Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Alaskanomics: how Palin's state sucks the rest of the country dry

Michael Kinsley:

Alaska is, in essence, an adjunct member of OPEC. It has four different taxes on oil, which produce more than 89% of the state's unrestricted revenue. On average, three-quarters of the value of a barrel of oil is taken by the state government before that oil is permitted to leave the state. Alaska residents each get a yearly check for about $2,000 from oil revenues, plus an additional $1,200 pushed through by Palin last year to take advantage of rising oil prices. Any sympathy the governor of Alaska expresses for folks in the lower 48 who are suffering from high gas prices or can't afford to heat their homes is strictly crocodile tears.

As if it couldn't support itself, Alaska also ranks No. 1, year after year, in money it sucks in from Washington. In 2005 (the most recent figures), according to the Tax Foundation, Alaska ranked 18th in federal taxes paid per resident ($5,434) but first in federal spending received per resident ($13,950). Its ratio of federal spending received to federal taxes paid ranks third among the 50 states, and in the absolute amount it receives from Washington over and above the amount it sends to Washington, Alaska ranks No. 1.

Alaska has been masterful in having the federal government send billions, while it gives its own tax revenues directly to its citizens. While Alaska could afford to pay for its bridges to nowhere (Palin approved!), it would rather have the rest of the 49 states shoulder the cost.

It gets away with it, and I won't begrudge a state or its federal delegation the ability to deliver the goods. Well, as long as they stay within the law. Otherwise, let the FBI swarm in (as they have, in Alaska).

What I do begrudge is Sarah Palin and the GOP walking around lying about that record. Lying about her support for the Bridge to Nowhere. Lying about her supposed opposition to federal pork. Lying about her state's role in fueling that most obnoxious and corruption-inducing congressional practice.

The GOP's ability to stare voters straight in the eye and then feed them a load of mooseshit is second to none. But let's not kid ourselves about reality.

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