Friday, June 20, 2014

The Legacy of Historical Southern U.S. Culture

Poverty Rates Are Highest in the South of the USA

Source: Huffington Post
An article in Salon points out that:

  • "every red state in a 2,500-mile stretch from Arizona to South Carolina along the southern tier had the highest poverty rates in the U.S. in 2011, between 17.9 and 22.8 percent."
  • "As you would expect, the vast majority of people falling under the poverty line in the poorest states do not have white faces—although there are poor whites.......In the poorest states, whites account for 15 percent to 20 percent of the poor."
  • "Five states have no state minumum wage, meaning that the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour and $2.13 for tipped workers is the standard. While other states have raised these floors, that’s not so for Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and South Carolina. These states also are hostile to organized labor, like the entire South. The result is the 10 states with the lowest average household incomes are mostly southern. Starting at rock bottom, they are Mississippi, Arkansas, West Virginia, Alabama, Kentucky, New Mexico, Tennessee, Louisiana, South Carolina and Oklahoma."
  • "the South was where children born into poor homes were least likely to climb the economic ladder. The region’s businesses and business models overwhelmingly rely on low-wage work."
  • "According to the Kaiser Foundation, per capita expenditures by states in 2011 averaged $5,385. At the very bottom were Nevada ($3,150), Florida ($3,482), Missouri ($3,858), Texas ($3,796), Georgia ($4,176), Idaho ($4,212), Alabama ($4,398), Tennessee ($4,743), and South Carolina ($4,797). Three Deep South states—Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana—spend more than the national average, as did West Virginia."
  • "When it comes to helping low-income households get access to healthcare, almost all red states, including most of the Deep South, have refused to do this under Obamacare."
  • "The Deep South has the country’s highest obesity rates, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The region has the most cigarette smokers. It has the highest teen birth rates. Now, other areas of the country take the trophy for other vices. But .........according to Gallup, the pollsters, the states with the most unhappy people are in that Deep South-Midwest swath: Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia."
  • "The 10 states with the most gun violence, based on federal statistics, are, in descending order, Louisiana, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Mississippi, South Carolina, New Mexico, Missouri, Arkansas and Georgia."
The deep south was the home of plantation agriculture in colonial times, and slave owning plantation owners dominated southern politics in the beginning of the 19th century. They were willing to take the region into Civil War in the 1860s rather than face the likely gradual ending of slavery, and that war decimated the region. With the emancipation of slaves, the KKK was created in the South and Jim Crow policies and laws were imposed to deny blacks their rights. White conservatives (calling themselves Democrats from the Civil War to the Civil Rights epoch, and thereafter calling themselves Republicans) continued to hold power in the South, and they continued to espouse policies that would disadvantage the poor, who were very disproportionately non-white.

Guess what that does to the overall productivity of the country. Guess what it does to the rate of innovation in the USA, and thus to our international competitiveness which depends on our innovation and our high quality workforce. For those of you readers of this blog who will expect to retire after 2035 and live until 2060, guess how much this will endanger the quality of your future lives.

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