For whom are the moochers actually voting?

by on July 16, 2014 at 2:29 am in Data Source, Political Science, Uncategorized | Permalink

It is a pretty mixed bag, as illustrated by this newly published paper by Dean Lacy, the abstract is here:

The 2012 election campaign popularized the notion that people who benefit from federal spending vote for Democrats, while people who pay the preponderance of taxes vote Republican. A survey conducted during the election included questions to test this hypothesis and to assess the accuracy of voters’ perceptions of federal spending. Voters’ perceptions of their benefit from federal spending are determined by family income, age, employment status, and number of children, as well as by party identification and race. Voters aged 65 and older who believe they are net beneficiaries of federal spending are more likely to be Democrats and vote for Barack Obama than seniors who believe they are net contributors to the federal government. However, the 77.5 percent of voters under age 65 who believe they are net beneficiaries of federal spending are as likely to vote for Romney as for Obama and as likely to be Republicans as Democrats. Voters who live in states that receive more in federal funds than they pay in federal taxes are less likely to vote for Obama or to be Democrats. For most of the electorate, dependence on federal spending is unrelated to vote choice.

Hat tip goes to Kevin Lewis.  I am not able to find an ungated copy.

Kevin also points us to this interesting paper interpreting the Scandinavian model.  The authors are Erling Barth, Karl O. Moene, and Fredrik Willumsen, and the abstract is this:

The small open economies in Scandinavia have for long periods had high work effort, small wage differentials, high productivity, and a generous welfare state. To understand how this might be an economic and political equilibrium we combine models of collective wage bargaining, creative job destruction, and welfare spending. The two-tier system of wage bargaining provides microeconomic efficiency and wage compression. Combined with a vintage approach to the process of creative destruction we show how wage compression fuels investments, enhances average productivity and increases the mean wage by allocating more of the work force to the most modern activities. Finally, we show how the political support of welfare spending is fueled by both a higher mean wage and a lower wage dispersion.

Again, I cannot find an ungated copy.

1 dan1111 July 16, 2014 at 2:40 am

Note: the ungated copy is available directly on the page you linked.

“Voters who live in states that receive more in federal funds than they pay in federal taxes are less likely to vote for Obama or to be Democrats.”

This part is old news, as it was the basis of that “What’s the matter with Kansas?” thesis.

However, I am surprised that there is not much correlation between belief that one is a beneficiary of federal spending and what party one votes for. I would expect one’s belief about whether one is benefiting from government spending to be at least partly driven by ideological outlook. I can’t seem to find the actual survey questions in the full text of the paper (it says they are in the appendix, but I don’t see them).

2 Handle July 16, 2014 at 6:31 am

There’s a little devil in the details of ‘states that receive more’ and the understanding of what it means to be a ‘net beneficiary’. Are we talking welfare or salaries or even contractors? That’s the problem with Cowen putting ‘moochers’ in the post title. Are these all moochers? One should distinguish between consideration for goods and services provided, and simple welfare-state transfers.

If a small-population state like Montana or North Dakota has a very expensive nuclear missile and aerospace defense operation, then yes, the money going to the service-members, DoD civilians, contractors, and the whole economic ecosystem that springs up around them will technically be spent ‘in the state’ and exceed the federal income taxes paid for by residents of the state, but the main point of the spending is for the benefit of a national public good.

That’s a lot different than, say, federal tax black-hole Detroit, which stays ‘afloat’ (such as it is) on a significant amount of pure transfers the main point of which is to benefit the locals at the expense of taxpayers in general and from which the nation at large arguable receives no public good benefit in return.

3 Adrian Ratnapala July 16, 2014 at 7:50 am

I agree with the distinction you make. However, I thought the main reason why republican voting, rural states tend to receive net transfers is simply that they have a lot of poor and unemployed people. Is that a misconception?

4 Handle July 16, 2014 at 9:38 am

And Florida and Arizona have a lot of old people who may be receiving Social Security and Medicare benefits ‘in those states’, and consider themselves ‘net beneficiaries’ of federal spending and yet still have a lot of seniors voting Republican. And what if I’m an old person who has paid a lot in taxes over my life and been a ‘net payer’, but have only recently become a ‘net beneficiary’ but, based on my lifetime assessment, still think I don’t come out ahead and thus vote Republican? And is this guy or gay a ‘moocher’ too? Is that spending fairly attributable to those states in a way that makes sense of voting patterns?

You can see how the complexities start to multiply, all of which lower the value of the information this paper seeks to present because of over-aggregation of very distinct and distinguishable cases. The question is whether these mysteries disappear when the data is collected and reported with more granularity.

