Alaska, the 'welfare state'

Alaska "is essentially a welfare state taking money from the federal government," the fiercely partisan Paul Begala fumed on CNN.

Michael Kinsley, writing in Time, accuses the "good citizens of Sarah Palin's Alaska" of "leech[ing] off the government."

It's true that Alaska consistently ranks in the top three states which receive more federal dollars than they pay, and has often been the top state.

A moment's reflection might help answer why this is so. As The Economist noted back in August of 2006, before Sarah Palin became governor:

"There are some good reasons for the federal government to spend money in Alaska anyway: it supports 21,000 troops there, it has obligations to indigenous Alaskans and it owns (and must look after) some 60% of Alaska's land."

Yes, according to the US Census Bureau, 19 percent of Alaska residents are American Indians, (American Indians comprise only 1.5 percent of the population), while "Alaska Natives accounted for over 50 percent of the population in nearly all of the boroughs and census areas (county equivalents) in northern and western Alaska."

So..... ahem.... Mr. Begala? Mr. Kinsley? You have a problem with that?

Another state that consistently ranks in the top third of federal largesse is Virginia, home to the economically depressed Appalachian region.

But we don't suppose we would have heard about that if Barack Obama had selected Virginia Governor Tim Kaine as his running mate.
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