Alabama, 10th Top ‘Taker’ State, Is Most Conservative, According to New Poll

A new poll from Gallup found that more Alabamians think of themselves as “conservative” than residents of any other state. This puts the state in the running for first in hypocrisy, since it is also the tenth biggest recipient of federal spending among the states, versus its tax receipts. (The District of Columbia was the top recipient, but it is not a state.)

Yes, this tea party/neo-Confederate hotbed is also the 10th largest “taker” state. Here’s an overview of the socialist largess that jack-booted bureaucrats from the federal government shove down Alabama’s throat:

Total federal spending in Alabama — the big picture that includes salaries, contracts, Social Security, Medicare and hundreds of other direct payments to individuals and institutions — averaged $11,819 per capita, above the national average of $10,459. The federal government sent almost $56.5 billion to the state, which was about evenly divided among four broad categories: defense, healthcare, Social Security and all other agencies combined.

Ten years ago, the spending in Alabama was about $29.2 billion, or about $6,570 per person. Back then the national average was $5,739 per capita.

The state motto of Alabama is “Thank God for Mississippi” because their neighbor to the west usually saves them from being the worst in rankings like these. Not this time. The Gallup poll found that Mississippians ranked third in the Gallup poll among self-described conservative state residents — North Dakota and Wyoming were tied for second — while Mississippi is the ninth to Alabama’s tenth among moocher states.

If Alabamians really were fiscal conservatives, they would live within their means and refuse to accept every dime of federal spending that exceeds what their residents pay in federal taxes.


  • February 1, 2013 - 8:19 am | Permalink

    Great article, lets spread the news far and wide!

  • Ben
    February 1, 2013 - 10:22 am | Permalink

    Not really fair to put defense spending in there.

    Take out all defense spending from both Alabama’s numbers and the overall per capita, then come back and try again with something that actually means anything.

  • Kyle
    February 1, 2013 - 11:14 am | Permalink

    Why isn’t it fair to put defense spending there? It is money coming from the national budget that is (for the most part) being piped indirectly into local Alabama economies via soldier spending? I would guess that thousands of small businesses depend on those soldier’s incomes to survive.

  • A
    February 1, 2013 - 11:18 am | Permalink

    I doubt Jon really understood what he was saying when he wrote this article.

  • Kyle
    February 1, 2013 - 11:25 am | Permalink

    The majority of defense spending goes to federal contractors and not soldiers. My mistake.

  • Bill
    February 1, 2013 - 11:26 am | Permalink

    Completely fair to count defense spending. In the absense of defense spending cuts, Alabama can either invest its own state resources into an economic growth agenda, or stay un-diversified and be at risk of economic setback when defense spending is cut. Because we all know that Alabama is not investing in education and jobs like a more progressive state would, they are federal “takers” in an even worse sense, in that the fed budget makes an investment in Alabama, vis-a-vis defense spending on living wage jobs, and Alabama squanders that.

  • Chris
    February 1, 2013 - 11:41 am | Permalink

    Neo-Conservatives ignore military spending when in fact it is a big part of our overspending. Their Neo-Conservative/Tea Party politicians don’t care because the military protects corporate interests abroad and helps the individual State’s bottom line even though that money flow increases our National Debt.

    When you boil it down everyone in the military is filling a PUBLIC sector job.

  • R
    February 1, 2013 - 12:22 pm | Permalink

    Bill, defense spending in Alabama is used for government contractos for the most part. With those federal monies, contractors design, test, and produce much of our military’s technology and support.

    We have Lockheed Martin (defense & aerospace), Boeing (defense & aerospace), Raytheon (defense missile design/production), Northrop Grumman (defense & aerospace) and NASA all as large employers in North Alabama in addition to the hundreds of smaller contractors that support all branches of our military. To say that the state of Alabama “squanders” that money is ridiculous. Drones were designed in Alabama, new missile technology is designed in Alabama, new aviation technology (both fixed and rotary-wing) is designed and tested in Alabama, new weapons systems are designed and tested in Alabama.

    Ask our soldiers if they think that money has been squandered.

    You say, “we all know that Alabama is not investing in education and jobs like a more progressive state would,”. Please explain how “we all know” this. Do you stay current with the Alabama legislature?

    Admittedly, the investments in education are lacking in Alabama. I don’t think the same can be said for investments in jobs. Alabama is ranked 26th in unemployment at 7.1%, down from a high of 10.6 in 2009.

