Red State Welfare

There is a big divide between red states and blue. Part of the gulf is welfare spending. But which states benefit more? Spoiler alert, Fox News lies.

In a previous article we discussed social versus corporate welfare. Big corporations benefit just as much and probably more, than so called welfare queens. But where do those social welfare queens reside? Big urban cities like New York and Detroit? Or are they mostly well below the Mason-Dixon Line in such Republican strong holds as Louisiana and Mississippi?

For a country called the United States of America, there certainly seems to be a big divide. A big political, ideological  and spending divide. If you are a disciple of Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and Matt Drudge you might be under the delusion that it’s the crack selling, abortion having, SNAP collecting denizens of big left wing cities stealing your hard earned tax dollars. Well, you’d be wrong.

When it comes to cashing in on the largess of the American tax payer, you need look no further than the red state south.

The Biggest Takers

The five biggest takers are New Mexico, Mississippi, Kentucky, Alabama, Montana, and West Virginia. New Mexico and Montana are purple, they can’t be put firmly in either camp. The remaining three are all solidly red, all southern and all in the bible belt.

New Mexico struck me as an odd state to be included on this list so after some digging I found out why they rank so high. Part of their funding is for Native American reservations, military bases, and federal research labs. So some of those things not all states have but New Mexico has them in addition to all of the usual sources of spending like SNAP recipients.

The five who get the least back for what they contribute are New Jersey, Delaware, Illinois, Minnesota, and Kansas. All blue but Kansas. The two big liberal boogeyman states, California and New York rank 6th and 20th respectively.

These numbers are for overall spending. Below we’ll examine two big federal programs to see which states reap the most funding.

SNAP Benefits

SNAP benefits are what used to be called food stamps. The USDA estimates the cost of groceries for a family of four at between $584-1,156 a month. As of September 2014, there were 46.5 million Americans receiving SNAP benefits, representing 22.7 million households. The maximum a family of four can receive a month in benefits is $649. SNAP is meant to supplement a food budget, not make it up entirely.

The five biggest recipients and the percentage of residents who receive benefits from lowest to highest are as follows:

Oregon 19.93%

West Virginia 19.96%

New Mexico 21.5%

Mississippi 21.74%

District of Columbia 21.97%

Two red states, Oregon and DC are blue, New Mexico purple.

Another fallacy beloved by race baiting red state politicians and those they pander to is that it’s hard working white Americans in America profonde who are giving up their hard earned tax dollars to feed black people and illegal immigrants. (Point of order, undocumented people aren’t eligible for SNAP.)

This is the breakdown by race of who gets SNAP benefits according to the USDA:

White 40.2%

Black 25.7%

Hispanic 10.3%

Asian 2.1%

Native American 1.2%

Three quarters of households that receive SNAP benefits include children, the elderly or someone with a disability. The majority of SNAP recipients work. In households with one working age, non-disabled adult, more than 50% worked while receiving benefits. More than 80% were working in the year before or after receiving SNAP.

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The Federal Emergency Management Agency oversees responses to disasters that overwhelm state and local governments. They also provide funding for rebuilding, relief efforts, and training of response personnel.

Another of the things that FEMA funds is disaster preparedness. Between 2010-2014 FEMA spent $4.6 billion on this part of their funding. Republican led states were 8 of the top 10 beneficiaries. Louisiana, led by noted willful idiot Bobby Jindal, was number one on the list, taking in $1.1 billion.

In the fiscal year 2011-2012 of the ten states that received the most FEMA aid, two thirds of their senators voted against emergency aid for New York and New Jersey after Super Storm Sandy. Proving once again that politicians are happy to line up for the money the East Coast pumps into their disasters but when it’s our turn, they tell us to get fucked.

Happily we will soon have our revenge. Starting in March 2016, states seeking disaster preparedness funds from the federal government will have to assess how climate change threatens their states.

So science denying governors like Florida’s Rick Scott, who infamously banned employees of the state’s Department of Environmental Protection from using the terms “climate change” or “global warming” from any official communications, e-mails, or reports, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana who thinks the world is flat, and New Jersey’s bridge bully Chris Christie, will have to somehow square their hatred of science with their love of federal largess or be forced to explain to their electorate why their state is under water or slicked with oil and the cavalry isn’t coming.

Schadenfreude. Maybe voters will think twice about electing people like these when DC cuts off the money supply.

We Vote Against Ourselves

I understand this from a leftist viewpoint. I vote for politicians who want to fund programs that help my fellow citizens because I don’t want them to starve or have no place to live when a hurricane blows their house away.

This costs me money. I like money. But I don’t like it so much that I’m willing to make someone suffer so I can have a little more of it. I am happy when a fraction of what I pay in taxes goes to feed or house people. Because I know most of the people benefiting from those tax dollars work too, probably harder than I do in some cases.

And apparently, blue states are filled with voters who feel the same. We consistently elect politicians who vote to fund these kinds of programs.

What I don’t understand is the right wing southern, bible belt view point. They are the ones who most benefit from social welfare programs and consistently vote against their own interests.

Maybe a feeling of moral superiority is enough to keep them from feeling hungry and gives the illusion of a roof over their heads after the latest tornado has blown away their trailer.


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