Red State Welfare Queens

This map and accompanying discussion (via) should be more widely disseminated. As Kevin Drum notes, rural life is more expensive, and it is subsidized by city dwellers. Rural state Republicans used to know this, so they would often vote for pork-barreling blue dogs who were perceived as more effective in bringing home far more than their fair share of tax dollars. But in the past few years, they started to believe the Tea Party line that they were the last real Americans laboring under the oppressive yoke of elite urban taxation. They aren’t, and they ought to be reminded of that. When you have to start driving 20 miles to get to the Post Office, or a couple of hundred to get to the airport, then voters might start remembering who brings home the subsidies that allow unprofitable postal and air service.

75 replies
  1. 1
    jeffreyw says:

    And where the fuck is my fat internets pipe? Huh? I’m walking uphill ten miles carrying buckets of bandwidth just to be able to comment on this here blog!

  2. 2
    vhh says:

    this is the crux of the matter. Publish the map over and over again. Propose legislation to cut the red state subsidies every week every month every year and you break the Tea Party.

  3. 3
    Han's Big Snark Solo says:

    Rural state Republicans used to know this, so they would often vote for pork-barreling blue dogs who were perceived as more effective in bringing home far more than their fair share of tax dollars.

    I can’t help but wonder if America was a lot less dysfunctional before Congress “banned” pork. It seems it was the grease that lubricated the legislative process.

  4. 4
    no video at work says:

    just another reason to move out of Minnesota. We supported the rest of the goddamned country with our taxes and our superior educational system for too long. Now that we have joined the race to the bottom the wingnuts are gutting this state too & we will be joining the rest in demanding more but trying to pay less.

  5. 5
    The Republic of Stupidity says:

    … then voters might start remembering who brings home the subsidies that allow unprofitable postal and air service.

    Seeing as our Randian masters like P Ryan are getting their way, those voters are about to find out the hard way…

    I wonder how much a repossessed Medicare scooter will fetch on eBay?

  6. 6
    Nutella says:

    Yes, it’s always been true that the people who like to think of themselves as rugged individualists are subsidized, living on other people’s money. Metropolitan areas subsidize the rural areas, as you note.

    The east pays for the west, the north pays for the south, the cities pay for the suburbs. When Newt Gingrich was whining about welfare queens, his suburban Atlanta district had the second highest ratio of federal money coming in to federal taxes paid in the whole country. About the same time in Atlanta an enterprising reporter investigated the common belief that neighborhoods with big lots and single family houses are better for the tax base than ones with apartments and small lots. He found that the cheaper neighborhoods were net contributors of local taxes and the richer ones were not paying their own way.

    We need to publish more of this analysis of tax winners and losers. False stories like ‘50% of Americans pay no taxes at all’ get all the publicity.

  7. 7
    moe99 says:

    http://www.scientificamerican......logy-of-no

    more evidence that conservatives think differently.

  8. 8
    dr. bloor says:

    Eric Cantor, Deadbeat. Nice to see that the Old Dominion is carrying on it’s tradition of lionizing assholes determined to destroy the republic.

  9. 9
    redshirt says:

    I love sticking it to the Confederacy as much as anyone, but I think this tack is misplaced.

    The areas you are pointing out are predominantly rural, but they’re also predominately minority populations, and I would assume a large voter for Democrats.

    So any threat to “stick it” to the Red States will disproportionately target minority populations – who no doubt are suffering under ever more subtle Jim Crow laws and the like.

  10. 10
    D.N. Nation says:

    Dear Georgia,

    You’re welcome.

    Love,
    Atlanta

  11. 11

    It’s my understanding that Medicare and Medicaid spending is the lion’s share of disproportionate welfare spending, and that is largely due to smoking and obesity-related illness.

  12. 12
    dr. bloor says:

    @redshirt:

    Been a while since your last trip to Utah, eh?

  13. 13

    @D.N. Nation:

    I don’t know the facts but I wouldn’t be surprised if Atlanta carried the whole state in paying for governmental services.

  14. 14
    NonyNony says:

    @redshirt:

    The areas you are pointing out are predominantly rural, but they’re also predominately minority populations, and I would assume a large voter for Democrats.

    Um whut?

    North Dakota? South Dakota? Wyoming? Montana? Iowa? Maine (Giant Teabagger contingent in Maine)? Indiana? Oregon?

    These are not states that have a higher proportion of minorities relative to the rest of the country. But they’re all places where “rugged individualism” and “keep the gubmint out of my bizness” attitudes are flaunted.