So, let’s say there are a lot of poor people in Mississippi – with the net consequence of a huge amount of federal transfers – but that the majority of the state tends to vote republican, but that this majority is disproportionately not composed of transfer recipients. Do we learn more or less about ideological incoherence or political inconsistency by aggregating transfers and voting patterns at the state level?

We learn less. The strangeness would disappear with more resolution. There’s a lot of mischief one can accomplish by reducing that resolution, and that’s the problem here.

5 tjamesjones July 16, 2014 at 10:37 am

what a great summary of the methodological problems with this analysis. and at a pyschological level, I kinda think the authors have an ax to grind.

6 dead serious July 16, 2014 at 10:46 am

It’s almost as though grouping people into enormous categories and buckets doesn’t work.

Still, stereotyping is useful if for no other reason than it makes it super easy to troll. See below.

7 J1 July 16, 2014 at 12:54 pm

At least in the case of Montana, the state unemployment rate is considerably lower than the national rate, so maybe not. Also, most unemployment funding comes from the state, so that measure wouldn’t necessarily have anything to do with the net federal consumption issue depending on how “spending” is measured (federal support for unemployment is generally in the form of loans).

Military spending likely accounts for a lot of the consumption difference, but in many cases that’s a matter of tax-producing states putting things they don’t want in their state somewhere else. If the California delegation succeeds in having a military installation shut down and it’s operations moved to Oklahoma or Louisiana, it’s more than a little disingenuous to go on about tax consuming states receiving more federal money when they’re receiving it as a result of action taken by a tax producing state.

Analysis should not include Social Security payments; paying people back what you owe them is not mooching or tax consumption (that was a major error in Mitt Romney’s remarks).

8 The Original D July 16, 2014 at 3:04 pm

You seriously think the California delegation (in aggregate) wants to shut down military bases? Those are cash cows for the local economy.

9 J1 July 16, 2014 at 4:08 pm

Norton AFB, Mather AFB, Presidio/Chrissy, MCAS Tustin, MCAS El Toro…

I doubt California wants Fort Irwin or China Lake shut down, but the state is generally hostile to military installations in populated areas. A lot of states aren’t, Texas in particular. You’re right though; they’re serious cash cows.

10 j r July 16, 2014 at 10:05 am

“One should distinguish between consideration for goods and services provided, and simple welfare-state transfers.”

Why exactly? How much of this spending is really for the “national good” and why don’t social transfers count as the national good? It is unclear to me why a farmer who makes a living growing more subsidized corn than the market would otherwise demand or an engineer who makes a living building weapons systems that we don’t need are somehow better than a single mother who gets TANF or some guy collecting questionable disability payments. Certainly they may be fewer negative pathologies among the former than the latter, but from the point of view of the the fiscal bottom line and economic wealth creation or destruction they simply don’t break down that way.

The only reason that I can see for making these sorts of distinction is that you want to create some sort of phony moralistic division like “makers vs. takers.”

11 tjamesjones July 16, 2014 at 10:40 am

and the only reason I can see for you to avoid this distinction is you want to hide that same moralistic division. Because in fact they are very different cases: the cost of the state paying someone to build its weapons systems (or pick another government service that you do approve of if that’s the issue), delivers a benefit to the entire nation, the transfer payment of a handout delivers a benefit solely to the recipient

12 Scooter McNulty July 16, 2014 at 1:11 pm

How does a “handout” benefit only the recipient of the “handout”? You realize that poor people spend every penny they make, don’t you? You give a poor person $10 worth of food stamps, they’re going to go spend it at a grocery store, or a gas station or drug store. They don’t just collect it. Every dollar you give a poor person eventually ends up back in the pocket of a rich person.

13 TMC July 16, 2014 at 4:10 pm

Thinks of it as goods produced the the ‘rich’ person get transferred to the poor person.
Dollars themselves aren’t worth a damn.

14 Handle July 16, 2014 at 12:18 pm

Nice. So when government takes over an economic function then the formerly private workers therein who are now government employees or contractors – even when they do the same things and earn the same amount of money – suddenly transform from independent agents into ‘moochers’ – lumped together with the transfer recipients – because of course we simply can’t make any meaningful moral distinctions.

15 The Original D July 16, 2014 at 3:01 pm

No one thinks of himself as a moocher, even if he’s working on an outrageously expensive Pentagon initiative of dubious value. And no politician will ever vote for a base closing in his district.

16 J1 July 16, 2014 at 5:00 pm

Another detail might be where a company pays taxes. Are taxes on profit from a Chevron refinery in Houston considered to come from Texas, or from Chevron headquarters in California? Same goes for HP’s giant operation in Plano. Or Kia’s plant in Georgia. Does Illinois get credit for tax on Boeing profits even though almost all of their operations are in other states? I don’t mean that rhetorically; does anybody here know how that works?

