North Dakota Is Not Greece

Many of you have been sending me this CNBC article by Mark Fahey this morning, and you can stop now. Because it’s a dumb article.

It supposedly sets out to determine which state is most like Greece, which is a stupid premise to begin with because Greece’s relationship to the European Union is not really comparable to North Dakota or any other U.S. state’s relationship to the federal government. It’s just not the same thing.

But then things get even dumber when compares national debts for nations in the EU with federal spending in U.S. states. Because debt and spending are the same thing, I guess?

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#000000″ txt_color=”#ffffff”]Fahey comparing Greece’s relationship to the European Union to North Dakota’s relationship with the United States is silly.[/mks_pullquote]

“[North Dakota] received nearly 71 percent of its entire GDP in federal funding on average over the past four years—and almost $50 billion more than the state contributed in taxes last year, according to the Internal Revenue Service,” writes Fahey.

“That probably feels like a bad deal for nearby Minnesota and Kansas, which together paid about that amount more in taxes than they received—around 13 percent of their GDPs,” he continues, apparently unaware of where Kansas is on the map (here’s a hint: it’s not near North Dakota).

Fahey comparing Greece’s relationship to the European Union to North Dakota’s relationship with the United States is silly. Greece created a mount of debt for itself and has been leaning on the European Union for bailouts.

North Dakota, on the other hand, is home to a very strong economy and very little debt relative to our GDP. Sure there’s a lot of federal spending which takes place in North Dakota. Farmers get a lot of subsidies, and North Dakota is one of just two state where the most common job is farming.

I’m not defending it; I’m just pointing out that federal spending in our state is not the same thing as debt. Fahey may as well be comparing apples to skyscrapers. In order for North Dakota to be Greece our state would have to have unpayable levels of debt, and run-away social spending, requiring other states (through the federal government) to pay our bills. That’s simply not happening.

I’m honestly curious why Fahey compared federal spending in the states to the debt of EU countries. There is data available for debt in the states, which you can view here.

By that measure, North Dakota ranks in the bottom ten for debt (including unfunded liabilities like pensions) as a percentage of gross state product.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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