it is very difficult to draw any useful conclusions at all.posted by: Slithy Tove on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
Dave: So you're saying the government is more efficient than private organizations?posted by: di on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
Has anyone tried to compare the charitable giving states list to a list of the highest taxing states? I would not be surprised to see that the highest taxing states are the lowest charitable giving states, and vice versa.posted by: RAZ on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
Whence Okham's razor?
Why the need for so much agonozing, when the agony is based on the arbitrariness of state borders, the varying definitions of "charity", and the fulminations of statiscians?
Correlation is not causation, yet more of us comment (me thrice) on this than on most other posts. Who cares ... let it go ... how about focusing this blog on foreign policy?
And how about returning to a good old Chicago prof like John Mearsheimer? Let's all, our blogger-in-chief included, get real.
Back to the future, anyone?posted by: Andrew Steele on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
Matthew Cromer: The numbers I cited are not based on exit polls, GW. Read the damn article.
Umm, that "damn article", i.e. the one from the NY Times that you referred to, summarized exit poll results. (Oh, you didn't know that the "National Election Pool" conducted the exit polls? See "What is the National
your attitude is that of much of your party
I'm not a member of any party.
Americans don't believe that financial success is a *bad* thing.
Neither do I.
You guys keep mouthing off with that class warfare garbage
Ha, I win again! (And you should be happy for me, because success is a GOOD thing!) My personal bet, I mean - that you would accuse me of "class warfare" in your response. That was quite predictable indeed. It's really by the book (Frank's, for example) - you guys are the ones actually engaging in class warfare (top to bottom class warfare, that is), but then accuse those who criticize you of the same. Let's see how long it takes until more people will figure this out.
To what extent is the greater individual charity in the Red States the result of the fact that those states are chintzier in using the government to redistribute aid to their needy -- and, more importantly, to what extent does it COMPENSATE for that lesser governmental assistance? Not nearly enough, I suspect.posted by: Bruce Moomaw on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
You really must provide links for the following claim you made, "The top three income quintiles pay virtually 100% of Federal Income tax, and they all voted for Bush (the top quintile, overwhelmingly so). The bottom two quintiles (net tax recipients) gave Kerry the nod."
Right off the bat we can say that billionaires Warren Buffet, George Soros, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates' dad, Steve Wozniak, Theresa Heinz Kerry, and Steve Jobs did not vote for Bush. Also, many of the billionaire club have come out in support of keeping the inheritance tax (the so-called death tax) and are embarrassed to be receiving the bulk of the tax cuts (yes, they could donate it to reduce the deficit but that is another issue). When you consider that most of the people in the upper 3 quintiles are living in blue states, I'm not sure how you can make your claim.posted by: wesleyk on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
Wesley, I did provide a link. Read the whole thread.
Anyone who postulates that large scale, long term government programs for the "needy" is socially desirable has obviously slept through the 1990s.
In case you didn't read this from Marshall's post:
"The oddity of this Red State moralism argument emerges most clearly when you look at statistics for virtually every form of quantifiable social dysfunction. Divorce, out-of-wedlock birth, poverty, murder, incidence of preventable disease --- go down the list and you’ll see that they are all highest in the reddest states and lowest in the bluest."
I don't know why this is so but you can't deny hard data, although he notes later that some of the plains red states are not so low on some of the lists. Seems like the charitable giving is not effective if the point is to help create a better society. It does look like a high proportion much be going to areas that are not effectively spending it.posted by: charity on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
Mathew - You referred us in your link to a generic article that was based on a survey of 13,000 people. The only specificity regarding earnings was the phrase "high earners." And, we were cautioned that due to perculiarities of the survey, info regarding Jewish people and Asian Americans couldn't be extrapolated. When you consider the high earnings relative to the population of both these groups, and that we do know that 78% of the Jewish vote went to Kerry, we can say that the survey in the link you base your claims on is not reliable. In addition, you can't claim the middle quintile as a high earnings category because, after all, it is the middle quintile. Whom do you think tenured science professors voted for? Or high earners in the medical research field ? Or union foremen making $60,000? Do you really think that as a group people with master's+ degrees, who overwhelmingly went for Kerry, are in the lowest 2 quintiles? Even our esteemed site host, from the hardly liberal bastion the University of Chicago, went for Kerry.posted by: wesleyk on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
There was a chart referenced in the article. Guess you missed it.posted by: Matthew Cromer on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
You also are trying to counter a survey of many thousands with a few points of anecdotal data. Sorry, not gonna cut it.posted by: Matthew Cromer on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
Blah, blah blah. You all suck. Giving is giving. Those who don't give, give later. Any questions?
