Presenting the Moocher Index

Dan Mitchell of the Cato Institute posted an interesting table on his blog today. Subtracting each state’s poverty rate from its participation rate in federal welfare programs (as compiled by the Center for Immigration Studies), Mitchell found what he calls “a measure of how many non-poor people are signed up for income-redistribution programs,” a.k.a. the Moocher Index. (Hint: If you’re looking for Georgia, you have to scroll down almost to the bottom.)

moocher-index

There aren't many moochers in Georgia after all

It’s a fairly unscientific exercise, and Mitchell notes a number of caveats in his blog post. But it is interesting because it appears to turn on its head the conventional wisdom that Southerners, while claiming to be conservative, also take a disproportionate amount of money from the feds.

In absolute-dollar terms, that may still be true. But Mitchell’s Moocher Index suggests that the propensity of non-poor people in many Southern states to enroll in welfare programs is actually quite low compared to the rest of the nation. That in turn seems to undermine the idea that individual Southerners are hypocritical in their view of federal funds. More people down here truly don’t take from the very programs they criticize.

42 comments Add your comment

Kyle Wingfield

June 16th, 2010
3:38 pm

(This is also posted in the previous entry’s comments thread)

Oh ye of many names, most recently “the crazies are loose”: Stealing other bloggers’ handles isn’t allowed on here. You’re off the blog for two days.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

June 16th, 2010
4:26 pm

Dear Kyle, am I blocked too? Every time I try to post a short note on your blog the server rejects it.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

June 16th, 2010
4:28 pm

Trying for the third time, leaving out one word

Interesting list, don’t see any strong correlation to tax burden or median income. 6 of the top 9 Moocher states are New England or New York – maybe unexpected, maybe not. The most self-sufficient nine are all outside the rust belt. I an inherently wary of lumping peoples together to draw conclusions about character, but the list will be good for conversation later.

HDB`

June 16th, 2010
4:34 pm

Question: If that were the case, why are 7 out of the Top 20 moocher states in the South?? , ?? Are there more moochers there than in any Southern state?? Are they still trying to collect from the North because of the Civil War???

Just wondering……

Linda

June 16th, 2010
4:34 pm

It’s because we “cling to” our “guns or religion” & our trucks, as Obama said.
We would rather hunt, shoot it & eat it. We know right from wrong. We know where we come from, where we’re going & how to get there. And, thank God, we don”t have to eat arugula.

Keep up the good fight!

June 16th, 2010
4:47 pm

Right Linda…because all Southerners hunt and eat their kill…including the many Northern transplants that increased the Atlanta population. I suspect that maybe only your Piggly Wiggly doesn’t sell arugula…but you may want to try Whole Foods and even Publix.

Kyle Wingfield

June 16th, 2010
4:51 pm

HDB: New England is by far the region that’s disproportionately represented at the top, followed by the West Coast (inc. HI and AK).

Again, this is all very unscientific. But it is interesting.

Kyle Wingfield

June 16th, 2010
4:53 pm

Ragnar: I take it you found the word that was putting your comment in the spam filter.

Rev. Menthol Shatbat

June 16th, 2010
4:55 pm

HDB`

You still mooching off your parents?

HDB`

June 16th, 2010
5:00 pm

Rev. Menthol Shatbat

June 16th, 2010
4:55 pm
HDB`

You still mooching off your parents?

Nope….don’t live in Mississippi!!

jconservative

June 16th, 2010
5:00 pm

Looking at the states it is obvious that the old “all blacks are on welfare” stereotype is dead wrong.

The numbers in some states may be a reflection of how much aid is made available to “the poor” to assist in enrolling in various programs.
Some states have large departments that virtually fill out the application.

HDB`

June 16th, 2010
5:02 pm

Kyle – save for Massachussetts and Rhode Island, the New England states have a lower population than those in the South….so doesn’t it mean that a larger amount of Southerners are moochers?? (Granted, it IS an interesting concept!)

HDB`

June 16th, 2010
5:03 pm

jconservative June 16th, 2010
5:00 pm

Good point!!

Linda

June 16th, 2010
5:06 pm

Keep Up @ 4:47, You can take the girl out of the country, but…..
I don’t buy dirt, ice, air (tires), plastic bags, checks, bottled water, etc. I don’t shop at Publix & I don’t eat arugula.

Kyle Wingfield

June 16th, 2010
5:15 pm

HDB: I suspect that’s why the absolute-dollar figures look different. It could also depend on how poor your poor are — I would guess (hope?) that dirt-poor people get more assistance than those just below the poverty line. So, if the poor in Southern states are poorer than those elsewhere, the Southern states would get more money.