17 T. Shaw July 16, 2014 at 8:06 am

almost everything therein is bullshit.

“A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.” – George Bernard Shaw

Because the effects of federal monies are different depending on whether you are Peter or Paul.

18 Just Another MR Commentor July 16, 2014 at 8:28 am

Both Paul and Peter are rich and lazy, we should be more worried about poor, hardworking Jose and Gurdeep.

19 Ricardo July 16, 2014 at 9:47 am

+1, even though you were probably being ironic

20 Brian Donohue July 16, 2014 at 11:09 am

Close. Both Paul and Peter are rich and lazy. Paul, Peter, Jose, and Gurdeep should be worried about themselves. And they are.

21 Tim July 16, 2014 at 12:08 pm

Why? This is basically science trying to prove or disprove a campaign slogan. Of course the “truth” is going to be elusive. The original premise was created to stir emotion, not actually be related to any factual truth. The term moochers is explicitly about “other people”. It is always going to be other people. Any attempt to pin down which people specifically is going to devolve into a circular game of finger pointing.

22 albatross July 16, 2014 at 3:57 pm

The sort of underlying premise of this bit of rhetoric about makers and takers assumes that voters mostly vote in their own perceived interests. In particular, people who don’t expect to be paying much income tax in the foreseeable future are probably a lot more favorable to increasing the tax rate than people who expect that doing so will cost them some money. And people who never expect to need poverty assistance are probably a lot more favorable to cutting poverty assistance programs than people who expect to need those programs sometime soon, or are on them now. All this seems pretty plausible, but I’m sure there’s good data somewhere that nails it down in detail.

When you phrase it as above, though, it seems a lot less powerful as rhetoric, because there’s not that nice moral ring to the distinction between makers and takers. How much money you make surely has a positive correlation with how much value you add to the world (that’s kinda why markets lead to richer and nicer societies overall), but it’s very far from a perfect correlation. And government programs are very often in places where there’s a plausible split between what’s socially valuable and what you can make money doing in the market–that’s actually one of the best arguments for government programs to exist.

Lots of very smart and productive scientists live on federal grant money, for example. Are they makers or takers? It’s not even clear to me how you’d answer that question in an empirical way–most researchers probably don’t produce as much as they cost overall, but a few (and an unpredictable few) will make the society as a whole enormously richer, and mostly they won’t be able to capture much of that wealth. (And often, they won’t even get all that much credit–Alice does the groundwork that makes Bob’s breakthrough possible, but only specialists in the field understand that Bob was standing on Alice’s shoulders when he got that Nobel prize.)

Are policemen makers or takers? Or soldiers? Or defense contractors? How would you even get a quantitative answer to that question?

Even when you look at people being supported by public assistance now, it’s not clear where many of them fit on the maker/taker spectrum. Retired people collecting SS and Medicare are mostly people who worked and paid into the system; which label do they get? How about people who were working and supporting themselves till they got sick or injured, and now they’re living on disability?

23 Tim July 16, 2014 at 5:51 pm

Exactly. And the basic premise “voters mostly vote in their own perceived interests” also leaves out the rich who vote for every tax increase because they have enough to spare and see it as a way to redistribute their wealth. The Warren Buffets of the world clearly do exist.

And could not the case be made that the wealthy the ones who benefit the most from society? Warren Buffet fortunes clearly depend upon having a military to ensure stability, and a transportation department to ensure safe and consistent vehicular transportation, and Social Security so his companies don’t have to fund pensions…

Who the moocher is is very much a matter of perspective.

24 Brian Donohue July 16, 2014 at 6:07 pm

There is no perspective outside of a nuthouse where Buffett is a moocher.

Word meanings can be twisted, but must they be completely denuded? How will we ever understand one another?

25 Tim July 16, 2014 at 9:58 pm

It the campaign slogans had instead said “People who make less than 10k per year and depend upon federal programs to feed themselves” we would all have known what we were talking about. When you throw around the word “Moocher” which is derogatory and has no official financial definition it’s not the language’s fault that there are many interpretations. A hypothetical person who makes $1 billion dolllars per year, lives with some roomates, always eats their roommate’s food and is behind on paying the rent – you could still 100% accurately called a moocher. The word says nothing about the financial situation of the person involved. The language is not to blame in this case.

26 Silas Barta July 16, 2014 at 5:30 pm

I always assumed the reason for that was:

Blue state: “Let’s expand government!”

Red state: “Let’s not.”

Blue state: “How … about if we buy you off?”

Red state: “Okay then.”

