Inequality Kills. Policy Drives Inequality. Elections Matter

Annie Lowrey in The New York Times today:

Fairfax is a place of the haves, and McDowell of the have-nots. Just outside of Washington, fat government contracts and a growing technology sector buoy the median household income in Fairfax County up to $107,000, one of the highest in the nation. McDowell, with the decline of coal, has little in the way of industry. Unemployment is high. Drug abuse is rampant. Median household income is about one-fifth that of Fairfax.

One of the starkest consequences of that divide is seen in the life expectancies of the people there. Residents of Fairfax County are among the longest-lived in the country: Men have an average life expectancy of 82 years and women, 85, about the same as in Sweden. In McDowell, the averages are 64 and 73, about the same as in Iraq.

There have long been stark economic differences between Fairfax County and McDowell. But as their fortunes have diverged even further over the past generation, their life expectancies have diverged, too. In McDowell, women’s life expectancy has actually fallen by two years since 1985; it grew five years in Fairfax. [Links in the original]

Albrecht_Dürer_013

Lowrey is careful to note that the causal connection between poverty and longevity (or its absence) is hard to establish, and the data are both incomplete and fraught with co- and confounding factors.  But such caution does not in the end distract her from the basic point of her reporting:

It is hard to prove causality with the available information. County-level data is the most detailed available, but it is not perfect. People move, and that is a confounding factor. McDowell’s population has dropped by more than half since the late 1970s, whereas Fairfax’s has roughly doubled. Perhaps more educated and healthier people have been relocating from places like McDowell to places like Fairfax. In that case, life expectancy would not have changed; how Americans arrange themselves geographically would have.

“These things are not nearly as clear as they seem, or as clear as epidemiologists seem to think,” said Angus Deaton, an economist at Princeton.

Further, there is nothing to suggest that, for a given individual, getting a raise in pay or moving between counties would mean outliving her peers.

“The statistical term is the ecological fallacy,” Mr. Kindig said. “We can’t apply aggregate data to an individual, and that’s underappreciated when you’re looking at these numbers.” But, “having said that, I still think that the averages and the variation across counties tells us a lot,” he added. “We don’t want to let the perfect be the enemy of the good here.”

Despite the statistical murk, many epidemiologists, economists and other researchers say that rising income inequality may be playing into the rising disparity in health and longevity. “We can’t say that there is no effect, just because we don’t have clear methods to test the effect,” said Hui Zheng, a sociologist at Ohio State University…

Mr. Zheng has also posited that inequality, by socially disenfranchising certain groups and making them distrustful of public systems, may have a long-range effect on health.

To some extent, the broad expansion of health insurance to low-income communities, as called for under Obamacare, may help to mitigate this stark divide, experts say. And it is encouraging that both Republicans and Democrats have recently elevated the issues of poverty, economic mobility and inequality, But the contrast between McDowell and Fairfax shows just how deeply entrenched these trends are, with consequences reaching all the way from people’s pocketbooks to their graves.

I’ll mostly pass over Lowrey’s seeming willingness to take as hopeful recent Republican rhetoric on poverty absent any policy proposals that would do anything about it, whilst continuing to propose, inter alia, the destruction of Obamacare, the one program she cites as having the potential to help.  This kind of both-sides-ism seems to be an ineradicable MSM pathology.

What matters much more is the basic point to draw from the evidence within Lowrey’s piece:  poverty kills — or perhaps better, wealth saves. Increases in inequality correlate with an increasing gap between rich and poor on the most basic of measures, how long we all get to enjoy the pursuits of life, liberty and happiness.  Policies that drive such inequality, or do nothing to mitigate, are implicated in those lost years, in deaths before time.  Those policies are the current program of the Republican Party.

Literally:  Vote like your live depends on it.

Image: Albrecht Dürer, The Death of Crescentia Pirckheimer, 1504.

130 replies
  1. 1
    raven says:

    Ezra’s wife.

  2. 2
    Redshirt says:

    Hey!

    I’ve paid ZERO attention to the world in the last couple of months.

    Can someone fill me in with some bullet points? Specifically what stupid shit Republicans have been up to.

    Thanks in advance!

  3. 3
    Baud says:

    Literally: Vote like your live depends on it.

    Can’t be said enough. But, sadly, the Bible may be correct that people need to be visited by twelve plagues before they will listen.

  4. 4
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Redshirt:
    A Boeing 777 apparently vanished off the face of the Earth a week ago, an hour or so into a six-hour flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

    The Juicitariat have developed a curious fascination with mayonnaise, especially its merits relative to those of Miracle Whip.

  5. 5
    JPL says:

    It’s unfortunate that Annie Lowery didn’t have a chance to read Timothy Egan’s piece on Paul Ryan and his plans.
    link
    It’s unfortunate that the health care plan is demonized in the very areas that need it most.

  6. 6
    Woodrowfan says:

    Most of Fairfax County also votes heavily Democratic an the eastern portion is heavily Hispanic. How does the poor county vote? Any bets it’s heavily republican?

  7. 7
    JPL says:

    @Amir Khalid: Escaping from the reality of the day is not necessarily a bad thing. Some drown their sorrows in alcohol and some in miracle whip but this site allows them to coexist.

  8. 8
    Ben says:

    @Woodrowfan:
    Per the WV SoS website, McDowell voted 64%-34% for Romney in 2012, yet voted by similar margins for the rest of the Democrats on the ballot (Manchin on down). “I wonder what the reason was”, said no BJer in particular.