Those of you who think you give, yet decry others who don't give like you will also find later on that there is much giving to be had by all.
You are all going to give, one way or another. Get used to it.posted by: King on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
Blah, blah blah. You all suck. Giving is giving. Those who don't give, give later. Any questions?
Those of you who think you give, yet decry others who don't give like you will also find later on that there is much giving to be had by all.
You are all going to give, one way or another. Get used to it.posted by: King on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
Sweet, the message is doubly reinforced. However, some of you are still not listening. Why is that? Do your puny maps server some purpose?
Kneel, cowards. Did I mention my favorite color is blue, no red, aieeeeh!posted by: King on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
Surely you realize that the growth rate of economic activity has little to do with actual wealth creation, but let’s assume it does. It’s clear that if I have $10 and I create another $10 I have an outstanding growth rate of 100%. However, if someone in a Blue state has $1,000,000 and they create $100,000 they only have a growth rate of 10% despite the fact that they have created $99,990 more that I have.
As your mentioning of Las Vegas clearly points out, not all economic activity is wealth creation. Vegas serves as wealth creating California’s loose change jar; it is a parasitic economic entity. It creates nice jobs for its inhabitants, no doubt, but the second California stopped creating wealth, Las Vegas would turn back into the desert that it was.
To create wealth, two ingredients are critical. Excess capital must be fertilized by creative ideas in order to trigger the conception of a cycle of wealth proliferation. Large urban areas have traditionally been nodes of huge concentrations of wealth, when institutions of higher learning are placed nearby the resulting economic fecundity is undeniable. Cadres of highly educated, very motivated, and exceptionally creative people mould, reform, shape and integrate their ideas, combine them with excess capital and the resulting alchemy is wealth creation. Let’s call the places where this process takes place “wealth creation nodes.”
At some point in the wealth creation cycle manufacturing comes into play. With software development this is mainly programming, with automobile production it means huge factories. While the manufacturing process is very important for local economies, and for maintaining the long-term environment conducive to nurturing the wealth creation nodes, manufacturing is not wealth creation per se; it is just a line item on a balance sheet that when combined with other outlays of capital ultimately results in wealth creation. Another line item in this process would be the janitorial work needed to keep the work spaces of the creative classes clean; it is clear that this function is necessary to set the conditions in which wealth can be created, the janitors themselves are not creating wealth, I would argue that same applies for the manufacturing process.
Another way to create wealth (or arguably the appearance of wealth) is through the process of resource extraction combined with a value adding refinement stage that ultimately creates a product for a given market. I would include agriculture in this category and it becomes clear that this is the stereotypical Red state method of “creating” wealth.
There are certainly some “wealth creation nodes” in the Red states as well, Raleigh NC, Atlanta and Austin TX spring to mind. The vast majority—and the most powerful--are in the Blue states however.
By historic analogy we can see that the British and Dutch mercantile empires roughly follow the Blue state methods, the Spanish Empire and late 20th century Arab economies have more in common with the Red States.
This brings us to the issue of the interaction between religious beliefs and wealth creation. The highly educated wealth creating cadres clearly need to be in a state of at least spiritual calm to allow them to produce the ideas that lead to wealth. Too much religion, however, will stifle the necessity for unorthodox ways of thinking and the intellectual openness necessary to create the environment for great universities to thrive. We see this pattern in our historic models, although they contained some fanatics, both Holland and England were rather open protestant societies with a high level of religious tolerance. It wasn’t until France’s revolution turned it into a Republic that wealth really started to be created there. In Spain, and in general most heavily Catholic countries, it was only with the modern secularization of these societies that the conditions for wealth creation were achieved. In the Middle East, we still see the problems of too much religion stifling the true creation of wealth.