27 8 July 16, 2014 at 2:57 am

“Voters who live in states that receive more in federal funds than they pay in federal taxes are less likely to vote for Obama or to be Democrats.“

If military spending, demographics and poverty rates aren’t controlled for, this doesn’t tell us much. I see defense only once in the text. The irony is that this type of analysis serves as a great argument for forced secession of the red states, since their exit would alleviate the burden on the federal deficit. The blue states should be working to kick the red states out of the union. The red states would sink into poverty without the federal aid, revealing the failure of conservative economic policies, while the wealthy remaining blue states would be a beacon for progressivism.

28 Just Another MR Commentor July 16, 2014 at 3:38 am

“while the wealthy remaining blue states would be a beacon for progressivism”
and hence strangle themselves to death. The only thing holding back the red states seems to be an unfortunately all to prevelant anti-immigration attitude. Still many immigrants do end up there which bodes well for the future of these regions.

29 dead serious July 16, 2014 at 8:38 am

That would be unfair to the red states though.

Left to their own devices, school curricula would crowd out science in favor of creationism and intelligent design subjects. Within a few generations those poor mouthbreathers will be banging rocks together to start their cooking fires.

I guess they’ll have plenty of guns though, so there’s that. When you can’t make or do anything useful you can always go shoot some possum for dinner.

30 Art Deco July 16, 2014 at 10:03 am

Left to their own devices, school curricula would crowd out science in favor of creationism and intelligent design subjects.

Cue Jonathan Haidt. Now put the bong down and sleep it off.

31 dead serious July 16, 2014 at 11:01 am

I love sports. My bona fides: I’ve won my fantasy football league for the last 3 years I’ll have you know.

I also love American traditions – barbecuing (or grilling for your purists), the 4th of July, fireworks, weekend family get-togethers, apple pie, fast cars. All that.

The one aspect of religion I can appreciate is the sense of community, charity and moral center that it can engender (can, not does by default). Unfortunately religion also creates an ‘us vs them’ dynamic that I find distasteful and that has had nasty historical repercussions. Plus the belief in one or more deities is something a full-grown adult has no business believing in (my opinion – I’m not trying to stop others from engaging in fantasy).

All that said, I’m not sure how Walmart falls into the “‘traditional” category, but you’ve got your own little whiny culture war of your own to perpetuate so I’ll let you get back to it.

32 Z July 16, 2014 at 10:34 am

This lunatic is a good example of the point I’m fonding of making. It is not about economics or even public policy. For the modern lunatic it is all about culture. Specifically their hatred of traditional American culture. Everything about the cult of modern liberalism is in reaction to what they imagine is traditional America.

Normal people go to church, so lunatics hate churches. Normal people shop at Walmart so lunatics hate Walmart. Normal people like sports so lunatics hate sports. You can go through the shopping list of progressive fads and all of them are reactions to what they think is normal, traditional America.

33 Just Another MR Commentor July 16, 2014 at 10:49 am

Another example was that America tradtionally accepted larger numbers of immigrants having basically open borders but nowadays you have these lunatics on the left pushing for more and more restrictions. Very untraditional – we must fight the good fight against the cult though but we are winning. For one thing BitCoin is going to completely obliterate tradtional government within 10 years.

34 dead serious July 16, 2014 at 11:29 am

I love sports. My bona fides: I’ve won my fantasy football league for the last 3 years I’ll have you know.

I also love American traditions – barbecuing (or grilling for your purists), the 4th of July, fireworks, weekend family get-togethers, apple pie, fast cars. All that.

The one aspect of religion I can appreciate is the sense of community, charity and moral center that it can engender (can, not does by default). Unfortunately religion also creates an ‘us vs them’ dynamic that I find distasteful and that has had nasty historical repercussions. Plus the belief in one or more deities is something a full-grown adult has no business believing in (my opinion – I’m not trying to stop others from engaging in fantasy).

All that said, I’m not sure how Walmart falls into the “‘traditional” category, but you’ve got your own little whiny culture war of your own to perpetuate so I’ll let you get back to it.

35 libert July 16, 2014 at 8:25 pm

Alternative interpretation: culture warriors have defined “progressive fads” to be anything that is not “normal, traditional America”?

36 Luciom July 17, 2014 at 8:30 am

In europe normal people don’t go to church (except perhaps in ireland and poland). Mostly only old people do. The normal 30 or 40 years old in europe abhors organized religion and doesn’t take part in any of them.

They can call themself religious nonetheless, but they don’t go to church on a regular basis, not at all.

37 Brian Donohue July 16, 2014 at 11:24 am

dead serious, congratulations! Your comment is as dumb and mendacious as any nativist crap I’ve read on this website.

38 dead serious July 16, 2014 at 11:49 am

Wow, two ‘mendacious’ tags in two days! I’m on a roll, baby.

Anyway, I’m poking fun at stereotypes, not being true to my moniker in this case.

