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.
Update: More about the study and the study’s author:
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.
This is no surprise – remember how all the Rethuglican governors sent back the stimulus funds? Wait till they start whining when they lose federal funding because their constituents didn’t complete a census form – that will no doubt be a Democratic plot as well.
For the record, here in Missoula (known as the People’s Republic of Missoula by others in Montana) we are practically the only place in Montana that has stimulus money. Why? The local government planning office has had projects sitting around waiting for money for eons and were “shovel ready,” maybe if rednecks were willing to get off their butts and start accepting the constructive role of government they could benefit from future stimulus money!
OT – I was sure that I had mistakenly clicked on “The Onion” when I read this:
Bob K, Did ya read the comment section of your link?
erinyes, I was about to say the same thing. There’s actually some pretty funny stuff there. I wonder if maybe one of them “Law & Order” shows’ll do a “RIPPED from the headlines!!” episode about the whole to-do.
As for this post, which we only wish were a joke… man, I love Nate Silver. Always so calm, so factual, so reasonable. Like a subtle cool breeze on a hot day.
Referring to the mysterious “C” Street house in DC, the CREW director opined “…you can’t help but wonder exactly what these (Republica) members may be doing in return for all this largess (extremely low rents.)”
I know. They’re all sitting around frantically brainstorming looking for anything, anything at all they can ‘get’ Democrats with. Their criterion doesn’t have to be the truth of it, merely does it have a chance in hell of ‘sticking’ – to a Fox news spammer, to a Tea Party forehead, to Boehner…anybody?
They obviously have forgotten “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” story from their childhoods. It’s all getting really tiresome.
I think Veronique makes her first mistake in the assumption that unemployment is the determining factor in the allocation of stimulus money. It’s not only the 11 million people who got cut out of a livelihood because of Bush’s and the Repugican economics policies…It’s the millions upon millions of decent hard working Americans who have had the rug pulled out from under them by GOP sponsored corporate greed. Bush and his corporate cronies have sown enough financial misery so that there is enough misery to go around from middle income on down.
As a person in the construction industry living in economically flatlined Florida, I can give testimony that Bush and his buddies have inflicted the greatest hardship on the American family that I have ever seen in my forty plus years in the trades. It been an economic nightmare with no vision of relief in sight. In the evening the Misses and I sit on our front porch and sing Negro spirituals to help alleviate the burden put upon us by Bush and his corporate cronies… Swing lo sweet chariot coming for to carry me home.
I will never forget the words of my sainted grad stats class teacher, the lovely and talented Dr. Rita O’Sullivan at UNC-G. She told us that whenever we read a statistical study, the first question should be “Where’d they find those folks?”
Her constant focus on ascertaining the basic facts before concluding made the class truly useful and unforgettable. I have had only two useful math classes above the general math level, and they were both in statistics.
Let me see, where would an astute politicians apply money from stimulus programs? Somewhere near the capitals, and main cities, where most people may notice (and who happen to be mostly Democratic, by virtue of demographics and ecomonics), or the hinterlands?
A bridge to nowhere in Alaska, or a new road in a congested capitol, like Juneau? Of course, Sarah Dahlin’, never stuck around long enough to decide, or else Wassilla would have had a brand-spankin’ new open-roof Major League baseball stadium, seating 50,000, for two months of play – the rest on the road. Maybe it would have been the right choice. They might have been able to entice the Pittsburgh Pirates to come over. They’ve been a franchise that’s ‘ice-cold’ for 20+ years.
Why bother to analyze statistic’s if you have no idea what’s involved? Oh yeah, they’re Republicans, tryin’ to prove a lyin’ point!.
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There are hundreds of people like her in Washington, most of them conservative, living well-compensated lives of pure ideological hackery.
Y’know, I’m trying to remember when the Republican’ts got their panties in a bunch about Republican’t districts getting more gubmint money during the time when the Illegally Installed Drunken Cokeheaded Deserter was illegally occupying the white house for eight years.
Funny how arrogant Republican’t traitors only get upset when the scary black man does something they don’t like (like, say, getting elected to the presidency by the largest majority since Ray-Gun). I hope they’re ready when armed liberals start making these kinds of noises the next time Republican’ts steal an election…