Looking for upward mobility? Don't look to Dixie. Little Rock ranks low | Arkansas Blog

Looking for upward mobility? Don't look to Dixie. Little Rock ranks low


  • PhotosbyAndy via Shutterstock
  • THE WAR IN DIXIE: Now it's against the poor.
Norma Bates directs my attention to Salon and a fine article on income inequality.

More specifically, it focuses on how income inequality disproportionately afflicts Southern states. The article, which originally appeared on AlterNet, begins:

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 three of the bottom 21 cities are in Old Dixie. 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.

In other words: virtually all of this nation’s class-rigidity still remains in the U.S. South, even after the Civil War. 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.

Class bigotry in the South? Next you'll tell me rich people don't want their kids going to school with poor kids.

Now closer to home. Here's the ranking discussed in the article. You'll find Little Rock way down in the lower reaches, 17 from the bottom of 100 cities in terms of chances of poor people moving up. The odds of moving out of the bottom fifth are about twice as high in Salt Lake City, number one on the list. Memphis is at the absolute bottom, by the way, so don't think a jump over the Mississippi is a cure. We do outpoint Detroit.

But be sure, if the Little Rock City Board will only keep giving still more money to the chamber of commerce and private developers in direct cash handouts and other favors, we'll turn that around. Won't we?

The article endeavors to explain the poor showing in the South and finds politics at the root.

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 about democracy. Government became subordinated to economics—not just any economics, but “free market” economics, whereas economics had virtually nothing to do with the U.S. Constitution, which was instead concerned with political matters: government.

The South, with a few pockets of resistance, has become solid Republican.  The results are obvious.

The popular myth has always been promulgated by Republicans that Democratic politicians engage in class-warfare against the middle-class, on behalf of the poor; but that’s just a blatant lie, whose purpose is to hide the very real class-war, by Republicans, against the middle-class, which is being waged successfully on behalf of the rich—the exact opposite of Republican claims.

See U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton's voting record and campaign promises for this warfare in action.

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