Talk:Federal taxation and spending by state

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Untitled[edit]

how do I add categories? how do I add links that are in wikipedia? are they internal links? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Crosbyk (talkcontribs)

{{linkless}} means: go to other articles and create links to this one. I am going back to bed now so you will have peace fro me for a while. -- RHaworth (Talk | contribs) 08:18, 14 December 2007 (UTC)

Discuss addition of table[edit]

I thought this was the best place to add this table, instead of creating a new article. I tried to add it in a way that doesn't disrupt the flow of the article, by placing it at the bottom. I did think that the article itself was better represented by a general introduction, so I moved the historical material about Sen. Patrick Moynihan to a separate section. My general intro is a quick generic version and should be expanded. Jaywilson (talk) 09:16, 30 July 2012 (UTC)

Suggestions for change[edit]

Hi all. I like this article but I have a few suggestions:

  • The article title should be changed to "Federal spending and taxation by state" to make it more accurate and encyclopedic; the term "across states" is a bit colloquial.
  • I think the chart that compares federal spending and taxation violates by WP:OR and WP:BIAS. If we want to include a section on the political debate over federal spending, then that should be included with sources. But to create a chart that links federal spending with the result of a single presidential election is too much.
  • Instead of direct federal spending in each state, I find that the calculation of total federal grants to each state is much more interesting. Federal spending in each state is largely for the benefit of the nation, whether it's a military base in Texas, disease research in Atlanta, or the operation of the federal departments in D.C. Grants that go to each state and local government more directly reflect the amount of federal "aid" that goes to each state and such calculations should likely be included here as well. See: http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/11051/how-much-federal-money-does-dc-actually-get/

Best, epicAdam(talk) 15:41, 30 July 2012 (UTC)

Re: Suggestions for change[edit]

  • I agree about the title.
  • I added the chart, including the last column. The pattern linking taxation, spending, and voting patterns is not my original research. The links I provided, including an article from the very mainstream and respected publication The Economist, show that this pattern is already well known and much discussed. I agree that a more comprehensive indication of political affiliation may be desirable, but it is hard to find and harder to choose. What period of time is appropriate to choose? The last 5 elections? The last 10? I chose to use the presidential election that was closest in time to the data I was using, using the 2008 election data with 2007 economic data. I will put the link to the Economist in the references section as a response to the suggestion.
  • As to bias, the referenced WP:BIAS article does not provide constructive guidelines. In regard to bias in general, I do not believe that drawing attention to patterns linking economic level to voting behavior is inherently biased. The sources I have used are mainstream and impeccable. There is a very high threshold for true, indisputable facts being considered biased or incendiary. One example that would be incendiary in my opinion is (even if any reputable research supports it, which I don't know) any links between race and intelligence. But links between economics and voting are matters of group choice, a valid topic from the perspectives of sociology, political science, and economics.
  • Thank you for the link to an interesting article with compelling data. However, this data only includes grants directly to state and local governments. It doesn't include payments to individuals such as social security or disability, or payments to providers such as medicare. These have to be considered in terms of total aid given to states, and the amounts are huge. As for payments for programs such as NASA or the military that benefit the whole country but happen to be located in particular states, I will concede that these are a grayer area. But they do boost the state economy and those dollars still do "trickle down" to state residents who pay state taxes, so it's not unreasonable to include those monies as well. If a change here were warranted, the suggestion of a data source that included all aid, to state and local governments as well as directly and indirectly to individuals, would be helpful.

Thanks, Jaywilson (talk) 16:56, 30 July 2012 (UTC)

Re: Re: Suggestions for change[edit]

Hi Jaywilson. Information presented here should be limited to what those sources actually say. They should not be used as a basis to include additional data that may conform to those conclusions but isn't provided in the original source. For example, the table should list information as it is shown in the Economist without any additional calculations, or any additional information that was not included (such as who won the last presidential contest).
When an editor adds extraneous information like that, it often leads to a greater perception of bias; as if the editor is trying to prove a point using Wikipedia as a tool to disseminate a particular point of view. All the data included in this article appears to use many examples that come to the same conclusion: that conservative-leaning states are hypocrites. That may be true, but those conclusions should always be attributed to their source and presented without further uncited commentary. For example, after the information is presented in a chart, additional text can say "The Economist magazine found that many states that accept more federal money are conservative-leaning" etc. As for the amount of money each state gets in proportion to its budget, I meant for that to be included as an additional section; not to replace other information. Best, epicAdam(talk) 17:36, 30 July 2012 (UTC)

Re: Re: Re: Suggestions for change[edit]

