Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Grinding Poverty? In America? Mostly In Areas Controlled By Republicans


Just before the Civil War, Issaquena County, Mississippi was the second richest county in America. That's because 92.5% of the inhabitants were slaves. 115 slave owners owned everyone else. They were rich because of the value of "slave property." Today Issaquena County has the 3rd lowest per capita income of any county in America-- $18,598 compared to $48,112 for the country as a whole. It's part of Mississippi's 2nd congressional district, represented by Bennie Thompson. The county, which had given Obama a 61-38% win over Romney, voted for Hillary over Trump, 56.5% to 42.6%. At least it has a congressman who advocates for policies that help poor people. Almost none of America's other poorest counties do.

The two counties in the country worse off than Issaquena are Wheeler County, Georgia and Union County, Florida. Wheeler is named for Confederate General Joseph Wheeler, who was also a reactionary congressman from Alabama until 1900. Wheeler Co. (where the per capita income is $16,007) is part of Georgia's 12th congressional district, represented by right-wing kook Rick Allen, who was reelected in November with 61.6% of the vote. Trump won the congressional district 56.9% to 40.7%. Wheeler was even more Trump-oriented-- 67.6% to 30.7%. Allen is a knee-jerk GOP reactionary who does everything he can to make the lives of the poor folks in Wheeler County unbearable. Union County ($18,255) is the second poorest county. Part of Florida's 3rd congressional district, this backward hellhole is represented by far right nut case Ted Yoho, who is one of the most anti-working family members of Congress. He was reelected with 56.6% this past cycle and Trump took the district 56.2% to 40.2%. But Union County went for Trump in much greater numbers-- 80.2% to 17.8%.

These are the dozen poorest counties in America:
Wheeler County, GA- $16,007- Rick Allen (R)
Union County, FL- $18,255- Ted Yoho (R)
Issaquena County, MS- $!8,598- Bennie Thompson (D)
Telfair County, GA- $19,306- Austin Scott (R)
Bledsoe County, TN- $20,719- Scott DesJarlais (R)
Ziebach County, SD- $20,944- Kristi Noem (R)
Stewart County, GA- $21,677- Sanford Bishop (Blue Dog)
Elliott County, KY- $21,745- Hal Rogers (R)
Concho County, TX- $22,008- Al Green (D)
Glades County, FL- $22,121- Tom Rooney (R)
Long County, GA- $22,525- Buddy Carter (R)
Lafayette County, FL- $23,012- Ted Yoho (R)
Only two of the dozen poorest counties, Concho in Texas and Issaquena in Mississippi, are represented by congressmembers who advocate for poor people. The other 10 are represented by conservatives who are handmaidens of the wealthy and powerful.

Trump won most of these counties by overwhelming margins-- 82.9% in Concho, for example. Hillary won Issaquena and Georgia's Stewart. According to Brookings, most poor people in the United States live in a community represented by a Republican and Republican districts have more poor residents overall: 25.1 million poor people lived in red districts in 2010-14 compared with 22.7 million in blue districts.
Between 2000 and 2010-14, the poor population grew faster in red districts than blue. The number of people living below the poverty line (e.g., $24,230 for a family of four in 2014) in Republican districts climbed by 49 percent between 2000 and 2010-14 compared with a 33 percent increase in Democratic districts. As a result, Republican districts accounted for 60 percent of the increase in the nation’s poor population during that time. At the same time, poverty rates rose by similar margins in both red and blue districts (3.3 and 3.2 percentage points, respectively).
According to a new book by MIT economist Peter Temin, The Vanishing Middle Class, America is regressing to have the economic and political structure of a developing nation, as it already has in the counties listed above. Our roads and bridges, he writes look more like those in Thailand and Venezuela than those in parts of Europe.
The economist describes a two-track economy with on the one hand 20 per cent of the population that is educated and enjoys good jobs and supportive social networks.

On the other hand, the remaining 80 per cent, he said, are part of the US’ low-wage sector, where the world of possibility has shrunk and people are burdened with debts and anxious about job security.

...He found that much of the low-wage sector had little influence over public policy, the high-income sector was keeping wages down to provide cheap labour, social control was used to prevent subsistence workers from challenging existing policies and social mobility was low.

