Sunday, September 14, 2008

Math, Alaska style

A few facts worth keeping in mind when the McSame campaign talks about Sarah Palin's awesomnety as governor:

With no statewide income or sales tax, Alaska funds about 90 percent of the state budget from royalties and taxes on oil producers. Soaring oil prices and a higher windfall oil profits tax - an increase pushed through by Palin, now the Republican vice presidential nominee - have state coffers overflowing with petrodollars. The Alaska oil industry calculates that its annual payments to the state doubled in a single year to $10.2 billion.

$10.2B may not sound like much compared to the $2.7 trillion national budget, or even California's $100 billion, but Alaska has fewer than 700,000 people -- roughly the population of San Francisco.

So here is how that math plays out: oil revenues alone translate into more than $14,000 per Alaskan. Now add to that the net inflow of federal spending in Alaska (for the last seven years with data, Alaska has been #1 in per capita federal largesse) of more than $8000. (Alaskans pay on average $5000 into Washington, but get back $13,000.) So that's a net of 22 large for every man, woman and child flowing into the state -- money they get for (a) having a pulse and (b) pulling the lever for "Series of Tubes" Stevens every six years.

Remember the saying about how Dubya was born on third base and thinks he hit a triple? How hard is it to govern when nearly half of the median US per capita income appears from outside the state as if by magic every year?


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