What is clear is that the Red states are lagging on wealth creation and instead are surviving on two parasitical forms of wealth acquisition. The first is direct subsidies from the Federal government. There is no question that some transfers of wealth, for example to maintain national parks, are welcome and useful. Agricultural subsidies however just continue a cycle of dependency and allow the Red states to avoid taking the tough decisions that could lead them to self-sufficiency. The other form of wealth transfer is in the form of Blue state (or European) wealth creating entities shifting manufacturing to cheap-labor, low-tax Red states. In theory it is a good thing to shift some manufacturing to other areas in order to both create new markets and to hopefully start new wealth creating cycles. The problem with the Red states is that instead of reinvesting this wealth into educational institutions they are, in fact, eating their seed corn by instead cutting taxes and creating an ephemeral good life by undertaking conspicuous displays consumption in the form of huge mansions and other similar frivolities.
Instead of creating powerful institutions of higher learning, more and more Red state educational facilities take on the form of religious madrassas. We all intuitively understand the futility of having large proportions of a population spending years studying Koranic verse, can we not by logical extension realize that discussing the finer points of the Book of Zechariah day after day will not lead to the creation of a wealth creating class. There is no doubt that the Red state religious educational institutions create excellent bureaucrats, many of the people recently hired for the various Federal government departments are issued from these schools. They follow orders and don’t ask questions, but they will never have the mental wherewithal to create wealth.
Today we find ourselves in a situation where the Red state way of life depends on the generosity of outsiders, and to maintain their status quo they have grabbed total power at the Federal level. The Blue states find themselves in a dangerous position. The flow of wealth to Red states is starting to threaten the very livelihood of the universities that are vital to the wealth creation loop. While it is now difficult for Blue staters to control the transfers of wealth through the Federal government, Blue state consumers can pressure short-sighted corporations that relocate jobs to the Red states by boycotting products produced there. Only when the economic health of the Blue states is insured can they then start shifting seed money to the marginally Red (Purple) states in the hope of building a governing coalition to ensure the continued economic well being of the United States.
Should red-staters make purchasing decisions based on where the federal taxes end up being credited to. I live in a marginally blue state-- but a red portion of that state. but should I not go to movies, buy CDs etc--because the revenues end up in CA and the taxes are credited to them? Should I not buy microsoft products or use credit cards that have eastern corporate headquarters?
It would be interesting to know how many programs there are that do not actually involve federal dollars but give great advantage to certain parts of the country--ie the dairy compact. This stupid program gives enormous economic advantage to any milk producers outside of the midwest. So midwest dairy farmers probably get more subsidies--but northeast dairy farmers get a extremely favorable law so they don't need as many subsidies. I understand the east coast also has a tremendous advantage in pell grant money and I don't know if that is in the calculations. How many other hidden laws give advantage to one part of the country?posted by: bethl on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
Any subsidies that boosts the wealth creating potential of our country, such as Pell grants, are worth their weight in gold, whether in Blue states or Red states and should be encouraged. Parasitical subsidies like those to support agricultural production are wasteful in both Blue and Red states, and should be either shifted towards something useful or ended. My point is that most Red state subsidies are harmful, instead of cutting them outright perhaps it would be better to keep the dollar amounts the same and transfer this money towards creating high quality centers of education and/or towards somehow fostering a wealth creating mentality in the Red states.posted by: Kevin on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
I am not generally in favor of farm subsidies since much of it goes to big corporations. But since almost every country subsidizes its agriculture even more heavily than the US does--do you believe we do not need to at least have the ability to produce most of our own food? We don't do that anymore but is it wise to lose the capability to do so?posted by: bethl on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
You are right; in the event of a national emergency it is very convenient to not have to import food.
Subsidies are not the only way or the best way to achieve this. Good old fashion nationalism will encourage many Americans to buy American. If we cut our farm subsidies, the Europeans will be under much more pressure to follow suit. From what I understand though, we have a huge problem with overcapacity. Your point is right though, we would never want to get to the point where we lose the ability to produce our own food in the case of a war.
What Pell grants are overwhelmingly successful in growing are college tuition rates.posted by: Matthew Cromer on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
Only in a dream world would Europe and Canada follow suit---they would only do so after significant damage was done to our agricultural system.posted by: bethl on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
Di said: "Dave: So you're saying the government is more efficient than private organizations?"
