Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Deadly Conservative Ideology Strangling Red States

I stumbled across an interesting fact recently. The Reddest states (those states most reliable for the GOP) also have the lowest life expectancy. So, for example, the thirteen worst states for life expectancy (in order: Mississippi, West Virginia, Kentucky, Alabama, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina, Texas, South Carolina and Missouri) all went for Mitt Romney in the last presidential election and have been virtually all Red for 17 years and counting. (See Meanwhile, the Bluest states have the longest life expectancy. Every one of the top eight states in life expectancy (Hawaii, Connecticut, Minnesota, Florida, Colorado, Vermont, New Hampshire and Washington) went for President Obama. The differences in life expectancy among the states is not trifling. Hawaii's life expectancy exceeds Mississippi's by 6.3 years. The only conclusion is that not only is conservative ideology a failure, but conservatives are killing themselves in pursuit of some twisted laissez faire fantasy.
Of course, quality of life matters, too. The Measure of America project is a non-partisan, non-profit initiative that addresses human development issues in the US. They created the American Human Development Index. The index (HDI) is expressed as a number from 0 to 10, and measures the three basic dimensions of well-being--longevity, access to knowledge, and standard of living. The HDI is calculated from official U.S. government mortality data to measure longevity, a combination of educational attainment and school enrollment to measure knowledge, and median personal earnings to measure standard of living. The top 18 states in HDI all voted for Obama, as did 21 of the top 25. All of the bottom 10 (and 15 of the bottom 16) voted for Romney.  In education, the six states with the lowest level of high school graduation all went for Romney; and, every state with more than 14 percent of its citizens holding graduate degrees went for Obama. That can only be termed a real landslide.

Additionally, as shown in this post from The Economist, the Blue States massively subsidize the Red States. Over a twenty year period, 1990 to 2009, the states with the heaviest surplus (meaning they paid into the federal coffers more than they took in federal benefits) were all stalwart Blue States. In order they are: Delaware, Minnesota, New Jersey, Illinois, Connecticut and New York. Five of the bottom six deficit states are Red State bastions. The map at left depicts the reality of massive fiscal transfers from the Bluest States to the Reddest States. Without this support from the Blue States, life in the Red States would likely be quite wretched. Certainly, without billions flowing annually from the most productive (Blue) states to the fiscal drag states (mostly but not all Red), life expectancy, educational attainment and income would drop.

More broadly, conservative economic ideology of less government and more laissez faire policies delivers inferior outputs for people in terms of objective measures of well-being. Sound regulation, investment in human and other infrastructure, and economic empowerment work--and that requires a robust government.

Of course, this in no way vindicates the current wrongheaded Democratic indulgence of the megabanks under federal law which I have written about again and again.

One view of the GOP and Democratic approaches is this: both parties coddle the most powerful, particularly at the apex of our system, but the Democrats at least pursue some degree of broader empowerment consistent with higher HDI scores in states they dominate the most. Meanwhile, the GOP, very much like the Democrats, neglect props to economic growth to the maximum extent they can, given the political context in the states they dominate the most. A perfect two party system in an era of soaring inequality as depicted below--it serves the interests of a small cadre of uber elites first and foremost. After all, only the very wealthy can bank roll campaigns, offer politicians windfall compensation for mega-millions, or dole out hot stock tips.

The only way out of our continued swoon is for a new cultural norm to emerge that would cause voters to aggressively vote against those that serve the most powerful and to aggressively support leaders that are proven to be the strongest champions of the dis-empowered. Then American prosperity can return to levels of decades past and the era of Lawless Capitalism can end.


  1. Well what a crock of crap! The reason the red states don't bleed money into your idiotic tax system that is "stolen" by government thieves and people with your views is because people in the red states seek and have found liberty from this monstrosity called "taxes on income" and do not willingly go along with that theft! The underground economy in those states you look down your snooty nose at is only for those who choose to be free and work to support their families without a government hand-out that you think is so great! The "hand-out is stolen from those that work! It is called FREEDOM! And FREE people do NOT need or support ANYONE telling them what to do! ADULTS do not tell other ADULTS what to do! People like you and all other busy body know it all's in govt. are doomed to failure because you cannot function on your own! YOU NEED GOVT! WE DO NOT!

    New South Battles Old Poverty as Right-to-Work Promises Fade

  3. Oh please! The lower life expectancy can be attributed to the culture of most southern states. This is a free country and people still get to choose how they love their lives. It has nothing to do with politics. How about you post some charts about how much lower the debt is in these "conservative states" or how people in conservative states give more to charities and other good causes! Liberals just keep raising taxes to fund "utoptia" projects that always fail. People aren't leaving liberal states for conservative ones in droves for nothing! As an African American I can tell you that I've seen the welfare state destroy many black families by removing the father from the familial unit.

  4. This appears to me to be a bit of a stretch, to connect how people vote with their life expectancy. That is just two things that happen to correlate there is no reason for the two things to be connected.

  5. I could have sworn this was supposed to be the corporate justice blog...since when is this website nothing more than a mouthpiece for the Democratic party? You should take this article down... it's nothing more than an attempt to bash conservatives.