No, it’s what happens when you can’t think. One of the newer issues causing wingnut hysteria is a study that alleges Democratic districts got more stimulus money than Republican ones. The study’s author writes,
Controlling for the percentage of the district employed in the construction industry, a proxy for the vulnerability to recession of a district, I find no statistical correlation for all relevant unemployment indicators and the allocation of funds. This suggests that unemployment is not the factor leading the awards. Also, I found no correlation between other economic indicators, such as income, and stimulus funding.
Nate Silver, bless him, finds the correlation:
The district that received the largest amount of stimulus funding in the 4th Quarter of 2009, according to de Rugy’s tally, is California’s 5th Congressional District. Is there anything notable about the 5th Congressional? Well, it is home to the state capital, Sacramento. Let’s keep that in mind.
Next on the list is New York’s 21st Congressional District. The largest city in the 21st is the state capital of New York, Albany.
Third is the 21st Congressional District of Texas. It contains parts of Texas’ state capital, the wonderful city of Austin. (Another district that contains parts of Austin — the 25th — ranks 14th on de Rugy’s list.)
At this point, it ought to be pretty obvious what is going on. The three districts receiving the largest amount of stimulus funds are home to the capitals of the three largest states — New York, California, and Texas. Let’s pause for a moment and make a bold prediction. I’ll bet you that the district that ranks 4th on the list will contain the capital of the 4th largest state, Florida.
Bingo. Up 4th on the list is Florida’s 2nd Congressional, home to Tallahassee.
Fifth is Pennsylvania’s 17th, which hosts the state capital, Harrisburg.
In other words, the stimulus funds went from the federal government to state agencies, which nearly always have main offices near the state capitol buildings, which then distributed the monies throughout the state.
All together now: Duh.
Nate provides a chart showing that the whopping majority of districts hosting state capitals are “D” districts, and this is true even in “R” states such as Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Texas. As Nate points out, these districts tend to be relatively urban and home to state universities — that’s not always true, of course. But they’re also home to lots of government employees who have college educations. Hence, they are more likely to be “D” voters. It’s becoming more and more apparent that your average “R” can’t critically think his way out of a wet paper bag.
The wingnuts, however, continue to hyperventilate over the “fact” that Democrats districts are getting almost twice as much money on average than Republican districts. Check out the comments at Breitbart’s Big Government site, if you have the stomach for it.
de Rugy wrote her paper for the Mercatus center at George Mason, a libertarian outpost where she is a senior research fellow. She testified about the paper before Congress, she’s an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, a director of the Center for Freedom and Prosperity, a former scholar at AEI, a columnist for Reason, and and a frequent contributor for National Review Online. There are hundreds of people like her in Washington, most of them conservative, living well-compensated lives of pure ideological hackery.
If you are a wingnut, and you can dress yourself and don’t smell too badly, you too can be a senior adjunct fellow scholar columnist and make a dandy living in Washington.