Should choice belong to those who contribute the most?

When running a corporation there are various kinds of productivity measures that can be used. There are bizzare ones like return on controllable assets (ROCA), and typical ones like overall revenue, or overall profit. When judging productivity of employees and divisions, measures like revenue per division, or revenue per employee are used.

If the United States were a corporation, and we further imagine states are comparable to divisions, the most valuable states are those who have a high gross state product per person. This means that, in terms of the overall United States domestic product, these individuals are contributing more to overall wealth than are citizens in other states. Gross state product itself is interesting, but it is less a fair comparison since states having simply large numbers of people win over smaller ones.

What’s interesting is that, while there are exceptions, most of the high GSP-per-capita states voted Democratic in the recent 2016 Presidential election. In fact 70% did. These are the top 20, from the most productive per capita to the least:

Washington, DC D
Delaware D
Alaska R
North Dakota R
Connecticut D
Wyoming R
Massachusetts D
New York D
New Jersey D
Oregon D
Washington D
Virginia D
Maryland D
Texas R
Colorado D
Illinois D
California D
Nebraska R
Hawaii D
South Dakota R

It is interesting that D.C., while not a state, ranks above them all.

So, in all the explaining that Trump won because people feel left out of the discourse, there are two points to be made.

First, it’s possible that those who have influence do so because they are, in fact, more productive. There is an argument, from a capitalist mindset, that those who contribute the most to the common enterprise should indeed have the most say.

And, second, people who feel left out could choose to move to a state where they contribute and, on average, earn more. That they don’t is actually their own choice.

So, ironically, it is not that states which vote Democratic have a lock on politics at the expense of those who do not. They also contribute to the common wealth the most. Shareholders in corporations with more shares have more say. Oughtn’t voters in such states do the same?

(Figure deleted, 4 December 2016.)

Update, 2016-11-20

I added something related to this in a comment at FT today:

I also think that the “elitism” of which some Trump supporters complain is itself a myth and a mirage. A possible response, noting that a substantial chunk of the GDP of the USA comes from those states accused of being elitist, is to, for a chance, actually exert there power and influence as elites rather than trying to get along with everyone else.

If some people are going to claim they don’t want to have certain kinds of people in their states and their communities, some of those same people should understand very very clearly that their behaviors, attitudes, and expressed opinions will not be tolerated in communities and states which try to be open to all nationalities and outlooks from everywhere, whether Muslim, gay, Jewish, atheist, trans, bisexual, queer, or otherwise.

And, should there be an attempt at some kind of punitive response from the new Presidency and Congress, they need us more than we need them. We can find other customers. And they cannot replace the skills and capabilities of these “elitist” regions without, ironically, buying those skills from outside the United States. They can develop them elsewhere in the country, but that would take years and years, and could not, without diversity in origin and outlook, be successful. Just look at the makeup of any major university: MIT, Harvard, UC Berkeley, Duke, CalTech, University of Massachusetts, University of Texas, University of Chicago, and so on.

Moreover, corporations affected by such measures can work against them.

Hopefully it won’t come to that, but, as the reason for my FT comment shows, the Trump entourage has a really thin skin, and puts “winning” and it’s own image ahead of sense. They could really misfire in a big way, say, in cybersecurity.

Update, 2016-12-04


From The New York Times, 3rd December 2016.

About ecoquant

See Retired data scientist and statistician. Now working projects in quantitative ecology and, specifically, phenology of Bryophyta and technical methods for their study.
This entry was posted in capitalism, corporations, elitism, politics, United States. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Should choice belong to those who contribute the most?

  1. The New York Times wrote today on how the coasts and urban areas are the economic powerhouses of the United States and that, relatively speaking, inner urban areas are the least represented of all spatial sectors.

    Moreover, “elitist” coastal states are subsidizing rural ones.

    This brings me back to the question, Why do we continue to be so nice and understanding? If we are being criticized as being “elitist” and we do in fact have the wealth, let’s use it and send those townies packin’, guns and all. And if they threaten, cut off their stipend.

    We could start by stopping our use of their oil and natural gas.

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