The takers and the makers; is not what you probably think  An Atlantic magazine analysis has been updated in 2017 though the analysis was first done in 2014. and it concluded he red states are the takers of the blue states ‘ federal taxpayers’ money.  Per the article, “There are various ways of thinking about what a ‘state dependency’ map cited in the article tells us. One approach is to shine a light on the red-states-as takers paradox: Dominated by Republican voters who profess their distaste for the federal government and its social programs, these are the very states that rank highest on the dependency index.” This is how Business Insider, another publication,  handled the story: “As it turns out, it is red states that are overwhelmingly the Welfare Queen States. Yes, that’s right. Red States—the ones governed by folks who think the government is too big and spending needs to be cut—are a net drain on the economy, taking in more federal spending than they pay out in federal taxes. They talk a good game, but stick Blue States with the bill.”

By any measure in the articles, Colorado is a maker state, among the lowest tier of states taking federal taxpayer dollars per the data in the articles..

Why are some states takers, not makers?  Simply looking at the various maps and statistics, what pops out is that most of the taking states are red and southern. Why? The Atlantic conclusion is correct so far as it goes.  The Atlantic article did not go into any detail, but the importance of who holds political power in Congress does play an important role. The Atlantic article places the blame on  Congress members frequently re-elected from safe seats, gaining seniority, and controlling committee chairs. True. They have brought the pork to their home states.  I have some other theories of how this has happened.  More House safe seats have been carved out by rampant gerrymandering, permitting frequent re-election of incumbents and seniority in the House. In the Senate, those from safe seats rule committees and their GOP chairs often hale from the South. For example, Kentucky is in the top ten of the taker states and it is the 4th poorest state in the union.  Ironically,  Kentucky Sen. GOP Majority leader Mitch McConnell, who controls Senate majority votes and committee chairs, is not considered an ideological friend of spending of social programs or making it easier to vote.  Also from Kentucky is Sen. Rand Paul, a libertarian who generally opposes federal spending on social programs. He is much valued in a close vote so that his power and influence is sometimes greater than many GOP senators.. Governance of state governments also plays a role. Regardless of an assumed pervasiveconservative ideology of its voters, it has not kept Kentucky from being in the top ten takers. Federal government aid is welcome. New Mexico and some others ranking high on the poverty list have high native American and Hispanic populations. Many others have large African-American populations.   Often these states are governed by legislatures and governors who are white and conservative and uneager to share power. However, unlike the Federal Government states most states are required to balance their budgets.  They cannot print money or run up the deficit like the feds can. Federal aid is very helpful to balance budgets in states where the demand and need of their voters is higher, due to poverty. 

One more paradox in makers and takers comparisons is that racism is a factor, but not as the racists believe.  More white people get government assistance than any other group of minorities, including African Americans, per Lexington Law.

Food stamp recipients, in particular, are more white as a percentage than those of a minority race. Yes. That is not a per capita figure, but the perception is that mostly minorities need them. However, in cutting food stamps as the GOP constantly advocates would impact more of their voter base, as well.

Diving deeper into the issue of political control, there are some underlying factors.  The kinds of economic activity states generate may play a role. However,  with few exceptions, there is also a strong self-perpetuating connection in the South with the poverty rate of the taking states and the percentage of racial minorities, poor health care, and voter suppression. Because of poverty, their needs exceed the will and ability of their state governments to provide so they demand and need federal help.  Many of these states have not expanded Medicaid to their poorer citizens when they had the opportunity under the provisions of Obamacare, keeping the poorer sicker and more expensive to treat. Widely reported,  African Americans, Native Americans, and Hispanics have an oversized rate of being victims of Coronavirus in part due to untreated underlying health problems. Lack of African American political power in southern states is another factor.  Years of voter suppression tactics,  making it expensive and inconvenient to register and get transportation to vote, and stringent requirements for government-issued picture IDs from non-drivers,   keep minorities at a political power disadvantage in getting their part of the economic pie. 

For links to the articles cited in this column, go to