Do Big Governments Make for Small People?

That’s what John Boehner said last night. Ezra Klein brings the fact-check:

“You know,” Speaker John Boehner said last night, “I’ve always believed the bigger the government, the smaller the people.” That led Jonathan Cohn to tweet that the “Netherlands has 45% GDP from gov’tM spending and the world’s tallest people.”

What I’ve always believed is that the more data on your scatterplot, the better your chances of seeing a relationship. So I asked Dylan Matthews to work up a chart. He took the data from Wikipedia’s tablelisting the average male height in more than 60 countries and plotted each country’s height against the percent of GDP it collects in taxes. The result? A weakly, but noticeably, positive relationship between the size of government and the size of people. Bigger governments, in other words, mean bigger people.

So at least some good came out of the evening.

If you want something more serious, here’s the fact-check — already widely distributed before Boehner’s talk — on his assertion that the debt is an Obama product:

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