But as I said, this table is interesting imo because it indicates the likelihood that a household in a given state seeks out and receives federal welfare even if they aren’t considered poor. It suggests you’re more likely to do that in Vermont than anywhere else. Why is that?

Any sociologists out there with a theory about this?

HDB`

June 16th, 2010
5:24 pm

Kyle – one possibility: The ability to earn may be less in Vermont than it is in the South. There may not be much diversification in industry as it is in the South. Another reason is the differential in the cost of living in New England……that could cause more people to seek assistance, particularly for winter heating costs. In the South, however, it’s numbers, education, and political power structure….and in some areas, lack of industry diversification…..note West Virginia, South Carolina, Arkansas, and Mississippi…..

Peter

June 16th, 2010
5:29 pm

Let’s talk about real moochers Kyle……let’s start with Cost Plus Contracts given to buddies by Cheney.

Kyle Wingfield

June 16th, 2010
5:53 pm

Sadly, Peter, corporate welfare is a bipartisan plague that’s existed for far more than 10 years.

Curious observer

June 16th, 2010
6:00 pm

Peter,

I have been here often enough to see you as a one-trick pony.

More intersting than Cheney is America West Bank (G. Soros, Michael Dell and other Dem crooks) stealing tens of billions of dollars through the Fed and in the process throwing Americans from their homes in spite of “Mr. Hope and Change” and his pledge to stop the foreclosures. Democrat= Lying Thief.

Or, how about the car dealer closings by Chrysler and GM after the government theft of the companies from the legitimate creditors? All Republican contributors on the list save one $250 donor to a Democrat. I suppose Peter supports this type of criminal behavior until the next government comes for his business and rolls Peter’s retirement plan into Social Security.

Rev. Menthol Shatbat

June 16th, 2010
6:04 pm

“Nope….don’t live in Mississippi!!”

People in many places mooch off their parents. Not just Miss.

Curious observer

June 16th, 2010
6:09 pm

Poor Peter and Kyle – there is no such thing as “corporate welfare”. This is another empty Liberal label aimed at those who produce by those who do not.

When will you learn corporations do not pay tax, therefore tax breaks for corporations benefit the investors, you know those evil corporate and public pension plans who own the stock along with the tens of thousands of individual investors (Americans). Coke and Pepsi both benefit from tax deductions and thus their prices remain competitive with all soft drink companies. Eliminate the tax breaks and the consumer pays, very simple.

Why do you two think Obama wishes to raise taxes on the oil companies? As a penalty for the behavior of BP? If you believe that you are truly naive. The Obama plan is to drive all energy costs insanely high in order to crush Capitalism, as he stated during his campaign. At least he stated he wished to close the coal industry and drive energy prices higher – the end result being the death of Capitalism.

Rev. Menthol Shatbat

June 16th, 2010
6:09 pm

“Let’s talk about real moochers Kyle……let’s start with Cost Plus Contracts given to buddies by Cheney.”

Or how about the democrat party who receives large amounts of money from BP….

Rev. Menthol Shatbat

June 16th, 2010
6:11 pm

I guess the thrill is gone from Chris Matthew’s leg……..

Rev. Menthol Shatbat

June 16th, 2010
6:12 pm

Rev. Menthol Shatbat

June 16th, 2010
6:15 pm

Irony. Ex-FEMA chief Michael Brown’s deputy Thad Allen is now in charge of the oil crisis.

Curious observer

June 16th, 2010
6:23 pm

Back to the oil spill while I am here.

Under the Obama government a speedy solution to the oil spill would have been counter productive.

The key word for Obama is CRISIS and the government foot-dragging has now created an opportunity for the Obama administration to claim drastic measures (read as tax increases) are required to solve the crisis.

Of course his track record on solving a crisis is grim. The banking industry is still teetering, unemployment (even with doctored reports) is high, foreclosures continue at a record pace, public debt is out of control, deficits are unmanageable and public confidence in government and the POTUS is nearing record lows.

But Obama did deliver a speech last night from the Oval Office, I just could not tell form his words exactly the purpose of the speech, was he campaigning or is he just a devotee of empty rhetoric?

Curious observer

June 16th, 2010
6:25 pm

“Throw Out The Trash” the opportunity comes to your town on November 2, 2010. Dump every incumbent.

Gator Joe

June 16th, 2010
6:33 pm

Kyle,
Unscientific, sums up this material, I believe you are capable of doing better than this. You people ont the right will jump on this type of “science”, yet you ignore the science on global warming, air polution, and on and on. In the end

Gator Joe

June 16th, 2010
6:33 pm

In the end it’s pick and choose your studies.