39 Willitts July 16, 2014 at 12:08 pm

Creationist mouthbreathers invented science.

40 dead serious July 16, 2014 at 12:56 pm

(Some) creationist mouthbreathers who “invented science” believed that the world revolved around the sun, and/or was flat.

Try again?

41 dan1111 July 16, 2014 at 1:32 pm

Wait…so they were wrong to believe that the world revolved around the sun? What is the correct belief?

And how could a flat world revolve around something? I guess if it were sort of a pancake in space it would work, but I don’t think anyone has ever believed that.

Try again?

42 dead serious July 16, 2014 at 3:28 pm

Nailed. That’s what I get for trying to post while on a conference call and scarfing down lunch.

Anyway, you get the point I hope.

43 dan1111 July 16, 2014 at 4:28 pm

I hope the conference call and the lunch turned out a little better 🙂

44 mavery July 16, 2014 at 8:53 am

Na. The blue states would still feel bad for all the poor folk who no longer had a social safety net and probably keep paying for their healthcare/food/etc. regardless.

45 The Swamp of Motivated Reasoning July 16, 2014 at 4:03 am

So Romney was right. He really didn’t have to care about those people.

46 ummm July 16, 2014 at 4:17 am

Yeah but everyone knows the majority of welfare recipients are Democrats. The poorest and least educated of American tend to vote democrat and not republican.

47 dearieme July 16, 2014 at 4:22 am

Maybe it’s more to the point that the poverty pimps vote Democrat i.e. the public servants and others who make a good living off the moochers.

48 Andrew M July 16, 2014 at 5:41 am

Yes, this.

“states that receive more in federal funds”
Are those federal funds distributed to poor individuals, or to employees of the state?

49 Jan July 16, 2014 at 6:31 am

Poor individuals. Medicaid is usually the second largest item in state budgets, but the feds actually pay 50 to about 70% of those costs, depending on how wealthy a state is. Of course, there are outlier states like VA and MD close to Washington that benefit disproportionately from federal dollars, but those are not primarily transfer payments.

50 prior_approval July 16, 2014 at 5:29 am

‘The poorest and least educated of American tend to vote democrat and not republican.’

Viewed at the state level, this is simply not true.

Unless you think Mississippi – ‘The Mississippi Republican Party holds seven of the eight statewide offices and holds a majority in the Mississippi Senate. Republicans also hold both of the state’s U.S. Senate seats and 3 of the state’s 4 U.S. House seats.’ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mississippi_Republican_Party – is a wealthy state with highly educated citizens.

Or Alabama is just as well off as Mississippi – ‘Following the November 2010 election, Republicans won control of the Alabama state legislature for the first time in 136 years winning large majorities in both chambers.

Today, Republicans hold both U.S. Senate seats and six of Alabama’s seven seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. No Democrat has been elected to the U. S. Senate from the state since 1992 when Richard Shelby was elected to a second term.

————————-

Republicans have also won six of the last seven goverors races in Alabama dating back to 1986. The GOP has also won five consecutive races for Attorney General dating back to 1994. Six of the eight seats on the State Board of Education have elected Republicans. The Alabama Supreme Court and appeallate courts are elected statewide and dominated by Republicans. The nine Supreme Court justices are all Republicans. Alabama’s two appellate courts also have all 10 seats occupied by Republicans.’ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alabama_Republican_Party

Check out the rankings for just how close those two states are (thpough Alabama’s ranking for education seems to fluctuate a bit depending on who is doing the measuring) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_by_poverty_rate and http://www.alec.org/publications/report-card-on-american-education/ (one hopes that linking to ALEC is allowed here – you just never know these days)

51 Careless July 16, 2014 at 8:17 am

Are you really that stupid?

52 tjamesjones July 16, 2014 at 10:44 am

these are anecodotal – try this one prior:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election,_2012

53 prior_approval July 16, 2014 at 11:59 am

So, Alabama’s and Mississippi’s wealthy and highly educated citizens voted for Obama? Why no, your link shows that neither of those two states provided electors for Obama. Whereas a number of states that are notable for not ‘mooching’ did provide electors for Obama.

But then, with that sort of stunning evidence that Alabama and Mississippi are actually run by Republicans, and voted for a Republican presidential candidate, I’m sure that someone can explain away this little bit of information concerning Mississippi – ‘For example, Mississippi obtains 45.8 percent of its total state general revenues from federal transfers (the largest share in the country).’ http://taxfoundation.org/blog/federal-aid-percentage-state-general-revenue-fiscal-year-2012

As a matter of fact, none of the following states provided electors for Obama either – ‘Also on the high end are Louisiana (44.3 percent), South Dakota (41.5 percent), Tennessee (41.3 percent), and Missouri (40.8 percent).’

