Brevity has never been my strong suit. So if you want to know what the below post is about, but do not want to read a couple thousand words, it’s this:
The famous donor/beneficiary map, which purports to show that residents of red states are the beneficiaries of government largess, is a gross oversimplification. It acts as though government were a matter of taking checks from one state and then giving it to another. It overlooks that much of the “extra” spending in (for instance) rural western states is on the wide assortment of properties that the federal government owns, on Indian Reservations, and so on. These things are not spent for the benefit of all of the residents of their state, but rather for a select few, sometimes for services rendered (such as the military), and on things that are aimed to benefit not just residents of that specific state but of the nation as a whole (such as national parks and Interstates).