    You’re missing the forest for the trees – not everything is about the idiots in the South who continue to celebrate Treason In Defense Of Slavery – the problem exists outside of the South.

  15. 15
    Legalize says:

    When you have to start driving 20 miles to get to the Post Office, or a couple of hundred to get to the airport, then voters might start remembering who brings home the subsidies that allow unprofitable postal and air service.

    Wanna bet on that?

  16. 16
    redshirt says:

    I bet there’s lots of Native American populations making up the extreme poverty groups of the West.

  17. 17
    Chris says:

    Thanks for this. I posted the same thing on facebook a couple days ago and have been reading stuff about it for years now. Yes, the “rugged individualism” thing is pure myth. They’re the biggest welfare queens in the country.

    Rural state Republicans used to know this

    I think they still do. Remember when Rand Paul was elected in Kentucky and one of his first actions was to go on the air and reassure his constituents that despite his anti-pork stance, he would make sure farm subsidies weren’t cut?

    Once again with the Matt Taibbi quote: “The average Tea Partier is sincerely against government spending – with the exception of them money spent on them. In fact, their lack of embarrassment when it comes to collecting government largesse is key to understanding what this movement is all about.”

  18. 18
    shortstop says:

    WTF is up with Maine? Where’s DXM to explain this to us?

  19. 19
    ant says:

    If Hilary was President, she woulda made this known to Americans with the bully pulpit.

  20. 20
    bob h says:

    New Jersey shells out $1 to the Federal government and gets back 50 cents. The 50 cents goes to subsidize the Red states whose politicians are wrecking our nation.

    (Do knuckleheads like Boehner and McConnell realize that when they cut government programs, their own states bear a proportionately higher burden of the cuts?)

  21. 21
    quickly says:

    has anyone seen a map like this that accounts for county by county taxes in new york state? I need something for my Buffalo relatives who say that we should just cut off Manhattan and let it float into the Atlantic.

  22. 22
    NonyNony says:

    @bob h:

    (Do knuckleheads like Boehner and McConnell realize that when they cut government programs, their own states bear a proportionately higher burden of the cuts?)

    Yes.

    Now ask if they fucking care.

  23. 23
    shortstop says:

    @redshirt:

    The areas you are pointing out are predominantly rural, but they’re also predominantly minority populations

    No, they’re not. I know it’s a popular misconception that black citizens outnumber white citizens across the deep South, but really, that’s a skewed white perception that definitely doesn’t fit the facts. And the upper plains states and trio of Montana/Idaho/Wyoming have very low minority populations in comparison to most other (and especially blue) states.

  24. 24
    wrb says:

    The claims that rural areas are subsidized-
    other than the very limited ones that benefit from farm subsidies- and rural living more expensive is a myth perpetuated by urbanites (except when they are setting medicare reimbursement rates- then urban living is waaaaay more expensive) and it has been quite destructive and done a lot to turn rural areas red. It is a big complicated topic but a few points:

    Most rural infrastructure is there to serve the cities. The highways are filled with people driving between cities, not rural people going about their business, yet people attribute the cost to the rural area when making these arguments.

    The road networks are there to get food and timber to the cities to feed their ravenous appetites, rural people get by utilizing the excess capacity.

    Small towns exist within their local carrying capacity, cities rely on massive expensive infrastructure to suck water from hundreds or thousands of miles away, and then to dispose of extraordinary amounts of waste.

    Huge amount of tendentious effort is expended in making the case that cities are more efficient, but as the massive increases in energy use that have accompanied China’s urbanization has demonstrated, it just isn’t so.

    The medicare reimbursement issue is extraordinarily unfair: everyone pays in at the same rate but urban doctors get paid much more so rural areas can’t get doctors.
    If you live in a rural area your personal contact with government is with enforces and regulators who seem intent on keeping you and your region poorer, closing the forests, closing the fisheries.Money is available for a bypass speeds urbanites on their way through and which kills your downtown, but there is nothing available to make the town better. It can appear that government hasn’t done anything to help since rural electrification. So people who were staunch New Dealers are now republicans.

    This is natural result of population shifting to cities as an inevitable role of government is in transferring wealth to the powerful from the less powerful, but it is an unfortunate one, with unfortunate consequences.

    An effort to make rural areas more prosperous would pay off politically.

  25. 25
    ericblair says:

    @bob h:

    (Do knuckleheads like Boehner and McConnell realize that when they cut government programs, their own states bear a proportionately higher burden of the cuts?)

    Funnily enough, decades of living in a fantasy world does present some problems when reality rears its ugly head. Mr. Turtle and Orange-Man sure know, but I’m not real confident that the congressional teabagger brigade has fully grokked this and the rank-and-file are off in la-la land playing with free-market unicorns.