  9. 9
    JPL says:

    Coal has been a dying industry for years and I could not understand why the state didn’t try to lure other industry.
    West Virginia is a beautiful state and they could have encouraged tourism but instead they have beautiful parks that are barely maintained.

  10. 10
    Tommy says:

    @JPL: I am stunned by that as well. Look I get it is hard to replace the coal industry with something else, but alas as you noted WV is a flat out beautiful state. Also not that far from DC and all the population on the Eastern shore. Would seem to me if I was a tech company, and the state wanted to throw some money my way, I might set-up camp there.

    I mean if I was looking to hire a lot of young tech people, one pitch could be the lower cost of living, and well the great outdoors. A quality of life thing.

  11. 11
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Ben: There are Democrats, and there are Democrats, and if the new Senate is 50 D+I/50 R, Joe ‘Nighthorse’ Manchin isn’t gonna be either kind.

  12. 12
    Linnaeus says:

    @JPL:

    I would guess that powerful interests would have enough influence with West Virginia political leaders such that they could stifle efforts to move away from coal. And tourism’s all well and good, but could it provide the wages that coal did? I’m skeptical.

  13. 13
    Woodrowfan says:

    Per the WV SoS website, McDowell voted 64%-34% for Romney in 2012, yet voted by similar margins for the rest of the Democrats on the ballot (Manchin on down). “I wonder what the reason was”, said no BJer in particular.

    humm, puzzling indeed.

  14. 14
    Tommy says:

    @Linnaeus: Coal is a powerful industry. I live in Southern Illinois where we have a lot of coal. A shit load of coal. Heck when Obama came here to campaign for the Senate he wouldn’t even come out against coal. You know his whole “clean coal” thing and the $500,000,000 the state of IL got to build a “clean coal” plant (whatever that is).

  15. 15

    @Redshirt: You seem to have come out of hibernation. Welcome back!

  16. 16
    JPL says:

    @Woodrowfan: WV is 94 percent white so there are few who can complain that those others stole their jobs. William Pierce felt quite secure though setting up shop in Pocahontas Cty, though.

    @Linnaeus: That was just an example but mom and pop businesses thrive all over the country because of the national parks. As Tommy mentioned, they should be giving enticement to tech firms, but as you indicated big coal families might not want funds diverted.

  17. 17
    geg6 says:

    @Linnaeus:

    Hell, coal jobs don’t pay what they used to and being a coal miner has never been a path to riches even when coal was king.

  18. 18
    Roger Moore says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    The Juicitariat have developed a curious fascination with mayonnaise, especially its merits relative to those of Miracle Whip.

    I didn’t pay attention to that one. Did anyone seriously dispute that Miracle Whip is the spawn of Satan?

  19. 19
    Tommy says:

    @JPL: Yes they do thrive. I am a huge hiker and camper and National Parks guy. Visit any of them and there is an entire ecosystem of businesses right outside of them all. I love the Smokey Mountains and I’d go as far to argue there is too much development.

    But I bet it would be hard to convince many folks in WV that maybe their greatest resource is the land they live on. My gut is folks would just roll their eyes if you even suggested some of the things we are talking about.

  20. 20
    WereBear says:

    Part of the Poverty Kills equation is the friggin’ stress.

    And then not being able to see a doctor to handle the high blood pressure, whacky blood sugars, and other high cortisol events that cascade in its wake.

    We can treat these things, but it’s far better to not incur them in the first place. I’m sure none of the inhabitants of Fairfax have dealt with a bank overdraft fee that means white bread and Miracle Whip sandwiches for the rest of the week.

  21. 21
    WereBear says:

    @Tommy: But I bet it would be hard to convince many folks in WV that maybe their greatest resource is the land they live on. My gut is folks would just roll their eyes if you even suggested some of the things we are talking about.

    Penny to my name

  22. 22
    Tommy says:

    @geg6: And they don’t employ the numbers they used to. Coal is big time where I live and assumed the industry must employ tens of thousands of people. The last numbers I saw, when I went a looking, is that number is below 7,500. If you would have told me that I would have bet you a ton of money you were wrong. You would have won.

    I am sure that number might be a lot higher in WV, but betting it is still a number lower then most would assume. I bet there are a lot of secondary jobs the industry creates, but again I bet there would be less jobs to replace then we might think.

  23. 23
    rikyrah says:

    Per the WV SoS website, McDowell voted 64%-34% for Romney in 2012, yet voted by similar margins for the rest of the Democrats on the ballot (Manchin on down).

    And thus, why I have no sympathy for these folks.

  24. 24
    JPL says:

    @rikyrah: Since a third of the county is below the poverty line, they must be enjoying those government hand outs.

  25. 25
    Bloix says:

    “Lowrey is careful to note that the causal connection between poverty and longevity (or its absence) is hard to establish,”

    Actually she’s not careful. The passage you quote is well down in the article, long after the jump.

    The thing is, when you look at the county data, you can’t tell which way the causality runs. Correlation is suggestive of causality, but it doesn’t prove it, especially when the causation could run both ways at the same time (this can happen when masses of aggregated data disguise trends that would be detected with a more finely grained analysis.)

    In Lowrey’s article, we learn far down in the piece that McDowell County’s population has dropped more than 50% in 35 years. “Perhaps,” she says, “more educated and healthier people have been relocating from places like McDowell to places like Fairfax.”

    Perhaps? Yuh think? Maybe the more mobile more employable people have left?

    This could have been studied. For example, you could use high school graduation rates as a proxy and see what percentage of high school grads have left versus the emigration rate more generally.

