Southern Southern Southern

The ‘Moocher Myth’

It’s become somewhat of a Right Wing rallying cry over the past few decades. Conservatives yell and scream about how the liberals want to raise taxes to prop up the lazy, incompetent scum that keeps stealing their hard-earned money through federal programs like food stamps, Medicaid, housing assistance, unemployment etc… We’ve all heard it at one time or another. The liberals encourage people to sit around, collect welfare and get high. The right wing demands “fiscal responsibility” and budget cuts; if you don’t have a job, you probably don’t deserve one. Liberals mooch, conservatives work, and all of us would be better off without the heavy burden of contributing to the federal government.

What if All of That Was a Lie?

It is. Take a look at the numbers. The reality is that the vast majority of federal tax dollars goes to Southern (read, “Republican”) states.

The North is Propping up the South

In 2013, Southern states received $287 billion more from the federal government than they contributed in federal taxes, while the North received nearly $420 billion less than they contributed. Less than half of Southern states (12 out of 25), despite being “fiscally conservative”, contributed more than they received in 2013, compared to 65% of Northern states (17 out of 26). On average, Northern states received 94 cents for every dollar they paid in federal taxes, while Southern states received $1.48 per dollar[1].

In terms of contribution to the nation’s overall economy, the Northern States produced nearly 62% of the GDP in 2013, while the South produced only 38%. Likewise, the North contributed 64% of federal tax revenues and received 52% in return, while the South contributed only 36% and received 48%[2].

Despite what Fox News, et. al. would have you believe, it is clear that the Right-leaning (read, “Southern”) states benefit exponentially more from federal aid than their Northern counterparts. As a Northerner, I really don’t have a problem with this. It’s like having a roommate that pays less rent, pays it late and never buys food. If he’s cool, it’s no big deal. The problems start when he complains about other moochers taking advantage of him. That’s when it’s time for him to take his delusional arrogance and hit the road. Just like a freeloading roommate, there’s nothing wrong with supporting the South; if only they would just humbly accept it, and stop begrudging other people in need. If they think they can go it alone, maybe it’s time to just wish ’em luck and let ’em go.

1.  Tables of Federal Taxation and Spending by State  
2.  Values calculated using 2013 Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) data found here.  


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