No, I'm not really talking about the whole efficiency thing. I'm saying that private charities, by their very nature, tend to focus on micro-scale problems, while government programs are designed to address macro-scale problems. A private charity group, for example, might build a homeless shelter to get people off the street on a cold night and give them something to eat. A government program that provides education, job training and rent assistance, on the other hand, is designed to keep people from ending up on the street in the first place.
The analogy I would use is a leaky boat that's taking on water. The private groups are busy bailing out the water as it comes in, while the goverment is working on fixing the hole. I think liberals prefer to spend their time fixing the hole.posted by: Dave on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
We have a great deal of economic leverage in this world. We could use it to get other countries, like Canada and those in Europe, to lower their own tariffs and subsidies. Instead, it seems to me that we tend to use it to extract political concessions.
Our comparative advantage does not lie in agriculture nor manufacturing. Holding on to such industries via protectionist measures just creates inefficiencies and merely delays the inevitable. And the national security interest in having our own food supply is dwarfed by that in having our own energy supply anyway. Like it or not, globalization creates interdependence.posted by: fling93 on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
I just ran across this discussion and was astounded at the lack of mention of tithing, which is mandatory for church standing in places like Utah, and supposedly, among Baptists as well. This is deducted from taxes and explains the list. The lazy journalism regarding this issue is mind-boggling. It was reported in Utah, where I live, in the Salt Lake Tribune, that citizens here gave least to non-church charities than any other state. That wouldn't surprise anyone in Utah, which has the highest rate of bankruptcy too, and underscores the charitable giving being mandatory based on salvation itself.
subtract tithes from charitable giving and I'll bet that red-stateblue-state differential disappears immediately.posted by: the exile on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
I'm curious why no one has commented on the correlation with the prior practice of slaverly, which seems by far the most substantive. I say this not because I think red states are populated by racists--the South that I live in now is much different on that score than the South I grew up in. But the immense impact of slavery, the Civil War, and the civil rights' movement on the political geography is certainly more concrete than supposed correlations to obesity and the like. Any thoughts?posted by: conlon on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
Poverty issues such as income, education spending per pupil, obesity, general health and rates of divorce are striking in the last election because negative results in these areas were correlated with solid support for Bush.
Here is divorce, for one example, to illustrate another phenomenon of co-opting marriage issues:
What this probably means is that something else is going on besides what can be described as rational choice. People are voting from their insecurities and not their economic well-being, which is a phenomenon we see in personality cults called 'cognitive dissonance'. Cog dis explains what happens when there is a serious emotional 'disappointment', essentially causing the defending cognition to compete for dominance against any realization of failure.
A prime example of cog dis is what happens when a prophecy fails the devoted who strongly believe in it, prompting adherents to redouble their proselytizing/campaigning efforts in order to convince as many people as possible that it didn't really fail. This activity avoids an emotionally crushing disappointment.
Politically speaking, what is likely going on is the same. The free market and conservative philosophy in general have failed many, and this prompts those who have prided themselves on attaining success in their lifetime to simply deny that this promise hasn't failed them. The response is then to aggressively identify with a message of personal success instead (exaggerated by calling it a religious duty). This also explains the political use of socially atomized personal morals that easily replace traditional social values, such as preaching against abortion and any welfare which discourages it, or preaching against healthcare while promoting family-based rhetoric, which indicates a complete lack of sincerity. In short, conservatism has become a conservative psychology of dissuasion that the other side has not tackled.
Connecticut 38,450 1 (KERRY)
posted by: Brian B. on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
The so-called mystery is easy to solve if you consider this: US private foreign aid is also a lot larger than the EU total private foreign aid. However, this does not make up for the stringent giving of the federal government. The perceived reason is people in EU know they have already contributed via tax-dollar indirectly to the aid effort and therefore give less privately.
I think the same thing is happening here in the Blue states -- more generous welfare, better safety nets so people would tend to give less.
Nothing more than substitution effect.
There's also the possibility that the charity here in question includes the church -- which changes the picture completely.posted by: Weco on 11.10.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
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