There is a difference between data and conclusions. I haven't pointed the reader toward the conclusion that conservative states are hypocrites any more than I've pointed the reader to the conclusion that liberal states are foolish for advocating policies that send their money away. I'm merely combining several reputable sources in one table, just as any article is allowed to cite more than one source. By the way, the reference that included the link to liberal and conservative states was the Tax Foundation article, which I've now cited, and not The Economist. All I've done is put a column of data from the New York Times next to columns of data from the IRS and the Census Bureau, added one prefatory (and cited) sentence that explains why I added that data but not commenting further, and put in references to the pattern as discussed on some popular web sites. I have not referred to hypocrisy or foolishness on anyone's part. This is an interesting trend, an ironic trend, but it is one that has developed from our national politics and should be known and discussed in an informed manner. It does not make anyone a hypocrite or a fool individually, by state, or by region.

You seem to be saying that data about the federal budget cannot be juxtaposed with data about politics, when the federal budget is all about politics. It is not extraneous data. This is absolutely the correct place to put this data, juxtaposed so that readers can evaluate this trend (to the extent that it is one) for themselves. Otherwise, under a pretense of being "unbiased" we may purge the very data from Wikipedia that would allow people to make informed decisions about an issue that they could otherwise actually be ill-informed and biased about. I am not referencing fuckthesouth.com or trying to put a rant in wikipedia. In fact, the data show that "red" states like Texas and Nebraska are way up the contributor list, while "blue" states like Maryland and Hawaii are way down it. And unless people read the table, they won't know that.

However, out of deference to you, since I see you are a regular contributor especially in regard to taxes, and you are a fellow Washingtonian (I'm from Fairfax but now live near London) I'll try to revise the sentence in the text so that it is even more circumspect in its wording. I do value your feedback. -- Jaywilson (talk) 18:53, 30 July 2012 (UTC)

Further improvements to table and added section[edit]

Hold on, Adam, I'm making some more changes you may like... Jaywilson (talk) 19:09, 30 July 2012 (UTC)

Changes made, including name change and new section as you suggested. Please let me know what you think. Jaywilson (talk) 20:28, 30 July 2012 (UTC)

I've included election results for 2000 and 2004 so the reader has more context to judge political trends and in response to Adams criticism that I was including data from only one election. These two elections were good bellwethers because the country became more polarized during this period, they were recent, they were evenly matched, and the two elections were stable in terms of results (only 3 states switched sides between 2000 and 2004, and two of those three were probably due to voting for the local candidate in 2004). Jaywilson (talk) 09:13, 1 August 2012 (UTC)

In line with the above argument, I just added in the 2012 results. Manning (talk) 00:31, 15 November 2012 (UTC)
Let me just say "Thank you" and I think this page is looking very good. Jaywilson (talk) 18:27, 7 December 2012 (UTC)

Table accuracy[edit]

Accepting that it's 5 years out of date, either things have changed a lot in those 5 years or there's some sort of disconnect in figures (or I'm reading something wrong) - this article, with figures from 2010, suggests that DC only gets back 30 cents in federal spending for every dollar it pays in federal taxation: http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/02/the-map-that-proves-red-staters-use-the-safety-net-too.php?ref=fpb --82.35.251.109 (talk) 02:59, 11 November 2012 (UTC)

The map and the table are showing different things, one's a ratio and the other is a per-capita difference. Still, I find it odd as well, you'd expect the direction to be the same in both of them. —johndburger 04:02, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
DC is a hard one to reliably define - it's not a "state" so decisions about what should and should not be included vary. Some analyses include certain items as "federal" expenses - eg. secret service protection of foreign embassies - and others regard them as "DC expenses". This naturally results in wildly different figures. Who's "correct" is a judgment call. Manning (talk) 00:29, 15 November 2012 (UTC)

I think the difference is that the table data includes all federal spending, like contracts to build submarines, and that includes all those federal employee salaries and contractor payments that are concentrated in DC. Contrast to the link to the TPM article, where the graphic is labeled to explain that this is only including personal benefits such as social security, medicare, and food stamps. So by that standard, DC is no longer such a huge outlier. You may still think there is a lot of poverty in DC and the benefits must be pretty high, but DC is also a very affluent city with a very high medium income and therefore a high rate of taxation, which must be what is bringing the ratio down to $0.30 to the dollar. I put the table in in the first place a few months ago, and I chose the data I did because it was more complete, I think. It might be more meaningful to use the benefit-only data instead. Thoughts? Jaywilson (talk) 04:26, 7 December 2012 (UTC)