    But based on the evidence Lowrey presents, there is no reason to conclude that being poor makes you sicker. It’s just as likely that being sick makes you poorer. In fact, both may be true, and the causality may run both ways, depending on the individual case.

    Her anecdotal evidence is just as bad. She spends a lot of time on a woman who had a stroke at age 21. Well, yeah, in our society, unless you start off wealthy, becoming disabled just as you enter the workforce is pretty much a guarantee of lifelong poverty. She not sick because she’s poor. She’s poor because she’s sick.

    I personally tend to believe that being poor does make you sicker. It’s a shame that the article doesn’t cast any light on the question.

  26. 26
    Tripod says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    As coal production winds down, I have absolutely no doubt the good people of WV will turn control of the state over to the GOP. Change is hard and reactionary politics easy. The UMWA and WV Democrats are frozen in the status quo, and will offer nothing in meaningful alternatives for the way forward.

  27. 27
    Linnaeus says:

    @geg6:

    No, it’s not a path to riches, but it may have been better than the alternatives available in a generally underdeveloped area, at least historically.

    @JPL:

    I’m sure that there are businesses that do well around the parks, but my next question would be for whom? The owners? How many people do they employ and what are those employees paid?

    I’m not dismissing the possibility that a more robust tourism sector could contribute to a better economy in places like West Virginia so they’re not as dependent on coal. Coal is nasty, nasty business. What I’m saying is that I think we need to go further than that – tourism’s only part of the solution. And that means we as a nation need to fork over some serious money to help these areas. It really needs to be a systematic effort.

  28. 28
    Ultraviolet Thunder says:

    @rikyrah:

    And thus, why I have no sympathy for these folks.

    I’m somewhat sympathetic toward low information voters. Pretty much every available media channel has been lying to them for over a decade and saying that reactionary politics would save them. Some were skeptical and saw through the MSM bias but plenty of folks who grew up trusting the news have been fooled.

  29. 29
    Tommy says:

    @rikyrah: What pisses me off is that many of these deep red states are “takers.” Meaning the state gets a lot more in federal tax dollars then they pay. I live in one of those “blue” states were we don’t get even close to a dollar back for each federal tax dollar we pay. I kind of want my money back.

    I am also sick that they vote people into office that won’t pass things I care about. Won’t spend money on the basics, like newer and better roads. Yet they got no problem taking every dollar they can get and spending it on gosh knows what.

  30. 30

    Why is Annie not at the Vox?

  31. 31
    the Conster says:

    @Redshirt:

    I’ve been looking for you here among the flotsam and jetsam of BJ, hoping you had not taken the General Stuck route out of here. Where have you been?

  32. 32
    JPL says:

    @Linnaeus: True. My original comment was that the state was not planning on the future, only placating the industry.

  33. 33
    Linnaeus says:

    @JPL:

    Agreed that that’s not a good thing.

  34. 34
    aimai says:

    @Bloix: Is it even a question? Poor people who have small illnesses and physical ailments either don’t get them treated, so they worsen, or can treat them only sporadically and can’t get the rest and relief they need for those illnesses to heal. This is so obvious that even a Republican who had a stroke gets it: the therapeutic treatments available to him were much better than those available to someone without health insurance, or on Medicaid.

    So: sure, a person who is disabled before she starts earning is “poor because she’s sick” but a person who is disabled without health insurance and family money for appropriate therapy is “sick ( or sicker than she may need to be) because she’s poor.”

  35. 35
    raven says:

    UVA

  36. 36
    Tommy says:

    @JPL: This may surprise a lot of folks, but when I lived in DC I knew folks that actually lived in WV and commuted. If you look at the top five richest counties, I think 4 are in the DC area. You got all that government spending and technology sector. I see no reason WV couldn’t get a big chunk of it.

  37. 37
    Egypt Steve says:

    Heh. Again and again we see stories that point to negative trends that began in the 1980s. Somehow, they never point out who was President for most of the 1980s, or mention that the 1980s was a time in which a particular political philosophy began to be ascendant in this country.

  38. 38
    KG says:

    As I’m watching the last of the conference tournaments in college basketball, an interesting question popped into my head: what would be the most annoying sports fan imaginable? My initial thought is someone who roots for all of the following: the Yankees, the Lakers, the Cowboys, Duke basketball, Manchester United, and either Texas or Alabama football. Is there any way to make them worse? Is there a truly hateable team in the NHL?

  39. 39
    Roger Moore says:

    @Linnaeus:

    I’m sure that there are businesses that do well around the parks, but my next question would be for whom? The owners? How many people do they employ and what are those employees paid?

    There is a mix of better and worse paying jobs. There are some typical low paying service jobs (e.g. restaurant, hotel, and tourist-trap sales), but there is also a fair amount of better paid stuff available (e.g. wilderness guides, artists, specialized gear sales and rental). The advantage from a local economy standpoint is that a lot of the businesses are locally owned mom-and-pop places rather than big national chains, and a fair number of the tourists who are visiting are well off and willing to spend a lot of money on their vacations.

  40. 40

    The problem with our economy and the global economy is that the policymakers have favored capital over labor for over 30 years.

  41. 41
    Ultraviolet Thunder says:

    @aimai:
    Recall that life expectancy in actuarial terms means life expectancy at birth. Statistics include infant deaths and the deaths of children. It’s more than just how well you weather the hazards of adult life and illness at the end of life.
    For there to be significant differentials in life expectancy you would expect higher mortality at all ages. This involves a lot of complex things like types of employment, workplace safety, care for newborns, vaccination and children’s health, the weather, traffic, etc. Fairfax is almost certainly a better place to survive in a number of ways.