    It’s easy to throw stones at Alabama because of the preconceived notions about the predominant political ideology, religious ferver, obesity rate, education statistics (I could really go on and on), but I really believe the Federal Governmnet and the rest of the US taxpayers reap huge benefits from the money invested in Alabama through defense spending.

  • Z
    February 1, 2013 - 12:36 pm | Permalink

    If the left wants to say this is hypocrisy they have to admit that Warren Buffett is a hypocrite for advocating higher taxes for the wealthy and not paying more himself. It’s fine for Alabama to want the country to live within its means but then also think that if the federal government is going to spend more than it takes in that they should get some of that as well.

  • CatBallou
    February 1, 2013 - 3:02 pm | Permalink

    “Ask our soldiers if they think that money has been squandered.” Geez, trotting out THAT old sacred cow?”If your argument is bad, wrap it up in the flag!”
    Ask a welfare recipient whether welfare payments represent squandered money. Ask a CEO whether his exorbitant salary is reasonable. I’m pretty sure NO ONE thinks money THEY receive has been squandered!
    Yes, I think most of our defense spending is squandered. What a terrible waste of money, resources, and human lives.

  • woody
    February 1, 2013 - 4:09 pm | Permalink

    Neo Conservatives hate the tea party. They would side with leftists and communists before they would side with a real conservative. So a red state makes 10th on the list. No mention of the other 9 in the list? This isn’t a game anymore. Let us part ways peacefully. Or you can exit the debate horizontally.

    • Madison
      February 1, 2013 - 5:42 pm | Permalink

      Horizontally, huh. Hey, don’t let the screen door hit ya. But remember that if you declare war on the United States again, this time the Union will have predator drones, bunker-busters and nukes. And btw, it’s not just neocons, nobody likes tea baggers. They’re down to 8% according to the right-wing pollster Rasmussen.

  • February 1, 2013 - 7:38 pm | Permalink

    As an Alabamian, I should point out that we have led the way in not taxing ourselves — or at least not taxing our richest residents. Our state income tax is supposedly flat, but deductions make it possible for millionaires to pay half the effective rate of the poorest family in Alabama — and we start taxing income at the incredibly low threshold of $6,000 a year.

    When you go to Montgomery and talk about all this, though, you’ll be informed that we are different because we are a POOR STATE. See how that works?

  • Mitch
    February 2, 2013 - 8:49 am | Permalink

    Jon, if you’re going to write an article criticizing our state, why don’t you take a couple minutes to proofread what you wrote jackass….”a overview”?? How about “an overview”? And don’t assume that all Alabamians are on the take. The majority of us bust our ass everyday and never take a dime from the government.

  • February 2, 2013 - 11:48 am | Permalink

    Inbreeding causes stupid.

  • Fuzz Leonard
    February 2, 2013 - 3:11 pm | Permalink

    “If the left wants to say this is hypocrisy they have to admit that Warren Buffett is a hypocrite for advocating higher taxes for the wealthy and not paying more himself.”

    Warren Buffett has specifically asked for his personal taxes to be raised. The federal government does not have some sort of tax donation system in place where one can just opt to pay more.

    The defense money is entirely part of the point here. Those contracts are won by congressmen an d lobbyists in DC and are built on years of federal investment in Alabama above and beyond what Alabama was contributing to the federal budget. That makes perfect sense when we are one big, happy country, but then you get into this nonsense where the residents of states like Alabama are under the impression that they are independent of the federal government and should not have to deal with universal health care and other things they don’t want to spend “their” money on. Play that scenario out (like the secession guys over in Mississippi) and you have the federal government telling Alabama it can do whatever it likes but it is closing down Redstone and its other North Alabama facilities and moving elsewhere and Alabama will not receive a dime more in federal money than it puts in and Alabama becomes an apocalyptic wasteland in short order.

  • April 30, 2013 - 8:31 pm | Permalink

    Pretty silly. Military spending (a public good) goes to rural states because blue states won’t let us plunk new bases down in Manhattan or downtown San Fran. People retire to red states because cost of living is lower. And the net transfer is small relative to their GDP.

    Consider too that 95% of the nation’s food supply is grown in red counties, and more than half is consumed in blue counties. Those ag subsidies make food cheaper in blue counties… and the blue counties would collapse in a week without red county food.

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