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Mar 07 2014

Southern state woes

We all know that the central and southern states are where the real, god-fearing ‘Merkins live, those who uphold the good old-fashioned virtues of independence and hard work, unlike the heathens in the rest of the country with their lazy and hedonistic values.

But Emily Cohn has put together nine maps of the US that show various indicators of income and quality of life. It turns out that the southern states are paying a high price for being able to think of themselves as living the way that god intended.

The southern states are those in which:

  • poverty rates are a lot higher

  • minimum wages are much lower
  • people are a lot less likely to move up the economic ladder
  • there are higher rates of obesity and cigarette smokers and teen births
  • people are being denied access to affordable health care by rejecting Medicaid expansion which in turn is costing them a lot of money.

But the real clincher is the graph that shows that the southern states are also the least happy.

14 comments

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  1. 1
    raven

    Yeah, in any list of The Ten worst states for (fill in the blank), the fundie xian states of the south and central USA are usually on there. Here is one below about social mobility.

    http ://www.huffingtonpost. com/2014/01/23/american-dream-dead_n_4651337.html deleted for length reasons

    Where The American Dream Is Dead And Buried

    If you dream of one day pulling yourself up by your bootstraps to become the next Bill Gates, there are some places in America where it’s somewhat easier to do that than others, a new study reveals.

    Cities in the South and the Rust Belt have extremely low levels of economic mobility – a wonky term that essentially measures one’s ability to go from being poor to rich — according to a study from economists at Harvard University and the University of California-Berkeley.
    delete
    So what is it that stifles economic mobility? The researchers found that areas with higher levels of segregation, income inequality and more single parents tend to have worse prospects for mobility. In addition, regions with fewer social networks and poorer school systems are typically worse off. delete

  2. 2
    Leo Buzalsky

    Ah, but I’m sure it’s all the fault of the lazy blacks and latin@s. Certainly these problems aren’t the same for the hardworking, white Southern real ‘Murkins!

  3. 3
    left0ver1under

    Those states are also among the worst for sex education, teen pregnancy, and STD transmission, in which people marry at the youngest ages and have the highest rates of divorce.

    It’s not just that people in those states are likely to be denied health care, many of those states voted against it. They keep acting and voting against their interests, all in the name of ideological and religious “purity”. It’s almost as if they’d rather continue to hurt themselves than admit they were wrong, a warped sense of pride.

  4. 4
    Gregory in Seattle

    It becomes a vicious cycle: people who are locked in poverty and poor education turn to the simplistic answers and false comforts offered by religion and populist politicians; that, in turn, locks them even tighter into poverty and poor education, which causes them to become even more fanatical — desperate, really — to believe in the simplistic answers and false comforts.

    I’m not sure such a cycle can be broken, much less how to break it.

  5. 5
    Brent

    This is another example of fundamentalist thought in action, and suggests that what passes for conservatism these days is little more than a fundamentalist cult.

    Fundamentalist thought is based on sheer insanity: when what you’re doing doesn’t work, do more of it.

    That’s clearly what the South is doing with denial of medical care to citizens, cutting taxes for the rich, cutting social welfare programs, and living in medieval times with respect to sex education.

    Kentucky’s poverty is a function of geography and natural resources as much as anything else, with difficulty getting manufacturing goods in and out of the small towns in the Appalachians, and farming has never been that easy due to the terrain and soil. Solution: cut taxes for the rich even more and sit back and wait for the jobs to roll in!

  6. 6
    Gregory in Seattle

    Oh, and there is another map that will surprise absolutely no one: the South also has very high per capita HIV infection rates. Rural counties like Sunflower (712 per 100,000 population) and Coahoma (748 per 100,000) in Mississippi, or Barnwell (700 per 100,000) in South Carolina, or Haywood (574 per 100,000) in Tennessee, or Jones (954 per 100,000) in Texas, have higher HIV rates than even Los Angeles County (513 per 100,000.)

    Of the 50,000 or so new cases of HIV reported in the US every year, almost half are in the southeastern part of the country, particularly in Florida, Louisiana, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Mississippi, Tennessee and Maryland. Studies that have looked at possible causes all come back around to poverty, a hostile culture that strongly dissuades any conversation about safer sex practices and discourages education. It has also been noted that rural counties with very high infection rates usually have large prison populations.

  7. 7
    Pierce R. Butler

    Only a damn Yankee would need to do a Big Study to figger that out!