  42. 42
    raven says:

    @KG: Tennessee football, no contest.

  43. 43
    Woodrowfan says:

    @WereBear: i suspect a few do, but a lot smaller percentage than in most places, yes. I checked, and about 19% of the students in the county school system qualify for free or reduced price school lunches. They are not evenly distributed across the county though.

  44. 44
    Ben Mays says:

    I was born in Welch, the McDowell County seat and parts of my family has been there since the 1700’s. It was solidly D country most of my life. McGovern included. But everyone left. Almost 75% pop decline since 1950. My parents generation almost completely abandoned the area. Much of my family did, eventually, move from McDowell to Fairfax. Unless you see it, you cannot imagine what it looks like in a place that has 75% of its housing stock abandoned, with main street after main street abandoned and boarded up. It really is a visual representation of the collapse of our Post War industrial economy.

  45. 45
    Linnaeus says:

    @KG:

    Is there a truly hateable team in the NHL?

    I would say no, not for the general or casual fan. If you “hate” a particular NHL team, it’s because of a rivalry.

  46. 46
    Woodrowfan says:

    @Tommy: same here they vanpool and sleep in the van. I’d never want a 3 hour oneway commute, but they can buy a big house with tons of land on a GS-11 salary

  47. 47
    khead says:

    Yea! My hometown made the big city news again! Kinda funny though – I didn’t move to Fairfax. For me it was HoCo on the MD side instead. Pretty much the same place though.

    Also, an ATV economy doesn’t pay as much as coal mining.

  48. 48
    Tommy says:

    @Roger Moore: And I wonder if the Federal government couldn’t help out here. In the larger parks there are family owned businesses in said park. Clearly the government has to be giving out those licenses. And lets face it. A camping store in the actual park is better then being outside.

    If Congress could actually do something you could use the Park Service and the SBA to try and you know, create more local businesses.

    BTW: I would also agree with your analysis on the jobs. Many are lower wages, a lot of services as you noted. But then there are higher paying jobs. For example I am not sure I’ve ever been to a park where I didn’t walk out of it with some local artwork.

  49. 49
    Roger Moore says:

    @KG:

    Is there any way to make them worse?

    Yes: have them deny that they’re just fans of the traditional powerhouses and claim that they’re fans of all those teams because that’s who they grew up rooting for. It might also be worse if they used to be fans of all those teams when they were winning but have been total front-runners and switched allegiances to teams that have been doing better recently.

  50. 50
    🍀 Martin says:

    @JPL:

    Coal has been a dying industry for years and I could not understand why the state didn’t try to lure other industry.

    West Virginia does not change until they are forced to. And even then they don’t really change. WV will be worshipping the coal days decades after the last coal comes out of the ground, much as the south still celebrates the Confederacy long after it was rightfully destroyed.

  51. 51
    Ultraviolet Thunder says:

    @Tommy:

    I would also agree with your analysis on the jobs. Many are lower wages, a lot of services as you noted. But then there are higher paying jobs. For example I am not sure I’ve ever been to a park where I didn’t walk out of it with some local artwork.

    It’s not to be discounted, though. Without tourism the west coast of Michigan would collapse, having only a little manufacturing and a lot of low-labor agriculture left. As it is, it’s pretty prosperous. A lot of that has to do with well developed recreation facilities within an easy drive of the Chicago population center.

  52. 52
    Roger Moore says:

    @Tommy:

    And I wonder if the Federal government couldn’t help out here. In the larger parks there are family owned businesses in said park. Clearly the government has to be giving out those licenses.

    There are still some mom-and-pop places inside the parks, but it seems to me that a lot of the business gets sent to big concessionaires like Xanterra. I would personally prefer that businesses inside the parks be kept to a minimum, both to cut back on that kind of thing and to help preserve the wild character of the parks. I want to go to National Parks to visit nature, not to go shopping.

  53. 53
    the Conster says:

    @KG:

    I hate the Canadiens. Worst homer fans and they’re the NHL equivalent of Italian soccer teams in their ability to flop and whine to the refs while the play moves on. There’s a reason why they’re always on the power play.

  54. 54
    KG says:

    @raven: Tennessee plays football?

    @Linnaeus: that’s what I figured, though I suspect if Montreal was still good, they’d be in that category.

  55. 55
    aimai says:

    @Ultraviolet Thunder: Yeah, sure. Bloix and I were talking about a much narrower point.

    But I don’t know why this is treated as such an impenetrable statistical question in the first place. Essentially this is ilke a multi year drug trial in which you have to figure that a certain number of people fall out of the trial midway through. A cousin of mine created the statistical models that are used to handle all this complex data.

    You’d think that someone could do the sociological and ethnographic work to determine what happened to the actual residents over the last 30 years–where they moved and what they died of through tracking their names and their obits in local papers.

  56. 56
    KG says:

    @Roger Moore: the front runner thing was something else that I considered… the guy who rooted for the Cowboys in the 90s and then suddenly became a Patriots fan around February 2002. but I’m thinking someone who roots for all the traditional powers and has no real reason to (I get rooting for the school you or family went to, I get rooting for a local pro team that happens to be really good) would be the more obnoxious.

  57. 57
    TriassicSands says:

    I’ll mostly pass over Lowrey’s seeming willingness to take as hopeful recent Republican rhetoric on poverty absent any policy proposals that would do anything about it,

    That’s really unfair. The GOP has made lots of policy proposals that would do something about poverty.

    Of course, they’d all make it much, much worse, but, hey, they’re Republicans.