Manning and Jaywilson are correct. Determining how much money D.C. receives from the federal government all depends on what numbers you're looking at. First, there's a large discrepancy between federal spending in the District (i.e. funding for the operation of federal agencies) versus federal spending on the District (i.e. money that go to local programs like education grants and Medicaid). Second, all of the District's locally generated revenue (everything from property taxes to sewer bills) are collected by the federal government and then re-appropriated back to the city each year by Congress. Many times those local funds are included in what "federal" money is spent on the city, creating a large distortion. Given that few of these surveys release their full methodology, it's often impossible to decipher which calculations they're using. Best, epicAdam(talk) 06:39, 7 December 2012 (UTC)

Page rename[edit]

Can we rename this article to make it clearly US related? As currently titled, this article could also apply to India or Australia (to name but two). Manning (talk) 00:34, 15 November 2012 (UTC)

I agree. How about "US federal taxation and spending by state"? Do you mind making the change? Jaywilson (talk) 04:06, 7 December 2012 (UTC)

Table neutrality[edit]

First off, let me state that I am a libertarian partially identified with the Republican Party. Second, I am a resident of New Jersey and livid about how other states live on our dime. The first statement shows potential bias in bringing this motion, that is, I would want to eliminate information damaging to the Republican Party. However, the second statement shows that this bias is balanced by a competing and opposite bias in favor of the chart. Finally, I am generally able to set aside bias in order to edit.

To the point, I think the table is pushing a POV that "red" states ironically get more than they pay, while "blue" states pay more than they get. In any article, this is pushing a POV, even if true on the surface. In this article, it doesnt even contribute anything to the article. This article is about taxation and spending by state, not taxation and voting by state. Thus, the table should be amended to exclude the voting history columns.--Metallurgist (talk) 13:24, 5 January 2013 (UTC)

