Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Gender of the Debt: Debtor Patriarchal/Maternalist States and Creditor Equal Rights/Responsibility States?

In this post, I'd like to use some data on the federal balance sheet of each state to show that "equal rights on the basis of sex" states are far more "federal budget balanced" than patriarchal (and/or maternalist) states.

The states that have some type of express "equal rights" provisions in their state constitutions are listed here.   They include AK, CA, CO, CT, FL, HI, IL, IA, LA, MD, MA, MT, NH, NM, PA, TX, UT, VA.  New Jersey is not included in this list, but it actually has a "rights of person" (in contrast to "rights of man") constitution that mirrors the US Constitution and thus is arguably both an equal rights and equal responsibility state (the US Constitution and New Jersey constitutions are not currently being interpreted this way, however).  Also, New York is not included although it basically has a "rights of person" constitution as well, although not with equal protection language like that of New Jersey.  Some of the provisions are better quality than others.  California's, for example, is only partial, covering only employment, and Iowa's is focused on "freedom" thus perhaps omitting a concept of equal responsibility.  

The states that don't have these provisions often expressly give certain rights to men, and some also give certain responsibilities to women.  One example of this is the constitution of Kansas.   Here, I am labeling these "patriarchal/maternalist states" to indicate this type of higher status assigned to men and responsibility to women, which tends to be implied with regard to children.   Whether these constitutions are lawful under the US Constitution is a question; I do not think they are, nonetheless many states, such as Kansas, are continuing to enforce such provisions and have not been challenged in this in recent years by private plaintiffs or by the United States government.

The "balance sheet" I am considering is the amount of federal benefits that state receives in (Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, Income Assistance, SNAP, Unemployment Insurance, Veterans Benefits, Education Assistance, Payments to Native Populations, etc.) relative to the federal tax dollars it pays.

The data I have from this chart does not include military spending, unfortunately.  So payments to military personnel and their families and payments to military and other contractors are not included. Also, it is data from 2010, before the ACA went into affect.

Here's the chart, from a Talking Points Memo summary:

Colorado is one of the biggest net "tax dollar exporter" states, exporting $0.22 of every federal tax dollar paid by the state.

What happens when we consider the net balance sheet of the equal rights states v. those with provisions that give special rights (or privileges to men) and assign special responsibilities to women, i.e. "patriarchal and/or maternalist" states?

The "equal rights" states have a balance sheet of $1.09, meaning that they are running a deficit of 9 percent.  (I've excluded New Jersey from this calculation but included states with partial equal rights provisions, such as CA and IA).

The "patriarchal or "maternalist" states have an aggregate balance sheet of $1.33, meaning they are running a deficit of 33 percent.

This also means that that the "equal rights" states are exporting about $0.24 of every federal tax dollar they pay to the "patriarchal/maternalist" states.

What do you think?  Is this causation or just correlation?  Please let us know in the comments.

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