Rev. Menthol Shatbat

June 16th, 2010
6:34 pm

Gator Joe

Shouldn’t you be on Tucker’s blog stroking her fading ego?

Kyle Wingfield

June 16th, 2010
7:55 pm

As it happens, Curious Observer, I agree about corporate taxes. But what do you say about outright subsidies — say, to agribusiness?

Kyle Wingfield

June 16th, 2010
7:56 pm

Gator Joe: I’m sorry if you thought I was presenting the Moocher Index with anything like the seriousness of a global warming study. I said it was unscientific from the get-go.

jarjar

June 16th, 2010
8:51 pm

Kyle –

What’s up with the first post? Some of us have multiple computers, laptops and I-phones. The latter two reproduce new IP’s all the time. Why the banning? Unless someone sent you their one and only IP addy, you really have no way of knowing who is who and where and when. That’s something that Nazi Cynthia Tucker would do. You aren’t really a John McCain type conservative are you??? Come on, you are better than that.

Kyle Wingfield

June 16th, 2010
10:33 pm

jarjar: You are right about people having multiple IP addresses, but what gave it away this time is that the poster was using another person’s handle to make explicit, derogatory comments and claims about that person. I knew exactly what was going on in this case.

I try to cut people some slack as often as I can, but I this is something I won’t tolerate.

DEWSTARPATH

June 17th, 2010
7:43 am

Jarjar – I agree with Kyle.

– It’s not always about identifying the IP address. A lot of
posters have a specific method of syntax and subject-verb
selection and orientation that indicates who they are.

Not that those things can’t be spoofed as well. But over time,
their habits give them away – like handwriting.

Intown

June 17th, 2010
10:49 am

This seems to correlate with each state’s rank in power in Congress. GA, with two relatively less senior senators in the minority party is near the bottom. Southerner’s gettin’ days were best during the New Deal. FDR was your best friend.

Kyle Wingfield

June 17th, 2010
11:06 am

So Vermont, Mississippi and Maine are the three most powerful states? Nevada, with the Senate majority leader, is the least powerful?

I realize you weren’t saying they correlate directly, Intown, but I’m not sure congressional power explains this one.

No More Progressives!

June 17th, 2010
12:09 pm

HDB`

June 16th, 2010
5:02 pm
Kyle – save for Massachussetts and Rhode Island, the New England states have a lower population than those in the South….

New York City metro area has more people than GA and AL combined, I’m inclined to think.

No More Progressives!

June 17th, 2010
12:17 pm

Keep up the good fight!

June 16th, 2010
4:47 pm
I suspect that maybe only your Piggly Wiggly doesn’t sell arugula…

What is this? Why should I eat it, just because “Northern Transplants” have it imported?

Piggly Wiggly sells everything a good Southerner needs. If they ain’t got it, I don’t need it.

HDB

June 17th, 2010
3:46 pm

No More Progressives!
June 17th, 2010
12:09 pm

NYC is considered to be in the Mid-Atlantic states…not New England…

No More Progressives!

June 18th, 2010
7:35 am

HDB

June 17th, 2010
3:46 pm
No More Progressives!
June 17th, 2010
12:09 pm

NYC is considered to be in the Mid-Atlantic states…not New England…

By who? You?

TjAtl

June 18th, 2010
2:24 pm

I could argue that Southerners are much more likely to feel “entitled” to SSI disability benefits. The Kaiser Family Foundation has compiled statistics straight from the SSA database. (check it yourself: http://www.statehealthfacts.org/comparemaptable.jsp?ind=259&cat=4) The national average for the number of people receiving SSI disability benefits as a percentage of population is 2.1%.

Here are the top 10, as a percentage of population:
West Virginia 4.20%
Kentucky 4.10%
Mississippi 3.80%
District of Columbia 3.60%
Louisiana 3.50%
Alabama 3.30%
Arkansas 3.30%
New York 2.70%
Rhode Island 2.70%
Maine 2.50%

There are really 3 times the percentage of disabled people in Louisiana as there are in Colorado?

Data is even available by county for Georgia. Poorer Georgia counties that are predominantly white (Toombs, Ware, Laurens, among others) have a much higher percentage of the population drawing SSI (4-5%) than perceived “welfare drains” like Fulton And DeKalb (around 2%).

Disability benefits are warranted in a great many cases, but the data would suggest that there are a whole bunch of able bodied rednecks sitting around on their butts collecting their “disability” check, not thinking of it as “welfare”.