I’m sure that same explanation that works to show how Mississippi is not mooching will work just as well for those other four.

54 Tarrou July 16, 2014 at 8:39 am

A lot of what “everyone knows” just ain’t so. A lot of poor white americans vote republican, not out of racism, but to draw the distinction between their brand of poverty and the “urban” underclass. It’s all about tribal affiliation. Everyone wants someone to look down on. I deal with both sides of this divide every day, and while both are poor and have a host of social and cultural maladies, and they both draw their income primarily from the government, they both look down on each other and talk about how the other group is the real moochers. When you meet a welfare recipient on food stamps and Medicaid, in subsidized housing who will proudly tell you they’ve never worked a day in their life and talk about how they sell their foodstamps for money to buy liquor (and to a total stranger, no less), who goes on to complain about panhandlers and how welfare recipients should all be drug tested……….well, my irony meter pegs. But this is real, the politics don’t matter, the policies don’t matter in the slightest. All that matters is which group a person thinks they are a part of.

55 DeWayne July 16, 2014 at 10:45 am

“A lot of poor white americans vote republican, not out of racism, but to draw the distinction between their brand of poverty and the “urban” underclass. It’s all about tribal affiliation. Everyone wants someone to look down on.”

How is this not racism? You use “tribal” but you mean “race”.

56 Tarrou July 16, 2014 at 11:23 am

Because this distinction is cultural, not racial. Not all differences between groups are due to race. If you’re poor, but your house is a trailer, your beater car is a pickup and you listen to country, you are more than likely republican, even though someone in the identical socioeconomic group could come out the opposite. Works with white people who live in urban areas, who are similar to poor blacks culturally, and poor blacks who live in rural areas, who are more similar to their white cultural brethren. My battle buddy way back in the day was a lanky black guy from West Virginia, who had been a coal miner, drove an S-10, favorite musician: George Jones. Voted Republican like a clock. Tribes are more fungible than race. You can join another one. You just have to be able to pass in teh social mileau.

57 Nyongesa July 18, 2014 at 2:20 am

Bingo… this tribal; identity extends well into the middle class now.

58 DeWayne July 16, 2014 at 10:46 am

“Yeah but everyone knows the majority of welfare recipients are Democrats.”

This is not true in the south.

59 Moreno Klaus July 16, 2014 at 4:33 am

So only rich people have a right to vote or to lobby or to influence politics?….It’s not like poor people have a huge power… your welfare state is basically crap!

60 Alexei Sadeski July 16, 2014 at 4:52 am

I wish!

61 Just Another MR Commentor July 16, 2014 at 5:32 am

Well only the rich are productive. If we wanted to be truely moral and righteous we should give voting rights to the poor all over the world. Afterall US policy affects the globe.

62 Ricardo July 16, 2014 at 9:53 am

Another +1 for you, despite the irony. The higher your (production – consumption), the wealthier you are. Across individuals, production has a higher variance than consumption. So in general, yes, the rich are more productive than the poor.

63 prior_approval July 16, 2014 at 5:31 am

‘So only rich people have a right to vote or to lobby or to influence politics?’

You are writing that observation here? You left out the part where those with the wealth to lobby and influence are entitled to having their activities be beyond any public scrutiny, too.

64 Steve Sailer July 16, 2014 at 6:13 am

“Voters’ perceptions of their benefit from federal spending are determined by family income, age, employment status, and number of children, as well as by party identification and race.”

What does that mean?

Consider the example of my father, a pretty classic Republican voter. He was an engineer for Lockheed for 40 years, and about half the time he worked on taxpayer-supported military projects (e.g., P-38, F-104, P-3) and the other half on commercial airliners (Constellation, Electra, L1011). How should he have designated himself?

65 Handle July 16, 2014 at 12:07 pm

Moocher!

66 Nyongesa July 18, 2014 at 2:23 am

Anyone who worked on the engineering of the Connie, Electra and L1011…IS NO MOOCHER!!!!. Some of the best planes ever built.

67 A B July 16, 2014 at 6:30 am

IANAEconomist, but isn’t looking at where the spending goes the difference between Austrians and Keynesians?

Also, broken record time — It’s easy to increase your salary if you don’t have to take care of kids, and Blue State residents don’t have as many children as Red State residents. The Blue States would die off pretty quickly without Red States supplying bodies to them.

68 Chip July 16, 2014 at 6:51 am

For the Scandinavian study, the welfare state coexists with the other variables, until it begins to distort incentives and culture, and no longer coexists.

Sweden reversed out of their welfare state quite a while ago and Denmark is doing so now. Norway is awash with oil but even there the cost of welfare – both fiscal and cultural – are starting to bite.

