by Max Brantley
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.
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 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.