  26. 26
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    Totally OT, but since this is the only political site I visit at work, I need some news about Wisconsin. Anything.

  27. 27
    shortstop says:

    @Legalize: ‘Fraid you’re right. If only those urban bucks and their fertile women weren’t sucking up all the rural taxes, and we didn’t spend many trillions every year teaching children how to be homosexual in public schools, we could have nice things like cheap airports in the middle of Bumblefuck.

  28. 28
    Shinobi says:

    I’d like to see a similar map of the state of illinois. The downstate voters get all up in arms when the city folk want something like trains to get us to work, oh but we have to pay to pave their roads.

  29. 29
    BGinCHI says:

    @quickly: Ahh, GOP-led Erie County government: now there’s an efficient system.

    I’d like to see a map like that of NY state too. So many rural counties in WNY and CNY that have to be sucking funds from urban places.

  30. 30
    mistermix says:

    @wrb:

    The medicare reimbursement issue is extraordinarily unfair: everyone pays in at the same rate but urban doctors get paid much more so rural areas can’t get doctors.

    This is absolutely wrong. There are may reasons why rural areas can’t get doctors, but Medicare reimbursement is not one of them. There has been an extraordinary effort by red state blue dogs to change Medicare reimbursement to account for rural hospitals. Small hospitals are now doing well across, e.g., the Dakotas, primarily because blue dogs stepped up to get them preferential Medicare reimbursement as well as all kinds of federal grants, etc., because of their rural status. Yes, some completely untenable rural hospitals did close or curtail services, but there are plenty of 10-20 bed rural hospitals that are surviving or prospering that would be completely economically untenable in urban areas, thanks to blue dogs.

  31. 31
    BGinCHI says:

    @wrb: Agreed, but this is still no excuse for the points being made here: rural folks who hide their heads in the sand and blame everyone else for their/our problems, need to wake the fuck up.

    I come from exactly that kind of rural population, and there is no excuse for it.

    A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

  32. 32
    Bruce S says:

    Look – Sarah Palin oversaw the biggest real-live S-Word project of in the US, with redistribution of wealth from state ownership of productive resources not just to public coffers but to anyone resident in Alaska with a pulse.

    There is a cohort of our voting public that revels in it’s near-insane hypocrisy, ignorance and politics rooted in resentments. This is excellent information – has been for years – and should be widely disseminated, but you can’t shame crazy. Cognitive dissonance is a feature, not a flaw.

  33. 33
    RossInDetroit says:

    What about military spending? Sure, lots of it is pork barrel weapons systems but naval bases and Army pay aren’t exactly frivolous giveaways. Factor that out and it would probably change the color of Virginia, as one example.

  34. 34
    khead says:

    When you have to start driving 20 miles to get to the Post Office, or a couple of hundred to get to the airport, then voters might start remembering who brings home the subsidies that allow unprofitable postal and air service.

    Really love this line – and the thread.

    Post Office, Airport.

  35. 35
    Biff Longbotham says:

    Let’s not forget that, as a result of the “Peace Dividend” and various rounds of BRACing, we are today left with an active duty military heavily concentrated in the South and West, leaving the Midwest and New England to figure out what sort of adaptive repurposing will keep the tumbleweeds off the old parade grounds.

  36. 36
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @shortstop:

    Maine is an old state. I don’t know if and to what extent SS, Medicare, and Medicaid — a good chunk of which goes to nursing homes, etc — is included.

    Maine is also, relative to New England, where costs of living are high for transport and climatic reasons, a poor state, so lots of LIHEAP money, federal education money etc.

    All of which we share with Vermont. You’ll notice New Hampshire is green, but if it were disaggregated into counties, the counties that are in effect part of the Boston metropolitan area would be bright green, and the rest of the state would be red, probably as bright as Maine.

    And Maine is a small state, so absolutely small changes in federal transfers can cause relatively large swings in the balance.

  37. 37
    ericblair says:

    @wrb:

    Huge amount of tendentious effort is expended in making the case that cities are more efficient, but as the massive increases in energy use that have accompanied China’s urbanization has demonstrated, it just isn’t so.

    Would you mind backing these points up with statistics? For example, most rural highways are not used by citydwellers going from city to city: they mostly use the interstates and federal highways, as you can see on any long weekend. Most of these rural highways are state funded and not locally funded anyways, so the citydwellers pay for the rural highways too.

