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Economic Opportunity Is Lowest In the Former Slave States

By       Message Eric Zuesse       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink

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Class-Rigidity Is Extreme In the Republican Bible-Belt Heartland, The First Geographic Study of Class-Rigidity in the U.S. Finds.

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The website  Equality-Of-Opportunity.org was established this year by four leading economists from Harvard and Berkeley, and it now headlines their major findings, "Mobility in the 100 Largest Commuting Zones." It ranks all 100 largest U.S. cities for the chances of a person born poor to rise from the bottom 20% to the top 20%.

Whereas all of the top 21 cities (NYC being ranked #21) are shown clustered there closely around 10% for the given place's odds that a resident born in the bottom 20% will rise into the top 20%, all except just 3 of the bottom 21 cities are in Old Dixie; and, here, the probabilities of rising from the bottom 20% to the top 20% range widely, between just 6.7% (one-third less than in the best locales) down to merely 2.6% (around one-quarter of the probability in the best locales), among these 21 bottom-ranked cities. 

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In other words: virtually all of this nation's class-rigidity still remains in the U.S. South, even after the Civil War. So: New Dixie has replaced the aristocracy's black slaves of Old Dixie, by the local (white) aristocracy's institutionalized bigotry against poor people, now of all ethnic groups. What used to be their purely racist bigotry has, it seems, devolved into a crushing, pervasive, classist, bigotry in the South. 

Explaining this would produce controversy, and unfortunately the researchers don't even try. However, it is a striking finding, which demands an explanation.

For a century after Abraham Lincoln was shot in 1865, the North's Protestant aristocracy increasingly supported the Republican Party, which gradually became, in a sense, the new version of the old aristocratic Southern Democratic Party, but now spread nationwide: oriented more toward concerns about the "free market," than toward concerns about democracy. Government became subordinated to economics -- and not just to any economics, but to "free market" economics, whereas economics had virtually nothing to do with the U.S. Constitution, which was instead concerned with political matters: government.

With the advent of Democratic President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and his "New Deal" reforms and regulations during the Great Depression, and his starting of the Social Security system, this aristocratic hostility towards the Democratic Party intensified even more. Thus, in FDR's re-nomination acceptance speech in 1936, he said, "Economic royalists complain that we seek to overthrow the institutions of America. What they really complain of is that we seek to take away their power. Our allegiance to American institutions requires the overthrow of this kind of power. In vain they seek to hide behind the flag and the Constitution." This was a speech that could be given today.

Then, as if to add insult to Protestant aristocratic outrage, the Catholic Democratic President John F. Kennedy finally committed the Democratic Party against the unquestionably bigoted South; and, next, the remarkably progressive Democratic Texan President Lyndon Baines Johnson fatefully sealed this FDR-type Democratic Party, with the Civil Rights Acts, and also Medicare and Medicaid -- all done so as to serve mainly the very same people, the middle class and the poor, whom aristocrats traditionally have wanted instead to be suppressed, if not again enslaved (such as was the case in the Old South). For example, labor unions are routinely suppressed by aristocrats, because such unions challenge "the free market" -- they challenge aristocrats' hired managers, who no longer possess unrestrained control when a labor union is present. 

Aristocrats call this "free market" of theirs simply "freedom," meaning actually their own freedom, but also meaning (though never mentioning) the "freedom" of millions of have-nots to suffer unto their graves (via such class-rigidity as prevails especially in the South, and in underdeveloped countries around the world). These financial elite also sometimes call this "free-market" economics "tough love." But no matter what the rationalization -- whether "freedom," or else perhaps "discipline," or even just "order" -- its result for its victims is basically like the Mafia's kiss of death; this is more that type of "love," even when the proponents themselves actually sincerely believe it to be some sort of "love," for the people who are actually suffering from this one-sided "freedom" of the aristocracy.

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Republicans are proud of this "freedom," or "discipline," or "tough love": they even sometimes call it "the opportunity society." That's what pervades the South -- the very same region of this country where economic opportunity is actually the very lowest.

However, apparently enough Americans support this Orwellian operation, so that Republicans constitute a major Party, which even includes some of the very same people who suffer from it. This is the only way to explain the continued existence of the Republican Party as being a major political party in the U.S.

Nonetheless, unfortunately, this does not mean that today's Democratic Party is actually in favor of the poor -- the Democratic Party of today just doesn't hate them as Republicans do. The clearest evidence that this is the case came in a different study:

Princeton's Larry M. Bartels posted to the internet in 2002, updated in August 2005, his article,  "Economic Inequality and Political Representation,"  which examined the votes of U.S. Senators on eight bills; and he found that, "Republicans were about twice as responsive as Democrats to the views of high-income constituents," but that, "There is no evidence of any responsiveness [of Senators] to the views of constituents in the bottom third of the income distribution, even from Democrats." Furthermore, "For Republican senators there is no evidence of responsiveness to middle-income constituents," but only to the views of high-income constituents, and, "Democrats seem to have responded at least as strongly to the views of middle-income constituents as to the views of high-income constituents -- though, once again, there is no evidence of any responsiveness to the views of low-income constituents."

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Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They're Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010,  and of  CHRIST'S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that (more...)

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