  58. 58
    JPL says:

    @Ben Mays: What did you think of the article? I thought it was a stretch to compare a county of 21,000 to Fairfax Cty. that has over 1 million.

  59. 59

    Speaking of elections, why am I supposed to give a shit about Crimea? Anyone?

  60. 60
    Tommy says:

    @Ultraviolet Thunder:

    A lot of that has to do with well developed recreation facilities within an easy drive of the Chicago population center.

    I see the same thing with WV. Really not that far from NYC and DC. Two of the largest population areas in the nation. People with money to spend. I can see the tourism ads running for WV in those areas right now. I just can’t stress to folks that have not been to WV how beautiful it is.

    I just get the feeling most people have only seen coal mines or a broken down trailer with trash in the yard.

    There is that of course. But my gosh there is so much natural beauty it is hard to explain.

  61. 61

    @Tommy:

    “Almost heaven … West Virginia … Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River ….”

    You owe John Denver a big apology, buddy!

    West Virginia is beautiful, but it’s sad that some of the prettiest parts are being destroyed, too.

  62. 62
    Tommy says:

    @Roger Moore: I don’t agree. I don’t go to a park to shop either. I would want pretty strict guidelines. That anything built, would need to have a primary benefit for being there and the store, well it would look like it belongs.

  63. 63
    KG says:

    @Southern Beale: because Crimea is to World War 3 as the Sutenland is to World War 2, or something. really, it’s mostly because a world power (they have a seat on the Security Council, nuclear weapons, and sell a lot of oil/natural gas to the rest of Europe) has essentially invaded another country (that is not a world power) and is attempting to annex a portion of it. that’s the kind of thing that traditionally leads to war. and as things play out, the facts are suggesting that Putin may no longer be a rational actor in that he believes his own propaganda – and again, they have nuclear weapons.

  64. 64
    Roger Moore says:

    @Tommy:
    Another important question is how much of the wonderful unspoiled land there is still available to be turned into a National Park. It looks as if Monongahela National Forest would probably do just fine; there is already federally protected wilderness in the area.

  65. 65
    Just One More Canuck says:

    @KG: Toronto – no team more arrogant with less reason to be

  66. 66
    Tommy says:

    @Southern Beale: Yes it is sad. As I have mentioned there is a lot of coal around me. But it is under corn fields. We are not blowing up mountains to get at it. So there isn’t that much of an outrage. Technology is such you almost don’t even know where the mines are. Kind of the old phrase out of sight out of mind.

    I am pretty sure in my mostly liberal state if we were blowing up mountains to get at coal there would be a huge outcry.

  67. 67
    Ultraviolet Thunder says:

    @Tommy:

    I just get the feeling most people have only seen coal mines or a broken down trailer with trash in the yard.
    There is that of course. But my gosh there is so much natural beauty it is hard to explain.

    Well, I’m half convinced. I’m plotting to pry my wife away from her job this summer for a driving vacation. It was going to be the Smokies or the Adirondacks and we haven’t been to the Smokies in years.
    Gotta start checking the maps. I need to throw in a Bluegrass festival to seal the deal with her.

  68. 68
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Linnaeus: The Billy Smith era Islanders.

  69. 69
    Just One More Canuck says:

    @the Conster: A Broons fan (IIRC) complaining about power plays? That’s pretty funny

  70. 70
    geg6 says:

    @KG:

    Yankees fans, Cowboys fans and a tie between Notre Dame, Duke and Ohio State fans. I hate them all.

  71. 71
    Redshirt says:

    @the Conster: I’ve been shoveling snow! How has the Winter been in Boston?

  72. 72
    Tommy says:

    @Ultraviolet Thunder: I am 110% sure if you went to WV you would be blown away. I recall the first time driving through the state and being stunned. I am not sure what I thought the state would look like, but I sure didn’t expect what I found.

  73. 73
    🍀 Martin says:

    @Tommy:

    I see no reason WV couldn’t get a big chunk of it.

    Because they don’t want it. It’s been a while since I spent time in WV coal towns, but I did spend a lot of time in them years back. Above all, the public didn’t want change. They voted in mayors and city councils whose charge was to bring the glory days back, to not let a bunch of upstarts come in and tell everyone what to do. They hated Obama because he promised change. They’d rather have cancer than change. Literally, they would. If the city government isn’t there charting a new path, inviting that business in, providing what those businesses need (mostly reliable infrastructure and education), then they will never get any piece of it even if the Feds and everyone else wants to give it to them.

    The regions that grow in this economy are those that are willing to throw the past away for a better future. And that typically requires an entirely new population. If you look at a lot of the places where this kind of growth has happened, they’re basically all new populations, taken from all over. There’s no shared history there. The population of Fairfax have no particular ties to the area – they come from NY and Detroit and Iowa and Arizona and everywhere else. They’re entirely forward looking, only trying to preserve enough of a veneer of what the area might have been to make it comforting. My city of 250K was founded in 1972. There’s no nostalgia here. We’ll chase any new thing that will make the place better.

    This is also a good case for immigration – immigrants challenge the status quo (which is why conservatives hate them so much) and that allows new ideas in.

  74. 74
  75. 75
    Thoughtful David says:

    @Tommy: Throwing money is one thing, but if you want to attract some high-tech industries and the types that go with them, you have to offer more, not just low-costs and outdoor opportunities, which I agree, are part of the attraction. You actually have to offer a high quality of living: good restaurants, stores that stock more than Wonder Bread, good schools, etc. WV has a long way to go on those things, to make it actually attractive.

