Smarten up – politically and fiscally – with State Smart!


A little learning is a dangerous thing.
 Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian Spring;
 There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
 and drinking largely sobers us again. -Alexander Pope

Election season does foster serious data ennui – numbers too astronomical, too fuzzy, too manipulated for mere mortals to get a grip.

One does at times seek refuge in ignorance

Still, a handy tool for navigating the data tsunami has just been launched by the National Priorities Project. It offers the rudderless voter a way to navigate the flow; it even comes complete with simple – but highly informative – graphics.

It’s State Smart (, billed as “your comprehensive source for tracking how federal funds impact all fifty states and the District of Columbia.”

From the comfort of your favorite coffee shop you can track the flow of federal funds from the Beltway to the banks of the Mississippi – spending on government personnel, contracts, aid to individuals through federal programs, e.g. Medicare – and more. And the flow goes both ways, you can also track how much Minnesota individuals and businesses are paying in federal taxes.

Best of all, you can put things in perspective by comparing this – or any state’s – data with any other state – how much, on average, do Minnesotans received in federal benefits? What percentage of the state’s budget comes from the feds?

Amaze your friends with stunning insights such as the fact that, in 2013 the average taxpayer in Minnesota paid $11,002 in federal income taxes in 2013. That’s $713 less than the national average….

Or spend endless hours comparing, contrasting, boasting or bemoaning the state’s relative standing in terms of anything from federal contracts to school expenditures.

Or, dig deeper into the enormous depths of data that the system designers have gathered and rendered not just available, but accessible.

Whatever your interest, amuse and amaze yourself between campaign commercials with this simple but powerful resource!