  8. 8
    Matt G

    Who cares about happiness when you have righteous indignation and feelings of persecution!

  9. 9
    Chiroptera

    I’m guessing that red state conservatives just blame all this on the blue state liberals conspiring to hold them all down.

  10. 10
    Brony

    One of the biggest problems it seems to me is that folks in these authoritarian communities/states/whatever are less exposed to information like this. The only real way to fix problems like this is to get information to them, or at least try to. Maybe some billionaire can fund door to door communication efforts, or setting up tables in communities or other things.

    Sure many will reject it but there are not a lot of ways that this can play out. Either people make an effort to interact with them more using the best ways possible to get information across. Or they stay concentrated in an ignorance bubble and fight with the rest of the electorate/society on a group/group basis. Sure some of them will have family that is willing to challenge them on these things, but there have to be other channels that can be used as well.

  11. 11
    Pteryxx

    One of the biggest problems it seems to me is that folks in these authoritarian communities/states/whatever are less exposed to information like this. The only real way to fix problems like this is to get information to them, or at least try to.

    Well, yeah, but note the South is also heavily infested with religious charter school and homeschooling schemes (ACE HQ is in Texas ferchrissakes) not to mention Christian-influenced public schools, Christian right-wing radio stations outnumbering NPR ten to one, Fox News constantly playing on televisions in every restaurant and doctor’s office and waiting room… and most rural areas don’t have access to high-speed internet except 25 minutes at a time through underfunded, monitored, and filtered public libraries. The entire information infrastructure is geared to systemically choke off reality-based information while flooding every community with right-wing nonsense. Most folks here aren’t exposed to more liberal viewpoints unless and until they go to a big city university; and how likely is that nowadays with skyrocketing tuitions, degree inflation and student debt? Seriously, try listening to Fox News or American Family Radio for a day (you can stream them) and imagine being unable to turn it off or search the internet for real information, while your textbooks look like this and this. This is what we’re up against. (Yes I rant; I have to LIVE here.)

  12. 12
    Brony

    @Pteryxx
    While Austin is not quite like the rest of Texas, I’m here too so I get the flavor. I can understand the rant and I say rant away.

    Well, yeah, but note the South is also heavily infested with religious charter school and homeschooling schemes (ACE HQ is in Texas ferchrissakes) not to mention Christian-influenced public schools, Christian right-wing radio stations outnumbering NPR ten to one, Fox News constantly playing on televisions in every restaurant and doctor’s office and waiting room… and most rural areas don’t have access to high-speed internet except 25 minutes at a time through underfunded, monitored, and filtered public libraries.
    So that is the difficulty level. They are the current social masters of the simple emotional words spoken quickly and without effort, because it takes little mental effort. So yeah they do have all those radio stations and such.

    But we have advantages of our own such as the psychology of the times and the authoritarian mindset which in its simplicity is more predictable. For one the very presence of such groups (especially if focused in a way that would let them give a simple name to complain about) would become a social flash point. They would feel compelled to pay attention. Sure some would stay away and characterize and warn the rest to stay away, but the Streisand effect exists for a reason. Enough would come out of curiosity, for nothing else but to assess the threat for themselves. The point is to get enough information out to local communities so that family members and more do the rest for us. We crack the social shell.

    The entire information infrastructure is geared to systemically choke off reality-based information while flooding every community with right-wing nonsense. Most folks here aren’t exposed to more liberal viewpoints unless and until they go to a big city university; and how likely is that nowadays with skyrocketing tuitions, degree inflation and student debt?
    So the idea is to go to them. Turn the tables on them and evangelize with reality. Go to the parks, set tables up across the streets from the churches. What it needs is funding and organization. The rest is using their nature against them.

    Seriously, try listening to Fox News or American Family Radio for a day (you can stream them) and imagine being unable to turn it off or search the internet for real information, while your textbooks look like this and this. This is what we’re up against. (Yes I rant; I have to LIVE here.)
    The Facebook pages of my family are all I need to know to be on the same page as you. All the simple image macros with the paranoia about Obama and government, all the simple statements about abortion and a hundred other complicated issues reduced to black and white babble. And especially the constant unanswered questions about why they believe what they believe. They can’t really defend themselves, so in ways we need to go on the attack.

  13. 13
    Pteryxx

    Brony: okay, corrected to *y’all should listen to some of this radio, because I didn’t mean you specifically. But I wish some of the folks tut-tutting about the South would come down here and help, instead of (as often happens) telling the reality-based folks to move out. Teachers that speak up lose their jobs; the local Darwin Day organizers have to alert security to keep (some of) their signs and materials from being torn down. I tried to organize a couple of demonstrations, like you suggest, and the other folks told me they’d tried – but had to quit because of the danger from people driving them off the sidewalk with their trucks.

    So the idea is to go to them. Turn the tables on them and evangelize with reality. Go to the parks, set tables up across the streets from the churches. What it needs is funding and organization.

    Go right ahead; I’ve tried and I’m glad to keep having these conversations in a truck-free environment. But we’re also dealing with permit-granting agencies, police and security, and media coverage that will all be slanted by the right-wing propaganda flooded environment, backed by all the funding that goes into everything from homeschooling ‘insurance’ to corporations against civic internet. It’s not just random citizens coming to debate at your folding table… probably not even in Austin, I’d guess.

    IMHO it’d take something like this:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_Schools

    and a few of us will probably get shot and arrested in the process, so there had better be a legal defense infrastructure in place, too. Just so my view comes across clearly here.

  14. 14
    Brony

    But I wish some of the folks tut-tutting about the South would come down here and help, instead of (as often happens) telling the reality-based folks to move out.
    I get that. I guess that is why I am thinking about it this way. This is a national level problem and it need a BIG effort. We have two alternatives (with something of a spectrum in between them). We collectively find a way to bring the social challenge to them in terms of actually offering our side of the reality based info story where it is hard to avoid, but still legal to be there (setting up a table across the street from a church should be possible somehow). Or the country separates into various little factions with some on board with the way things are, and the others very very paranoid and getting crazier and crazier as they drift farther into delusion land. Maybe I’m over worried and the internet will eat at them through their children, but I’m kind of impatient.

    Teachers that speak up lose their jobs; the local Darwin Day organizers have to alert security to keep (some of) their signs and materials from being torn down. I tried to organize a couple of demonstrations, like you suggest, and the other folks told me they’d tried – but had to quit because of the danger from people driving them off the sidewalk with their trucks.

    I tried the teacher thing myself so I know how hard it can be. I had to give that one up because I can’t take the social environment.

    As for the rest of it, what about having a film person standing by? That is criminal activity. Sure they are more willing to “protect their own” in terms of local police BS, but that is one reason why I wish there was someone to bankroll a larger effort. You would need to get a significant group together for mutual security with cameras in evidence (and good explanations for why it’s rational for them to be there). Be honest and willing to talk nicely without a protest-style atmosphere, but be prepared for ugly.

    Go right ahead; I’ve tried and I’m glad to keep having these conversations in a truck-free environment. But we’re also dealing with permit-granting agencies, police and security, and media coverage that will all be slanted by the right-wing propaganda flooded environment, backed by all the funding that goes into everything from homeschooling ‘insurance’ to corporations against civic internet. It’s not just random citizens coming to debate at your folding table… probably not even in Austin, I’d guess.

    Well that again is why I talked about backing and organization. One would have to be prepared for something fierce in resistance. But the presentation would be the way some of them describe the Gideons handing out Bibles in a school (it’s just there if you want to see it!). Except constitutional and across the street. Nice, honest, open, friendly, and ready to document the hell out of any paranoid reactions.

    The permit granting agencies have to let it happen eventually. A public sidewalk or other space is a public space. The police already have to provide security for the freaking Klan when they want to do their thing. That is also settled law. Media coverage can be planned for in advance. There are tons of ways of displaying the cowardice of a bunch of folks that can’t take a discussion and information in a rhetorical manner appropriate for the media (What is everyone worried about? It’s just the facts. If we are wrong come by and tell us why!). And we are already dealing with the propaganda machine. It’s nothing new and the reason I’m proposing something like this to begin with.

    Let me clarify one thing though. I’m not thinking of schools at all. That would have to be dealt with as folks already are, or hope for a changing culture. I’m thinking of public spaces with times chosen to make visibility likely such as across the street from churches on Sunday with no protest atmosphere. What they push pervades our culture after all. Fair is fair.

    I think the psychology of it is rational. Some of them would get curious and check it out to see what the fuss was about. Headstrong ones would want to debate. Paranoid ones would do some of the word of mouth for us. It’s not like we have a good reputation in their communities already so the word of mouth would not get any worse than we are used to, but it would let them know that we were there and the challenge of our presence would be obvious no matter how polite we were. The problem is money and organization.

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