If you had to guess which American states currently enjoy long-run projections of fiscal solvency and which do not, the answer you give probably depends on what you think of the chasm between red state and blue state governance; particularly of their competing approaches to budgets and balance sheets. If you’re a sane person with a modicum of economic comprehension, you are likely to know the right answer (the red states are more solvent), whereas a progressive is sure to proclaim with the same certainty as Harold Camping predicting the apocalypse that the blue states are the winners.
One of the unfortunate drawbacks of the digital revolution is the way it created fast tracks to confirmation bias. With seemingly all the information at our fingertips, it’s increasingly easy to find support on the web for one’s pre-existing biases, in the form of a snappy infographic, statistic or article. I’m sure I am guilty of this myself on occasion. On matters from the minimum wage to energy to Keynesian multipliers, policy debates in the 21st century that should be “winnable” are instead given to endless harangues by both sides as the crux of the issue at hand gets distorted to the point of incoherence. Like ships passing in the night, points and counterpoints are hurled into the dark like aimless projectiles from blind cannons. No one trusts anything that emanates from the enemy.
Of course I blame the left for most, if not all of this. For it is our leftist friends who adhere to the relatavist dogma that says truth is essentially nothing more than a social construct. In other words, truth is whatever society deems it to be. The entire field of macroeconomics can be boiled down as an exercise in giving fanciful collectivism a scientific veneer. A modern political philosophy that scorns individualism and exalts egalitarianism is going to need a shiny veneer if it’s to attract converts, given history’s rather convincing verdict on the matter. Because nearly every consequential epoch of human history since the Middle Ages was premised on the primacy of the individual over that of the Church or the State, it’s a bold endeavor to preach egalitarianism to Americans. The notion that fairness is paramount to our national conscience is apt if we’re talking about opportunity. It is anathema to the free society however, if we’re talking about outcome. And yet progressives really are interested in equal outcomes, much as they know they can’t get away espousing as much in such blatantly socialist language. So the trick is to muddy the waters, cloud the issue, fog the lens. The trick is to erect an army of fact checkers, truth police and Vox Medias in order to keep the ambitious young stenographers active and engaged. This way no sound economic takedown of exhausted Keynesianism can be allowed to stand without some minion somewhere penning a brave defense of bureaucracy and having it picked up by HuffPo and distributed through media channels as DNC talking points.
So it is with that long-winded introduction that I offer this banal piece of data on state budget solvency, from Real Clear Politics. This is funny because even I would not have guessed that the results drew as clear a distinction between red state and blue as these rankings show. The fact that states with smaller governments and fewer impediments to market entry and participation have brighter fiscal outlooks and rosier balance sheets than those of those benevolent blue staters who just want to do right by the poor and downtrodden should come as a shock to no one. But it is still jarring to see such comprehensive success and failure at the front and back ends of the list bifurcated so as to be so ideologically distinguishable. So without further ado, the five most solvent states followed by the five least solvent.
2. South Dakota
3. North Dakota
50. New Jersey
In case you are still under the misapprehension that large public sector workforces financed by high taxation and regulation are the way to go, all one need look to is domestic migration patterns in the U.S. and try to come away with any conclusion other than blue state policies amount to a pathway to citizens shipping out.