Norwegians work less than 33 hours a week and 600,000 people who could work are instead living on welfare or pensions.

69 Jan July 16, 2014 at 7:37 am

Oil…yummm.

70 well July 16, 2014 at 7:37 am

“Voters who live in states that receive more in federal funds than they pay in federal taxes are less likely to vote for Obama or to be Democrats.”

Comparisons at the state-level can be misleading, because many red states contain very high proportions of blacks. For example, the “red state” Mississippi has the highest proportion of blacks, at 37%. The black proportion of Mississippi receives a disproportionately large amount of welfare, and votes Democrat, even though the state as a whole is a “red state.”

71 John Thacker July 16, 2014 at 7:51 am

Yes, one basic point in Andrew Gelman’s “Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State” is that the poorer states are more likely to vote Republican, but within those states it’s still the case that the poorer voters of that state vote Democrat, and the wealthier and higher income you are in your state the more likely you vote Republican. The difference between a Republican leaning state and a Democratic leaning state is mostly about whether the middle class votes R or D.

Hpwever: federal funds are generally given to individuals, or to states based on formulae that are computed based on relatively objective statistics. There’s a fair case that some of the R leaning states get extra federal funds thanks to low dollar incomes but a low cost of living, though it’s equally true that the same causes those states to be reported as poorer and with more poverty than in reality. (Except when careful corrections are made.) Therefore some of the R voting middle class in Mississippi receives a better deal from the federal government– due to their lower cash incomes but better standard of living due to lower cost of living– than D voters in states with higher nominal incomes but smaller houses, etc. Although, OTOH, the people in the blue states with middle class incomes are free to migrate to low cost of living states like TX and NC– and seem to be doing so quite a lot!

Also, if someone works and pays taxes for their working lives in NJ, and then retires to FL, a naive analysis will make FL look like a state of moochers. But from the individual analysis, it makes perfect sense.

72 John Thacker July 16, 2014 at 9:28 am

However, the individual level results, including about how people who perceive being net benefits vote, in this study are still interesting and relevant.

73 Willitts July 16, 2014 at 12:16 pm

“Can be” misleading?

Was Minnesota a net payer to the rest of the nation when Reagan won every other state?

State level data of this sort is always misleading. Obama won 60% of the vote of the lowest quintile. He also won the majority of those with more than $10 million in income.

High income inequality cities generally vote for Democrats. That should tell you something.

74 Art Deco July 16, 2014 at 8:15 am

Common provision tends to be heavily weighted toward the elderly who typically have put in around 35 years in the labor force (pro-rating part-time and seasonal work), are often infirm, and are less able to adjust to economic shocks. I suspect if you rummaged through it, you would find that critics of Social Security (James Wadsworth in 1935) and critics of Medicare (Ronald Reagan in 1965) were leery due to practical considerations, and that economic support for the elderly and disabled has not (in and of itself) been sorely controversial bar among groupscules too small to penetrate public discussion.

See here:

http://www.livingroomcandidate.org/commercials/1964

75 Marie July 16, 2014 at 11:25 am

Just on a side note, the guy who pays into Medicare for 35 to 45 years and then draws from it is dependent on the government.

The VA administrators who got paychecks to box up and store files are not.

76 Pat July 16, 2014 at 9:02 am

I completely agree with those that point out that just because your state gets more fed funding than it collects doesn’t mean that funding is useful or wanted.

Also, shouldn’t some version of the permanent income hypothesis apply here? Some unemployed person might be a “moocher” right now but still have a long term expectation that they will pay more in than they get out and vote accordingly.

77 Urso July 16, 2014 at 9:41 am

“I completely agree with those that point out that just because your state gets more fed funding than it collects doesn’t mean that funding is useful or wanted.”
I don’t see a ton of governors refusing free money. Anyway it’s not at all irrational to have these preferences, in order. (1) less federal spending. (2) federal spending as is, but spent on my state. (3) federal spending as is, but spent on those jerks in other states.

78 Dan Weber July 16, 2014 at 9:09 am

Voters aged 65 and older who believe they are net beneficiaries of federal spending are more likely to be Democrats and vote for Barack Obama than seniors who believe they are net contributors to the federal government.

This needs serious unpacking. As a given, the vast vast majority of people over 65 are current beneficiaries. Even seniors who are working are probably getting more just in health care than they pay in taxes. If they are accurate in their self-assessment, the first group is waaaay bigger than the second.

On the other hand, how they categorize themselves may have serious implications for their outlooks. Maybe they do not consider themselves “beneficiaries” because they “earned” their benefits. (To be intellectually honest they would have to have not considered themselves “contributors” when they were paying the taxes to earn those benefits.)

NB: There isn’t a cosmic “right answer” for which viewpoint is correct.