  76. 76
    🍀 Martin says:

    @aimai:

    You’d think that someone could do the sociological and ethnographic work to determine what happened to the actual residents over the last 30 years–where they moved and what they died of through tracking their names and their obits in local papers.

    Yeah, but then we’d need to confront the results. Better to now know and just blame it on KFC and Mountain Dew.

  77. 77
    smith says:

    I was born and raised in WV and couldn’t wait to get out. One big problem with reorienting the economy there is cultural: there’s a strong fatalistic streak that tends to attribute all the shit raining down as just God’s will. The people who think things can be made better move away as soon as they can.

  78. 78
    Roger Moore says:

    @geg6:

    Notre Dame

    This. Hands down the most insufferable team in college football.

  79. 79
    🍀 Martin says:

    @JPL: 50 years ago they had exactly the same population. Decisions were made. These are the results.

  80. 80
    Tommy says:

    @Thoughtful David: Well there is the chicken or egg problem. You need to have the types of businesses you noted to attract the type of companies/people you referenced. But those businesses won’t start there, if the people that will shop at them are not already there.

    It is a problem one of my clients has. A huge park district in CA. Only a few hours away from major population areas. They feel they could be a huge tourism spot, but alas they don’t have the businesses to support it. But the businesses are not going to open up with the hope of people coming.

    Chicken or the egg …..

  81. 81
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    But…but…the pundits of the Village tell us that income inequality isn’t really the problem! Well, I guess when you’re dining regularly at Georgetown cocktail parties, it’s rather hard to imagine that income inequality is even an issue in this country…

  82. 82
    KG says:

    @Roger Moore: oh, I really should have remembered Notre Dame. that seems like a failure on my part.

  83. 83

    @Tommy:

    Well I wasn’t referring to the coal, actually, I was referring to the toxic chemical spill.

  84. 84
    Redshirt says:

    Moving back to rural Maine has been an eye opener after all the things I’ve done and places I’ve gone in the past 25 years. Sure, there’s the crushing poverty, and it’s shocking to see (people living in tarp homes for example), but more troubling for me is detecting this poverty in people’s “souls”. It crushes people, chews them up, spits them out, leaving dessicated husks of entire communities.

    And they drive like decrepit old people.

  85. 85
    khead says:

    @JPL:

    As far as poverty porn pieces go, I’ve seen worse written about McDowell.

  86. 86
    Ultraviolet Thunder says:

    @Tommy:

    I am 110% sure if you went to WV you would be blown away. I recall the first time driving through the state and being stunned. I am not sure what I thought the state would look like, but I sure didn’t expect what I found.

    Yeah, she went for it and she’s planning already. I was pretty stunned the first time I was in WV. I had to drive from Detroit to Charlotte NC for work on 9/11/01 because all flights were canceled. I paid $50 for 10 gallons of gas in WV.
    But the scenery was wonderful.

  87. 87
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @rikyrah:

    You mean these people vote for the guys bending them over and giving them the business without the courtesy of a reacharound for tribal reasons and not their own economic self interest?

    GET OUT and knock me over with a feather!

  88. 88

    @KG:

    Alrighty then, so we only care because it’s Russia then, is that right? Because other countries invade their neighbors all the time and we tend to yawn.

    I’m just sick of us having to always have a hand in this stuff. Really, the older I get the more isolationist I’m getting. I’m not seeing gross human rights abuses on the TV in Crimea, not like what is happening in Syria or what happened in Rwanda or Kosovo. I see a lot of dick measuring.

  89. 89
    KG says:

    @Tommy: we have existing tourism spots whose existence doesn’t make a lot of sense. Vegas and Palm Springs are two that jump to my mind. Essentially in the middle of nowhere, but have thrived for decades. So, I guess the question is, how did those types of cities do it?

  90. 90
    Tommy says:

    @🍀 Martin: That is a good point I hadn’t really thought about. My town had to be dragged kicking and screaming to change. It really only happened cause we hired a city manager that can do pretty much whatever he wants and isn’t elected. He just started changing stuff. People were not happy at first. Mad really. Then a funny thing happened, people started to like the change. New schools. More public parks. Public transportation. New businesses. More houses built.

  91. 91
    khead says:

    @🍀 Martin:

    Yes, Fairfax decided to be located right next to DC. I wish McDowell could’ve done that too.

  92. 92
    Roger Moore says:

    @Tommy:

    But those businesses won’t start there, if the people that will shop at them are not already there.

    It seems to me that those kinds of businesses are the kind that will spring up naturally and quickly when clientele shows up. A fancy restaurant or nice boutique doesn’t take a huge investment the way a high-tech startup does; you can even get them by having existing local businesses move upscale. What you need are enough tourists to create some demand. That will get the businesses up and running based on visitors, and then the local businesses can attract the bigger outside businesses you’re talking about. But that will only happen if you can convince people that the tourist attraction is worth visiting for its own value, even if the local amenities aren’t especially fancy.

  93. 93

    @Redshirt: That does not sound like the way life should be.

  94. 94
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Southern Beale: @KG: What KG said. The world does end at the borders of the US and, even if the US cannot do much about what is currently happening there, the fallout from it can affect us. Also, the people who live there and in the rest of Ukraine are potentially about to be in a war zone – which tends to suck.

  95. 95
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    This.

    A gazillion times, this.

  96. 96
    Thoughtful David says:

    @Tommy: I don’t disagree. The question would be, how would WV get chicken/egg cycle moving? I’d think that first they should start making sure that their target area has a great local education (public school) system, and some vocational training systems. That means investing in it. Then the state itself (socialism!) should set up something like a wind turbine factory, to attract some businesses to work as suppliers. They could support (more socialism!) the local state parks and recreation areas, to make them really nice. They could build and fund some good hospitals. Basically, what I’m looking for is More Socialism.
    Oh, and making sure you can drink it and bathe in the water wouldn’t hurt. Yet more socialism.
    It would all take a serious effort at investment and real money.

  97. 97
    KG says:

    @Southern Beale: pretty much because of Russia, Europe, and nuclear weapons. I’m guessing that if Ukraine would have been allowed to keep its nuclear weapons in the early 90s, Russia probably wouldn’t have invaded.

  98. 98
    elmo says:

    @Tommy:

    Makes me think of Lee Vining, California. The Eastern entrance to Yosemite Nat’l Park, but the road between Lee Vining and the park itself goes over Tioga Pass, so access to the park is cut off between October and late May. Essentially the town as a whole is only open during the summer months. A couple dozen businesses that live and die on four months of revenue if they’re lucky. In heavy snow years, sometimes the Park Service and CalTrans don’t get the road open until late June, and that just kills local businesses. But most of the time, they actually make enough money selling tchotkes and food from June to October to make a living the whole year round.

  99. 99
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Inequality may kill, but it’s not killing anyone important, so no big whoop.

  100. 100
    Roger Moore says:

    @KG:

    Vegas and Palm Springs are two that jump to my mind. Essentially in the middle of nowhere, but have thrived for decades. So, I guess the question is, how did those types of cities do it?

    Palm Springs has springs, which have been able to create tourist attractions at least since Roman times. And it’s close enough to, and well enough connected to, Los Angeles to provide a supply of tourists. I think there are also some people who liked to escape the cooler, rainier months in LA by visiting the desert. Vegas, as far as I can tell, also existed because of tourist traffic from LA, but in that case taking advantage of a laxer legal environment in Nevada that allowed things like gambling and easy weddings and divorces. FWIW, people still go from LA to Vegas to get legally married because they didn’t plan ahead and there’s no waiting period for a marriage license in Nevada. I think it also benefited from water and cheap electricity from Hoover Dam.

  101. 101
    KG says:

    @elmo:

    A couple dozen businesses that live and die on four months of revenue if they’re lucky

    Sounds like Sturgis, SD – locals can make money for the entire year with liquor licenses during the bike rally. One week a year.

  102. 102
    Tommy says:

    @elmo: I don’t mean what I am suggesting is easy. Heck a few years ago the city of St. Louis put a tax in place for businesses to raise money to market and advertise the city to tourist and conventions.

    What happened is kind of strange.

    We now have a lot more conferences, many of them of religious organizations. Millions of people each year. Yet the businesses say they do LESS business when a big convention is in town. It is crowded downtown, so locals don’t come. But just cause there are more people, doesn’t mean they are going to the local businesses when you can stop at a Wal-mart coming into town and buy whatever you need for the weekend.

  103. 103
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Ben Mays:

    Unless you see it, you cannot imagine what it looks like in a place that has 75% of its housing stock abandoned, with main street after main street abandoned and boarded up.

    That’s most of Washington County, Maine.

  104. 104
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @KG: Ukraine couldn’t wait to get rid of them. Chernobyl, and a real, serious reason for the Russians to come back any time, for starters.

  105. 105
    Tommy says:

    @Thoughtful David: Oh don’t get me started on wind. The town my parents live in hired a guy from NC to help bring businesses to the town. I noted that there was a fair amount of oil in the corn fields around town. You see the little oil wells doting the landscape, with collection facilities by the side of the road. I was like the huge tool and die factory that closed years ago could be retooled to make wind turbines.

    And the farms that used to pump oil could replace the wells with wind turbines.

    In a moment of honesty he said that wouldn’t work, the guy that put up the funding to hire him, well he is an oil man.

  106. 106

    @KG:

    Seems to me that if Ukraine (and the rest of Europe) had some energy independence via renewables everyone could tell Russia to go fuck themselves.

    But what do I know.

  107. 107
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Southern Beale: And if my grandmother had wheels, she would be a tram.

  108. 108
    Ash Can says:

    @KG:
    @Omnes Omnibus:

    The Broad Street Bullies were a real delight too.

  109. 109

    @Omnes Omnibus: LOL.

    So Crimea voted to join Russia. And I’m still confused about why we shouldn’t say, OK go to daddy Russia then and we’ll help Ukraine develop its democracy, its energy independence, etc. I mean, I really don’t get it, I’m not well versed in this stuff, I admit it, so explain why the USA would say to the people in Crimea that NO you need to be part of Ukraine? I did hear that Russia was forced to give Ukraine the Crimean region as reparations for Stalin’s gulags or some such but for crissakes that was how many generations ago?

    Seriously it’s like the same crap with Israel and Palestine all over again. We keep meddling in this shit, I’m really sick of it. Let them figure it out.

  110. 110
    Mike in NC says:

    Back when Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) was alive, the WaPo was constantly pointing out how he was steering many millions of dollars in federal contracts, road construction, etc. to his state every year. The Villagers largely did not approve.

  111. 111
    Schlemizel says:

    @KG:

    Funny, we were just talking abut fans yesterday at the NCAA playoff – there were some truly obnoxious BU fans a couple rows down from us. In college hockey I am not sure you can do worse than North Dakota fans, it is not recommended to attend a game in Grand Forks, it can be dangerous, particularly if the team with no name loses. We have had some bad experiences with Wisconsin fans at our house but found them to be wonderful hosts. Mostly I ignore opposing fans and try to be polite on the road but just show my colors.

  112. 112
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Southern Beale: Was the vote fair and honest? I would be surprised if it was. Should counties face consequences for threatening and invade other countries? I tend to think so (and that includes the US). Being isolationist doesn’t keep world events from happening or affecting us. Perhaps US involvement in negotiations can keep a shooting war from happening.

  113. 113
    Schlemizel says:

    @geg6:

    OOOOOOOOOooooo – I had forgotten about Notre Dump! Yes, they run hard toward obnoxious!

  114. 114
    Schlemizel says:

    @KG:

    Palm Springs was a short drive from Hollywood & it made an effort to get its resorts associated with movie stars. Vegas!? Seriously, you have to ask? The mob, hookers and sot machines.

  115. 115
    rikyrah says:

    @JPL:
    And yet they voted for the two sociopaths that would have shredded the social safety net.

  116. 116
    Ash Can says:

    @Southern Beale: The referendum was bogus. The Russian occupiers bussed in people from Russia to vote in it, they refused to allow UN observers to monitor it, they limited journalists’ access as much as they could, they harrassed Tatars to keep them from voting, and photos coming out of Crimea today show armed Russian troops everywhere, apparently trying to intimidate anyone who might be thinking of voting the wrong way. The Crimean puppet government declared victory yesterday, is already flying the Russian flag on the council building, and will be going to Moscow tomorrow to present its annexation petition to the Russian government.

    In other words, this is how Russian-run elections used to be. It’s an enormous step backwards, and an all-around bad sign.

  117. 117
    Roger Moore says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Was the vote fair and honest?

    Given that “remain part of Ukraine” was not an option, it wasn’t a fair vote. Given that it was carried out under the guns of an occupying power, it wasn’t a free vote. It’s a sham intended to provide a cover for Russian annexation.

  118. 118
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Tommy:

    Doesn’t surprise me at all. I had a good friend who worked at the Canadian Embassy back in the ’80s-’90s. For many years, he and his wife split their time between a tiny elegant apartment in Arlington and a roomier, less formal house somewhere in WV, don’t remember the town or county. Commuting from two states over never seemed to be an issue for him.

  119. 119
    🍀 Martin says:

    @khead: Fairfax had been next to DC for 150 years. My city is next to nothing other than an airport. Quarter of a million people now, tech hub, 6th richest in the country, incorporated 42 years ago.

  120. 120
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Tommy: I’m the same way. I usually take the long way to or from my relatives in Ontario just for the pleasure of driving through beautiful West Virginia and western Pennsylvania. It adds a couple of hundred miles and a few hours to the drive, but it’s infinitely more interesting and picturesque that taking I-75 all the way from Atlanta to Port Huron.

  121. 121

    Ever since our massive fuckup in Iraq I have become far more isolationist because I simply do not see American hegemony as any better than anyone else’s hegemony. I simply don’t trust our motives or our competency, no matter who is in the white house.

  122. 122
    Ben Mays says:

    @JPL:
    In the days my folks were in High School (Welch for Mom, Northfork for Dad), the pop was right at 100,000. Because the land is so vertical, it seem very crowded. When we moved first to suburban Chicago in the early 60s and the Fairfax in 1970, they did not seem overly large (Fairfax had @500,000 if I remember right). Fairfax seemed to be all government and military workers, with not (in Springfield at least) much variation in income. Both still had a large “middle” without a lot of real money. Obviously the explosion of contractor $ really changed most of Fairfax, and there is much more income diversity now. All the restaurant, stores, hotels and motels I remember from the 70’s and 80’s in McDowell have long vanished. There is still one great drive in/diner in town. My Uncle Don Boyd was installed in the McDowell County Sports Hall of Fame there last year. The family all stayed in hotels over in Mercer County. No other choices.

  123. 123

    […] View Original: Inequality Kills. Policy Drives Inequality. Elections Matter […]

  124. 124
    Woodrowfan says:

    lets wait to see what RT says about the referendum, maybe its a defeat for the Nazis in Ukraine! (yes, sarcasm)

  125. 125
    khead says:

    @Ben Mays:

    The Sterling Drive In ain’t what it used to be.

  126. 126
    Ben Mays says:

    Well, it does have a plaque for Uncle Don….

  127. 127
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Southern Beale: Countries adjoining Ukraine are NATO members. If he invades those, we are obligated by treaty to start World War III, which will probably kill everyone reading this and destroy human civilization.

  128. 128
    Andrew J. Lazarus says:

    Why do you suppose Paul Ryan talked about inner city culture, when McDowell County has Detroit-scale depopulation, rampant illness from bad lifestyle choices, family structure breakdown, and lots of drug abuse? Racist? The return of mud sill politics? Nah, can’t be.

  129. 129
    Bloix says:

    @aimai: Yeah, I think you’re right. But the study isn’t evidence of it. It could be if some more statistical work were done, but at this point it just isn’t. I’m persuaded that the conclusion is true — in other news, water is wet – but the study itself seems to me to be a classic case of correlation doesn’t prove causation. (Not that correlation isn’t evidence of causation, because it is evidence, but it’s not sufficient evidence to be considered proof when there are alternative explanations that are also plausible.)

    And this is a problem. Annie Lowrey is an impressive, rising young reporter and we’ll be relying on her a lot in the future – she needs to be more careful with statistics than she is here.

  130. 130
    Bloix says:

    Oops, not that anyone is still around, but I see I misspoke – when I said that the study isn’t evidence in the first sentence, I meant that it isn’t proof. It is evidence, but it’s equivocal evidence and contrary interpretations should have been featured much higher up in the article.

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