    What’s China got to do with this? I’d assume that per-capita (non-biological) energy use goes up when you move from a rice paddy cultivated with oxen to a city apartment, but American rural life is heavily mechanized and has very little in common with this.

    Probably the biggest help rural areas could get is mass high-speed broadband.

  38. 38
    Roger Moore says:

    @Nutella:

    We need to publish more of this analysis of tax winners and losers. False stories like ‘50% of Americans pay no taxes at all’ get all the publicity.

    You can try, but the people who you need to convince will continue to believe what they want to believe. And not completely without reason. Rural government services generally suck compared to urban services. Rural dwellers have to drive a long way for medical care, they don’t get as good telecommunications, and they often lack good access to urban amenities like sewers, trash pickup, and routine snowplowing. The problem is they blame their lack of service on urban elites monopolizing the good stuff rather than the much higher cost of providing those services in rural areas. It’s not going to be enough to publish the data. You have to explain it, too, and in a way that self-interested rural dwellers can’t brush off as urban liberal elitist disinformation.

  39. 39
    iLarynx says:

    Technical aside: That’s a horrible graph to interpret for anyone who has even minor color-blindness.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pu.....MH0001997/

    I can’t tell which is surplus and which is deficit. Greater contrast between colors, please.

  40. 40
    Peggy says:

    Interesting to read the comments on the Economist; they are all excuses. Military bases in New Mexico shouldn’t count because- although New England would welcome those bases back. Florida has so many retirees on Medicare- although cutting welfare is always OK for the Tea Party. etc.
    The distribution of wealth to the Republican rural states just shouldn’t count.

  41. 41
    wrb says:

    @ericblair:

    It was to the interstates that I was referring when talking about going city to city. The rural highways were built to get crops and timber to the cities, rural people can get around using the excess capacity. It has been a long time since the amount of traffic has demanded that a lane be added to a typical rural highway.

  42. 42
    Peggy says:

    iLarnyx- go to the link- it has a chart with numbers.

  43. 43
    mike in dc says:

    Slightly OT, but can we start calling it “The Great Teapression” now? Never too early to start making them own it.

  44. 44
    Herbal Infusion Bagger says:

    “When you have to start driving 20 miles to get to the Post Office, or a couple of hundred to get to the airport, then voters might start remembering who brings home the subsidies that allow unprofitable postal and air service.”

    Well, that’d just show How Government Isn’t Working. Which in turn means the Job Creators (i.e. the Top 1%) need another tax cut.

    The current GOP have no interest in making gubmint work better. The more disfunctional gubmint is, the more they can rail against it, and the lower voter turnout as people lose faith in the gubmint to do anything to improve their lives, etc.

    Putting the GOP in charge of gubmint is like giving your local water utility to a bottled-water distributor. The incentives for them to f**k the system up are all wrong, as they win big if they screw the system up.

  45. 45
    Bruce S says:

    “naval bases and Army pay aren’t exactly frivolous giveaways”

    But they are major government spending that, among other things, creates needed local jobs and consumer demand in what are very often “red regions” – despite the preponderance of “facts” like “the government can’t create jobs”, “cutting spending drives growth”, and other genius mantras that get repeated endlessly in their echo-chambers. My guess is that very little of this transfer of wealth to red states is a “frivolous giveaway” – mostly just reflects local economics and demographics. Imagine the impact on local economies if all the oldsters in Florida were suddenly strapped for cash or dependent on local charitable services for health care.

  46. 46
    Chris says:

    @Roger Moore:

    The problem is they blame their lack of service on urban elites monopolizing the good stuff rather than the much higher cost of providing those services in rural areas.

    Well, since they don’t believe in government services in the first place, cause that’s soshulism for lazy people, here’s their big chance to show us how rugged individualism works.

    It’s not going to be enough to publish the data. You have to explain it, too, and in a way that self-interested rural dwellers can’t brush off as urban liberal elitist disinformation.

    Which is difficult when they consider that any information that contradicts their preconceived notion is elitist liberals being condescending to them, by definition.

    @Herbal Infusion Bagger:

    Putting the GOP in charge of gubmint is like giving your local water utility to a bottled-water distributor.

    Or turning Wall Street over to communists.

    Or the Defense Department over to pacifists.

    Or the New York Yankees over to Red Sox fans.

  47. 47
    PeakVT says:

    Huge amount of tendentious effort is expended in making the case that cities are more efficient, but as the massive increases in energy use that have accompanied China’s urbanization has demonstrated, it just isn’t so.

    This makes zero sense. You’ve managed to confuse industrialization with relative per capita energy use. Sure, China would have used less energy if it had remained an agrarian country with the majority of the population engaged in low-intensity agriculture. That has nothing to do with comparing energy use between rural and urban areas in the United States.

  48. 48
    Judas Escargot says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    You’ll notice New Hampshire is green, but if it were disaggregated into counties, the counties that are in effect part of the Boston metropolitan area would be bright green, and the rest of the state would be red, probably as bright as Maine.

    Yep, this. Lots of friends/family have been trickling up to Nashua/Portsmouth for the lack of sales taxes up there over the past decade. But they still drive into MA every day for work.

    Between the higher property taxes, gas prices, and longer drives, they don’t really save anything, but folks just hate paying sales taxes. They also hate it when I remind them that without all those jobs in Massachusetts, NH would basically be Alabama with a Yankee accent.

    But they can’t refute it, either.

  49. 49
    les says:

    @wrb:
    Kinda sorta, but no. Taxes (and utility rates set by politicians) subsidize rural electricity, irrigation, phone, internet, transport and agriculture generally. Say what you want, a million poor people pay more taxes and utility bills than a thousand well to do rural denizens.

  50. 50
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @Bruce S: As additional evidence, watch what happens in those areas that have a military base when the government starts wanting to close one. It really becomes about how many jobs will be lost, not about whether having the base is still effective.

  51. 51
    aimai says:

    @wrb:

    Rural people can “get around using the excess capacity?” What the ? does that mean? In colonial empires the term of choice for road building that related primarily to taking things like “lumber and grain” out of a region was “dendritic” meaning that you had all your roads running out of the rural areas to the ports and relatively little cross country/cross road highway structure. Communication between parts of the hinterland was execrable because the state and corporations were only interested in draining the resources from the area, not fostering rural communication between undervalued communities.

    No, rural people can’t just “use the excess” unless they are willing to drive dirt roads carved out of fields to get from one house to another. There’s a reason why settlements tend to cluster around roadways–because the cost of keeping up roads to individual homes is very, very high. Too high for small communities.
    aimai

  52. 52
    wrb says:

    @ericblair:

    What’s China got to do with this? I’d assume that per-capita (non-biological) energy use goes up when you move from a rice paddy cultivated with oxen to a city apartment, but American rural life is heavily mechanized and has very little in common with this.

    China doesn’t have much to do with federal subsidies.

    It is relevant to the issue of carbon emission and embedded energy, which is the context in which I usually engage issues around settlement patterns.

    Its relevance there depends whether you are talking only about the impacts of a settlement pattern as people operate within it today or of the impact over a lifetime that includes increasing energy costs. The efficiency changes as increasing energy costs decrease the amount of optional travel.

    Non-transportation infrastructure costs are much lower in a dispersed pattern, due to the efficiency of living within local carrying capacity. Water comes from a spring or well, waste has no impact than what a bear does in the woods.

    Transportation-related carbon emissions are highly variable. Some people stay home, some choose to drive a lot at current energy prices. However a dispersed pattern can be approach the efficiency rural China if energy prices are high. It doesn’t require a lot of travel.

    The small town / countryside system can be quite efficient even now because of a lack of destinations: you drive to town get your stuff, and that is it. A large metropolitan area has lots of destinations separated by many miles and, at current prices, it is tempting to bop all over the place.

  53. 53
    RickD says:

    It’s worth mentioning that the red color for MD and VA is due to the fact that DC is the seat of the Federal government. Otherwise MD at least (and possibly VA, certainly NOVA) would fit the pattern of the Northeast.

    Really, it’s OK to pick on the rurals. They certainly demonize urban life enough. I don’t see any way to re-balance the controlling narratives without attacking them.

  54. 54
    Elizabelle says:

    @mike in dc:

    The Teapression.

    I am so using that.

  55. 55
    wrb says:

    @aimai:

    Rural people can “get around using the excess capacity?” What the ? does that mean?

    It means that rural America is laced with nice paved and graveled roads built to get goods to cities. Some of the system is dendritic, some networked. It is quite dense, as a truck has needed to get to every farm and clearcut. The roads don’t operate near capacity, so there is plenty of capacity left over for local transportation. They weren’t built for local transportation – as you point out that would have been too expensive- so it is a mistake to consider their cost a subsidy to the people who live in the region. They are making thrifty use of something that would exist anyway. It is entirely appropriate that those who are sucking up the food and timber shipped over these roads pay much of their cost. As you say, rural residents tend to locate along these roads.

  56. 56
    Roger Moore says:

    @wrb:

    The road networks are there to get food and timber to the cities to feed their ravenous appetites, rural people get by utilizing the excess capacity.

    Those road networks are also there to move cars, TVs, and medicine from the cities out to rural areas. There may have been a time when rural areas were mostly self-sufficient and cities were totally dependent on them, but that time is long since past. Rural areas are completely dependent on manufactured goods imported from the cities. Unless you’re going to somehow argue that rural areas are doing cities a favor both when they send raw materials and when they consume manufactured goods, the transportation system that makes the interchange possible is going to have to count as a wash in terms of who is subsidizing whom.

  57. 57
    wrb says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Yes there is an exchange that utilized the roads, no argument. The argument is that they weren’t built to bring televisions to rural areas,
    they were built to feed the cities.

  58. 58
    Roger Moore says:

    @wrb:

    The argument is that they weren’t built to bring televisions to rural areas, they were built to feed the cities.

    The argument is bullshit, then. The sensible argument is not about some hypothetical ultimate purpose in the roads’ original construction but about their practical real-world use. The Interstates were originally justified as part of a civil defense network, but that doesn’t mean we should argue that contemporary highway spending should count as part of the military-industrial complex. Similarly, farm roads may have been justified as a way of moving produce to market, but in the real world they’re used a lot more to let farmers drive to town to buy things. There’s probably more justice to your argument when talking about roads serving pure extractive industries like logging and mining, though my experience is those kinds of roads are generally built to a much lower standard than farm roads.

  59. 59
    shortstop says:

    @Davis X. Machina: Most informative. Thanks.

  60. 60
    kwAwk says:

    This is the paradox of modern day politics. This mat matches up pretty good with this link showing median income by state by the US census bureau. It matches up fairly well with the surplus states having the higher median incomes and the deficit states having the lower median incomes.

    We tend to think of our politics as being left leaning states want the rich to pay more taxes and right leaning states want to poor and middle class to pay more taxes.

    However if you look at the data right leaning states tend to be lower income while left leaning states tend to be higher income. Which means that the people on the right want their people to pay more taxes while people on the left want their people to pay more taxes.

    You could look at this as everybody wants to contribute more to the Federal Government, but left leaning rich states are preventing right leaning not so rich states from contributing more by holding tax rates down for the lower income categories.

    I’m sure the confusion comes from the notion that $50k a year goes a lot further in Alabama than it does in California, but the basic premise remains the same.

    Every state is fighting for the right to pay higher taxes, whether they know it or not.

  61. 61
    wrb says:

    @Roger Moore:

    The sensible argument is not about some hypothetical ultimate purpose in the roads’ original construction but about their practical real-world use

    Getting the food etc. to the cities remains there real-world practical use, from the economic perspective.

    Satisfying the desire of farmers and hippies to go to town doesn’t justify their maintenance. The consequences of cutting off the supply of goods do.

    It is good that people make thrifty use of something that would exist regardless.

  62. 62
    d. john says:

    @Nutella: East pays for west?
    Maybe a couple of decades ago.

    Silicon Valley (California)
    Seattle,Redmond,Bellevue (Washington)
    Portland (Oregon) – *Intel if u didn’t know
    We have IT you guys don’t. We build planes. You don’t (until boeing packed up and moved their HQ)

    California last I checked, has the WORLD’s 8th largest economy.

    It’s a little outdated to say east pays for west.

    The coastal areas of the united states are both top economic contributors to the federal budget.

    And you guys have Florida dragging down your numbers.

    Furthermore, you are posting here using an operating system we built for you, BTW. The computer was probably built in asia, but the OS? Just sayin’ – your post is a bit ironic. Not quite enough to be funny, but keep trying.

    Cheers,

  63. 63

    hey aren’t, and they ought to be reminded of that.

    A very progressive council member her in Nashville mentioned this to me at a campaign event. I was bemoaning the fact that Nashville is a blue city in a very red state, and when we do progressive things like pass a non-discrimination ordinance, the fuckers in the state legislature swoop in and pass a law saying Nashville can’t have a more progressive ordinance than the knuckle-draggers in the state. How’s that for small government, eh?

    This councilperson said to me, “Nashville and Memphis subsidize the rest of the state, we’re the economic engine, we bring in the jobs. And they need to be reminded of that.”

    First I’d heard it articulated that way …

  64. 64
    Quackosaur says:

    @wrb:

    What you seem to be ignoring in your “cities are parasites feeding off the virtuous industry of American farmers, miners, and loggers”-type argument is that the relationship isn’t parasitic but symbiotic.

    Farmer Bob outside Small Town USA needs roads (or railroads or waterways) to get his goods to market. Sure, he may only go as far as Local Grain Elevator, Inc., but he needs all the other parts of the system to get paid. After all, if Operator Joe can’t get to the Big City, no one will pay him for all the grain from Small Town USA either. In the end, Farmer Bob (and everyone else) gets paid. Farmer Bob can buy that new widget he saw in Big City Department Store’s catalog and maybe send his kids Billy and Mary Sue to State College. You may argue that Farmer Bob gets the short end of the stick, but that’s what happens when a lot of small producers are trying to access the same market.

    Cities can’t survive without the farms, and the farms need the cities, too. Repeat with whatever raw material you can imagine. Sure, farmers could “survive” without the cities, but subsistence living isn’t much fun; just ask all the people in the world who do it now! (And I don’t mean rugged individualist Mark who’s got the stability of the Nation-State to make sure life isn’t too tough.)

    The small town / countryside system can be quite efficient even now because of a lack of destinations: you drive to town get your stuff, and that is it. A large metropolitan area has lots of destinations separated by many miles and, at current prices, it is tempting to bop all over the place.

    You seem to be arguing that we go backwards as a means of being more efficient, which so flies in the face of history as to be laughable. For hundreds of years, people poured out of rural areas into cities because the opportunities were better there.

    Also, where would all the excess people go? Where would this “stuff” come from? Unless this only applies for after the revolution comes? Sure modern urban areas have issues with vast distances between places, but that’s because Americans have an aversion to density and like their cars too much. Solutions exist, we just like to pretend that they don’t.

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    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    @d. john:

    Typically what is meant by “west” is that broad section of America between the Rust Belt and the West Coast-Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Montana, etc ad nauseous.

    And may I add that the BRAC process in the 90s that got rid of most California and Rust Belt/Northeastern military bases was one of the worst decisions of the past 30 years? Yay for having our military concentrated in the Confederacy on posts named after Confederate generals…

  66. 66
    wrb says:

    @Quackosaur:

    What you seem to be ignoring in your “cities are parasites feeding off the virtuous industry of American farmers, miners, and loggers”-type argument is that the relationship isn’t parasitic but symbiotic

    I agree. I was countering the argument, suggested by the post, that rural areas are parasitic.

    You seem to be arguing that we go backwards as a means of being more efficient, which so flies in the face of history as to be laughable. For hundreds of years, people poured out of rural areas into cities because the opportunities were better there.

    Yes, a more dispersed pattern is can be one way of getting more efficient. It should be among the options. People have poured into cities under a certain set of conditions. Whether they continue to do so or whether there is a movement to other patterns change as energy gets more expensive and the internet allows many to work from wherever they please will be interesting.

    People often believe there is a smooth curve that graphs the relationship between density and efficiency. There isn’t. It is a very complicated relationship that depends a lot on local structure.

    The “drive until you qualify” suburban fragment can be very inefficient, the same density around a small node can be very inefficient. A row house can be more energy efficient than a detached house but as building get really big they generate enormous cooling loads.

    A re-populated rural landscape with small towns chained together by rail, as in 19th century England, might end up among the most sustainable future patterns.

    I don’t agree with Jim Kunsler that cities will be abandoned and left to decay, however. At least the biggest will still be affordable to the wealthiest, who will have enough power to pillage the resources the city demands.

  67. 67
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    One of the reasons why rural living is in many ways so much more expensive than urban or suburban living is that the private sector doesn’t want to bother with low density customers. Take telecommunications, for example…the major telcos (there are only three or four in the entire country now) only want to cherrypick customers in urban areas where their cost of reaching them is substantially lower, on a per customer basis, because they don’t need as much infrastructure to plan, build, and maintain to service that customer base. Contrast with rural customers who live at the end of very long telephone lines that are expensive on a per customer basis to plan, build, and maintain.

    The private sector gravitates to where the profit is, and it’s not in rural areas. Which is why airports, which are expensive facilities to build and operate, in rural areas, just don’t have the bang for the buck that airports in higher density areas do. Ditto medical facilities, post offices, I could go on all day.

    This is a pretty good example of how markets don’t work well for utility type enterprises, but don’t tell the free market clowns that.

  68. 68
    Triassic Sands says:

    I live in Washington State, where the Blue/Red — Urban/Rural divide looms large. The eastern Washintonians, even those living in the hyper rural setting of Spokane, routinely vote against money for projects affecting the Seattle-Tacoma-Everett urban areas. For example, it is typical to hear easterners whine about money for the Puget Sound ferry system. They can’t understand the idea that the ferry system is part of the state highway system and subsidizing the ferry is no different from building rural highways that carry relatively low numbers of cars. Consistent with national trends, the urbanites provide the majority of revenue, while the ruralistas soak up a disproportionate share of the money.

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    …but don’t tell the free market clowns that.

    And isn’t it interesting that the biggest fans of “market solutions” are people who would be left out in the cold if it weren’t for government interventions. These “clowns” (and there is no better word for them) don’t know what is good for them and regularly march to the polls to vote for candidates and issues that will ultimately screw them.

    Does government know better than the individual what is good for him? In cases like this, sadly, the answer is a resounding “Yes!” It’s not a question of “big gubmint.” Rather, it’s a matter of efficient use of resources versus waste, rationality versus irrationality, and simple common sense versus the ideological straitjacket.

  69. 69
    The Populist says:

    @vhh:

    Yes. I once believed in the building of a high speed wireless network as a type of infrastructure project for the entire country. This would allow us to get up to higher speeds and be equal to many parts of europe while providing much needed jobs.

    I still believe in it but seeing this map infuriates me. So my state, California, runs a tax surplus that goes to bail out Arizona, Mississippi, New Mexico, etc.

    Cut them off if they are so damn upset with the “black man in the WH spending our money”. Next time I hear some comment like that I will laugh and remind them that the same jerkwads saying this sure love living high on the pork.

  70. 70
    The Populist says:

    @NonyNony:
    Even Arizona relies on the goodwill of others to pay for their state. Basically California and Nevada pay for Arizona!

  71. 71
    Kyle says:

    Huge amount of tendentious effort is expended in making the case that cities are more efficient, but as the massive increases in energy use that have accompanied China’s urbanization has demonstrated, it just isn’t so.

    Yes, Chinese peasants consume more energy when they migrate from their farms to become factory workers, with higher incomes, in the cities.
    Relevance to rural America = zero.

  72. 72
    Jenn says:

    @wrb:

    I both agree and diagree with your premise. As someone who has lived in the rural west, I see a lot of blindneas to government services. What your point fails to acknowledge is that a lot of these small towns wouldn’t exist except for federal jobs that both build up the population so that the town is big enough to, say, support a grocery store, and employ members of the local ranching families, because frankly, almost every one of the ranchers I know have to have second or third jobs to keep their ranch going. And I ha e to admit, it’s a little surreal to be in a store and hear the clerk bitching abput the feds, and look around to find that almost every single person in there was a federal employee. (Of course we could also segue into the fact that we don’t pay enough for our food, and that the producers of that food sure don’t get a big enough cut, because it definitely does piss me off!)

  73. 73
    Quackosaur says:

    @wrb:

    Yes, a more dispersed pattern is can be one way of getting more efficient. It should be among the options. People have poured into cities under a certain set of conditions. Whether they continue to do so or whether there is a movement to other patterns change as energy gets more expensive and the internet allows many to work from wherever they please will be interesting.

    I think you’re overestimating the impact that the Internet will have on settlement patterns over the long-term. A lot of what makes cities cities (and what makes them desirable places to live in or near) is the location of lots of different things (read: stuff to do) in the same place, something which would not be as easy to reproduce in smaller cities and towns. Furthermore, the resources needed to maintain the Internet’s infrastructure are just as dependent on the availability of cheap energy through fossil fuels as anything else. Increasing energy prices will alter what the Internet is capable of, particularly as rising costs make replacing aging infrastructure increasingly difficult.

  74. 74
    wrb says:

    @Quackosaur:

    I think you’re overestimating the impact that the Internet will have on settlement patterns over the long-term. A lot of what makes cities cities (and what makes them desirable places to live in or near) is the location of lots of different things (read: stuff to do) in the same place, something which would not be as easy to reproduce in smaller cities and towns.

    It will be interesting to see. I see the suburbs as a product of a tension for between the stuff people liked to do city and country. As Americans were forced to approach the cities for work they dug in their heels at distance at which they could still have things they still valued from country life: maybe they couldn’t have horses or sheep but they could still have a relationship with a large dog, they could garden, kids could play in a yard, and they might still get occasional glimpses of the divine and sublime in nature. That tension still exists. I expect with the cords of employment binding them to the city loosened, some will be pulled back out to the country . How many remains to be seen.

    The 19th century English pattern I mentioned was one in which people could live in the country and take a train to the city for an evening. Best of both worlds,perhaps.

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    shortstop says:

    @wrb:

    The 19th century English pattern I mentioned was one in which people could live in the country and take a train to the city for an evening. Best of both worlds,perhaps.

    Yes, if you’re Thomas Hardy. If you’re everyone else, not so much.

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