In my opinion, the only way this information could be violating NPOV is if it was either giving undue weight to the issue of political position of the states, or if it was not accurately or completely presenting the information; most likely by omitting information that could otherwise sway opinion about the political positions of individual states.
To add, you could attempt to make the argument that the political position of the states is irrelevant to the article, but the article itself already puts into context the reason why political affiliation is relevant. Thus, such an argument would fall flat on it's face.
In this regard, I think the argument that NPOV might be violated could be made by arguing that the information in the chart doesn't properly reflect the political positions of the states. But to do that, you'd have to demonstrate that there is a better method of showing the political positions of the states. Metallurgist, I would support your contention of NPOV if you had (or are able to) show that the political affiliations of the states are not properly being shown in this chart. But since you have not done that - and until you are able to do that - I must OPPOSE a NPOV edit, as it seems only to remove relevant, factually correct information from the article. ialsoagree (talk) 22:02, 7 January 2013 (UTC)
I also oppose a NPOV edit. I believe an especially strong case must be made in support of removing facts from an article because their inclusion supposedly indicates bias. I do not believe even a basic case for bias has been made here. Further, I would suggest that leaving the "The neutrality of this section is disputed" label in place is inherently misleading in this specific instance. It tends to imply that there is dispute over the factuality of the information, and that it tainted by bias. In fact, the only allegation is that the article includes undisputed facts, but the inclusion of facts about the voting records of the states is evidence of bias. I would propose removing the disputation label, or at least clarifying that there is no claim of factual error in the interim. Woodrobin (talk) 05:26, 2 May 2013 (UTC)
It seems the point of contention is that correlation does not imply causation. So, while accurate figures, might the inclusion be presenting a POV that is purely WP:SYN by implying a correlation not supported by the sources. I question what the take away for the reader would be and if base conclusions that would be drawn from the correlation is misleading. Morphh (talk) 16:48, 6 May 2013 (UTC)
I disagree with the claim that this is WP:SYN, because a quick google search shows there are numerous sources that can be cited on this matter, and one is already cited in this article, so it is not a conclusion being created by this article/table. This table does not appear to violate NPOV, however, perhaps it would be better to either reproduce or link to a table in a primary source rather than assembling the raw data into a new construct. Sbs9 (talk) 03:03, 7 October 2013 (UTC)
The presentation of data per capita is most certainly a non-biased POV. Many costs of government have more to do with providing access. May as well present spending per square mile. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 216.64.213.39 (talk) 16:12, 6 May 2013 (UTC)
There isn't a problem with the table per se but the idea that there is a connection or a controversy of politics affecting a state's political leaning. First to get to the bottom of it, it should be recognized that federal spending to a particular state is called "pork". Pork happens no matter which side of the political spectrum the population is. The section about the political position of states being the primary driver of spending or income is like making half-baked statements like that states that like federal money will apply for more federal grants. Although the evidence may show the statement to be true, it doesn't really contribute as a wikipedia article. The section is intended to be a headline or simply further a particular political cause that happens to have some facts thrown in. The citations used for that section should speak for itself that it is not a NPOV encyclopedia article but an amalgamation of facts used for partisan purposes. Unless wikipedia is now a going to be a place to put political campaign messages (no matter how factual), this connection about political leanings of states to the main article about income vs expenses should be removed altogether.2602:306:C498:82C0:7D3C:FF6A:176D:E6D4 (talk) 03:08, 24 May 2013 (UTC)
I'll preface my comment by disclosing up front that I identify as a political liberal and have been a lifelong supporter of the Democratic party. Thus my natural bias would be towards defending the inclusion of the table in the page because it presents a data view that supports my political values. However, I agree that the table violates the principle of Neutral Point of View with respect to the topic of federal taxation and spending. It exhibits what is known in social science as a selection bias, in that the choice of what data to display in the table is potentially biased toward supporting a particular point of view. Including the columns for presidential majority - to the exclusion of other possible correlates with net federal contribution - implies that the relationship between net contribution and presidential selection is (1) theoretically significant (not just a spurious correlation) and (2) more important than the relationship of net contribution to other potential correlates (e.g., age, urbanization, economic sector, etc.) that have been excluded from the table. The choice of "Net contribution per capita" versus other possible aggregate measures is also potentially biased, as it may exhibit a stronger correlation with presidential majority than other aggregate measures of taxation vs spending per state (such as dollar of federal spending received per dollar of federal tax paid). The subsection noting the controversy over this relationship, while IMHO is appropriate and in compliance with NPOV, does not somehow neutralize or justify the selection bias exhibited in the table. It would be entirely appropriate to include this table in a page specifically devoted to the topic of the controversy over the relationship between net federal contributions per state and voting behavior (and it would be appropriate to include a link to that separate page in the subsection that discusses the controversy). But the table per se is not appropriate for a page on the general topic of net federal contributions per state. 74.136.48.90 (talk) 02:17, 5 October 2013 (UTC)kylib
Let me say that I think the data of this table is chosen to present a POV and therefore is not a neutral article. I don't really think it makes much of a point, but it does seem to be Goebbelesque in the misinformation inherent in it. First of all, it only looks at one type of income, IRS tax revenue. Let's say Alaska has a large federal park. Do fees at the park help pay park rangers? Why not include those fees to offset some of the expense. Furthermore, doesn't ANWR (arctic national wildlife refuge) produce oil that generates a lot of money to the MMS in federal lease royalties? Many of the gulf coast states as well, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama likely contribute a lot of money via mineral or oil royalties, but this revenue is not credited to states vis IRS income tax data. There is another major distortion in IRS data and that concerns corporate taxation. A business that creates profit on a national scale, or even local to a state, say Alaska, will often incorporate in Delaware or NY. They do this because the corporate law in these states is well developed and there is a lot of case law to support efficient litigation or dispute resolution. But, all that corporate tax base is attributed to Delaware or NY. You will note that Delaware is #1 in the list. The reason for this is that corporate profit and tax from business operations in other states is incorrectly apportioned to Delaware simply because of corporate incorporation legal issues. Finally, another major distortion in this data, assume a military base is in Alaska. All of the spending or cost goes to Alaska. Many of the military employees at that base could be residents of other states. It seems odd to me, that they live and work in Alaska, but another state gets credit for their tax return submission, and frankly a bit unfair that Alaska would bear an unfair burden of national defense expense simply because a military base is there (Hawaii may also be hurt by this as well as Virginia or other states). So why include military spending at all? My guess is it helps the point the person compiling the data was trying to make. Lies, damned lies and statistics. Many data issues with polemical arguments. Not sure I am editing properly, but I question the neutrality of the data selection and its purpose.WashingtonRedFox (talk) 17:54, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
I was not going to jump into this discussion until there was updated data on the page. I just added a table for 2012 showing federal revenues, spending, and a comparative ratio to each state's gross product - a more telling indicator than per capita could ever be. Now that that's in place, I will contend that the entire addition of voting patterns and health care exchanges is not only in violation of a neutral point of view, it is also very much beyond the scope of the article. WashingtonRedFox is on the money about the shifting of taxes to a corporation-friendly haven such as Delaware; a comparison of states that use combined reporting would be more explanatory on this article than anything related to red state/blue state arguments. (A quick instructional review about the states that do and do not protect themselves from this accounting trick can be found here: [1].) What's more, I find very suspect that blog entries from the Tax Foundation are used as support for the election result & exchange comparisons, yet no actual articles from that same site are cited to account for varying tax collections between the states. I would recommend starting with this as an example: [2]. Farolif (talk) 09:06, 7 November 2013 (UTC)