79 Urso July 16, 2014 at 9:44 am

I agree with this. I’d also add that it’s not always immediately obvious who depends on the federal government. Imagine an accountant for a private company that isn’t a government contractor. He doesn’t directly depend on the federal government for his job. But he specializes in Sarbannes-Oxley, and if it were repealed tomorrow he’d be laid off. Is he an indirect moocher? The government has essentially passed a law saying to his company “thou must hire a bunch of accountants. I don’t know if that’s a great example but you get the idea.

80 Marie July 16, 2014 at 11:18 am

Attorney for a pharmaceutical firm that makes $300,000 a year keeping his company complaint with state and federal regulations is not dependent on government, but the gal who cashiers at Walmart at night and spends three days a week volunteering in her kid’s classroom but is on food stamps for $6,000 a year is.

Hope that helps.

81 Marie July 16, 2014 at 11:19 am

compliant.

82 Bill Reeves July 16, 2014 at 10:22 am

I haven’t read the study but I can already see a methodological ussue. Federal subsidies have generated roaring inflation in lower education, higher education and healthcare (I still recall with fondness my professor, George Stigler talking about going up against the entire establishment in predicting significant healthcare inflation from Medicare). Three times as much money is spent in real terms per public school pupil today as in 1980. In this study i assume this “spending” is credited to each child’s account. Yet we are really being gouged by the educator bureaucracy. So why wouldn’t two thirds of that spending be credited to public school employees rather than students since the kids did not derive benefit from it?

If we were to recognize those sums as rents captured by industry insiders via Federally induced inflation then Democrats would appear to be.taking a lot more than they would in a naive model.

83 Marie July 16, 2014 at 11:22 am

The student that goes home “educated” is the beneficiary of government spending. The people who actually go home with cash are not. Hope that helps.

84 triclops41 July 17, 2014 at 12:55 pm

And the many millions who are, in no serious sense, educated, are just ignored? And the many millions who are poorly educated considering the amount if money spent on them? Down the memory hole as well?
We are talking about the realities if education, not the flippant ideal of education.
Hope that helps.

85 Marie July 19, 2014 at 12:53 am

I should have been more clear, I’m the constant nag about how public education stinks so my post was total sarcasm!

86 tjamesjones July 16, 2014 at 10:45 am

This analysis of 2012 suggests that lower income Americans voted heavily for Obama.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election,_2012

I suspect the academic paper is an exercise in obfuscation – of course if you rob peter to pay paul, you’ve got paul’s support.

87 Marie July 16, 2014 at 11:12 am

The first excerpt means something entirely different if you change all the “people who believe they are beneficiaries” lines into “people who recognize that they are beneficiaries.”

88 Mario July 16, 2014 at 1:42 pm

Right. This was my take as well. Made me think of people screaming, “You keep the government out of my Medicare!”

89 triclops41 July 17, 2014 at 12:57 pm

Or, “keep the government out of my vagina!”

90 Dave July 16, 2014 at 12:12 pm

Who is a moocher? Someone who publicly espouses libertarian views while drawing a government paycheck?

91 Ron Swanson July 16, 2014 at 12:18 pm

Say that to my face.

92 Urso July 16, 2014 at 12:40 pm

“Who is a moocher?”
A low down hoochie coocher.

93 Careless July 16, 2014 at 4:52 pm

The left wing equivalent of “if you want higher tax rates, why aren’t you paying them yourself already?”

so predictable and so stupid.

94 rose July 17, 2014 at 12:40 am

Most of those observations are about whether people *believe* they are net beneficiaries, not whether they actually are. From what I’ve heard, conservative voters are overwhelmingly “unknowing moochers,” making all of hose observations essentially meaningless.

95 Enrique July 17, 2014 at 9:28 pm

To paraphrase Nixon, “we are all moochers now”

96 Floccina July 21, 2014 at 10:38 am

we show how the political support of welfare spending is fueled by both a higher mean wage and a lower wage dispersion.

Is support for welfare spending stronger due the lower level of corruption in the Northern European countries?

97 Floccina July 21, 2014 at 11:01 am

The most anti-welfare people that I have known have been the working poor. I see it even myself, when I was working hard and making minimum wage I felt stronger that people on welfare should do the same, but now that I am a high earner I tend to think more along the lines of it would take so little from me to raise their income significantly why not. I still hate how inefficiently politics helps the poor. The way I see it Government due to politics maybe even hurts them on net!

It is nice to help the lowest earners but it is very difficult.

98 Floccina July 21, 2014 at 11:04 am

And oh BTW Bryan Caplan’s research (“The myth of the Rational Voter”) has shown that people do not vote their economic benefit which explains a lot in the developing world.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: