Where do people get these figures?

I just spent about 30 minutes trying to do the state and local component of yesterday’s post. It’s a hopeless mess. There’s state, county, and city budgets. The school district has a separate budget. The state gets money from the feds, and the city and county get money from the states. Plus there’s plenty of money that all these groups take in in the form of fees rather than taxes — the state collects college tuition, local governments get money for water, sewer, fines, leases, permits, and on and on. Trying to make sense of it all, to see how “skewed” the overall budget is toward or away from poor people is an absolute nightmare.

One thing is certain, though — the original commenter on Drum’s web site is pulling her/his numbers out of thin air.

A few generalizations I can make, without getting into specific figures. Most of the money the state spends is on education. Most local money goes into salaries, and most salaries are for police/fire (education is separate from this). So the idea that the rich are singlehandedly paying for the poor’s welfare state is utter nonsense. Remember, education money goes disproportionately to rich school districts, and it’s the rich who benefit most from police and fire protection.

Doing the math for local budgets at the level I did yesterday, however, is a no go. Believe it or not, I do have a life.

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