Sarah Palin's Economics Lesson

Sarah Palin gave a speech about economics on Wednesday, but it only popped into my RSS reader last night:

"Some in Washington would approach our economic woes in ways that absolutely defy Economics 101, and they fly in the face of principles, providing opportunity for industrious Americans to succeed or to fail on their own accord," she said. "Those principles it makes you wonder what the heck some in Washington are trying to accomplish here."

Wow. Whatever else might be said about Sarah Palin, I hope we can all agree that there's absolutely no reason to take her seriously as a fiscal conservative. In particular, that line about "industrious Americans" succeeding and failing of their own accord made we want to take a look at the federal dollars Alaska receives per resident relative to its federal tax burden. So I went and made this chart:

alaska taxes and spending.png

(This is drawn from the right-of-center Tax Foundation using their most recent data.)

Alaska gets $13,950 per resident from the federal government, more than any other state in the nation. It ranks number one in taxes per resident and number one in spending per resident. It's also number one in pork-barrel spending. Each Alaska resident receives a check for $3,200 a year from state oil revenues -- which Palin bumped up from $2,000 last year. Palin once justified this by saying that the state of Alaska was "set up, unlike other states in the union, where it's collectively Alaskans own the resources. So we share in the wealth when the development of these resources occurs." (Sounds socialist!) Industrious indeed.

(A housekeeping note: I like both charts and gimmicks, so I thought one possible gimmick for this blog would be to create a "chart of the day" and publish it at a regularly appointed hour, like 10am every weekday morning. I am curious to know if [1] this is a stupid idea and [2] if anyone has any suggestions for cool charts to make.)
 

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Conor Clarke is the editor, with Michael Kinsley, of Creative Capitalism. He was previously a fellow at The Atlantic and an editor at The Guardian. More

Conor Clarke is the editor, with Michael Kinsley, of Creative Capitalism, an economics blog that was recently published in book form by Simon and Schuster. He was previously a fellow at The Atlantic and an editor at The Guardian. He is also on Twitter.

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