Mr Temin also claims that this dual-economy has a “racist” undertone. 

“The desire to preserve the inferior status of blacks has motivated policies against all members of the low-wage sector.

“We have a structure that predetermines winners and losers. We are not getting the benefits of all the people who could contribute to the growth of the economy, to advances in medicine or science which could improve the quality of life for everyone — including some of the rich people," he writes.

Commenting on Mr Temin’s findings, Lynn Parramore, senior research analyst at the Institute for New Economic Thinking, writes: “Without a robust middle class, America is not only reverting to developing-country status, it is increasingly ripe for serious social turmoil that has not been seen in generations.”



At 4:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

File this one away in the "DUH!" folder.

This is not only patently obvious, it's structural.

After the crash and the election of FDR in '32, a lot of reforms/controls were installed to mollify capitalism's indifferent victimization of the poor to the benefit of the rich. Initially, the government borrowed in order to create jobs for the unemployed, but far more important in the long run was the very progressive tax rates that nicked the rich to the tune of up to 92%. And for the next 48 years those reforms both prevented/disincentivized capitalists from reaming the poor AND created a large and vibrant middle class. Other things, like the GI Bill, did a lot also, but credit FDR and Democrats (and some Republicans too) with making this nation something to be proud of.

And then 1980. The sainted Reagan and his "voodoo economics" and an electorate too stupid to live and increased appeal to and cultivation of racism. Massive tax cuts for the rich (and explosion of federal debt); evil empire rhetoric; warmaking build-up; star wars; all without an enemy.

Gone were the disincentives to rape the economy and poor; capitalism reforms eroded; Labor is disempowered...

And the Democrats, who were both the creators and custodians of the middle class economic prosperity engine abandoned their principles to become servants of capitalism's principals.

And voters have been there with each and every degradation with enthusiasm and calls for more. Even D voters elected the Clintons and obamanations and were fully supportive of each and every addition to capitalism's power grab they championed and expanded. 2008 doesn't happen without Clinton's GLBA, CFMA and others, for instance.

American voters, as illustrated above, are not only increasingly suffering grinding poverty, they are grindingly stupid. They are doing this to themselves.

You can't fix stupid. And stupid never fixes itself.

At 9:18 AM, Anonymous Hone said...

Wouldn't it be wonderful if our country's priorities were switched to providing the best educational and health care systems in the world, protect our environment and our national parks, emphasize a switch from oil/gas to clean energy and put forth efforts to promote peace?

We have a lot of money and could do much of this if we have the will.

At 8:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hone, a rare note of optimism from me.

While DC is a fetid cesspool of pure corruption, evil and stupidity, it seems that states and, especially, cities, are attempting to serve the priorities you espouse... within certain bounds.

National parks, no... that's the DC purview. Also, they can only do so much with education due to the DC stink that is due to the federal money which comes with rules. And, of course, war is the arbitrary right of the unitary.

But you can google Bloomberg's current road show and book tour ("Climate of Hope") promoting what a lot of cities (and some states) are doing wrt energy/environment. Even R mayors/councils, a few anyway, are promoting good reforms in these sectors.

note: I haven't read the book so I'm not positive that he's not just shilling for more sales... so there's that. But he's noting things that actually are happening on at least a minimal scale. Though the subtitle seems wildly overoptimistic to me.

Of course, the media won't cover it because there's little potential for a cluster fuck of a scandal... and no billionaires to fellate. But it's happening.

States are legalizing MJ, making the drug war a little more sane. Some states are toying with the idea of SP health CARE. There are a few others.

Keep your chin up.

At 4:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, mostly in areas controlled by GOP and specifically, geographically and politically, ignored by HRC.

John Puma

At 7:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

More support for thesis:


Most are in the racist south and rural north Midwest. All either massively racist or ignorant or both. All are and have been for decades without any hope of any shred of an American dream without a gold or oil discovery.

Part of the "gerrymandering" that benefits the Nazis is abject structural poverty.

And, yes, the democraps clearly don't give a flying fuck about both the geography and the demographics. No campaign $$ from those.


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