The Poverty State of Red

Conservatives often tout their economic policy as better than that of anyone else. They claim their policies create jobs and foster economic growth where everyone benefits from trickle down success at the top. It is an age old maxim rung into our conscience with the rise of President Ronald Reagan many years ago. The problem is that the numbers do not always add up or even come close to reality.

As has been noted by Occupy Democrats 9 out of 10 red states are the poorest in the country as judged by median family and household income as well as individual income. The data is based on a Wikipedia table based on the 2010 U.S. Census, as well as data from the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis. Ironically, these red states all voted Republican in the last four presidential elections, and of course local elections –not just one election cycle. These facts lend one to ask just why are so many red states in the state of poverty if such conservative policies work so well.

Red states conservatives often tout business friendly political policy meant to drive economic growth with relaxed or little regulation and labor unfriendly policy. They do not promote a living wage or higher minimum wage and they do not pass regulations meant to help the labor force or the general public. These states balk at any kind of collective bargaining or provisions for generous pensions and healthcare benefits.

West Virginias recent chemical mess is a good example of the tactics by red states –in fact West Virginia is one of the 9 in ten states that is the poorest. Its lack of regulations of the chemistry industry in the state has led to numerous environmental disasters –the latest, a poisoning of the water supply in Charleston by a highly unregulated chemical company that was last inspected a decade ago –all of this in the name of jobs desperate citizens want.

Then there are other red states mostly in the South and Midwest that push right to work laws that discourage union membership and encourage corporate exploitation of the working poor. Right to work is simply a moniker for a right to starve though no conservative would ever want to admit it or see it. The lack of a well-regulated work place also lends itself to safety concerns for workers in these red states. Who cannot forget the fertilizer plant explosion in Texas  –a plant that was also not expected since decade ago and where many safety concerns were brushed under the rug in the name of business and economic development.

Red states are in the state of poverty because they favor conservative policies that reward the wealthy and big business at the expense of the poor. These states create an atmosphere of low wage jobs with little benefits and harp on the desperation of the people residing in these states. Furthermore they play a dirty brand of divide and conquer and smoke and mirror politics to keep their political control. Many of these red states are nothing far shy of the workshops in communist China where the only thing that matters is profit for business over people and political profit for the party.

Unfortunately people in these red states are partly to blame for their lot by electing people who promote more of the same instead of proactive change that would benefit them over big business. But then education is not a big priority in many of these red states and people are simply not educated about the realities of their lot. It is a case of the well to do leading the blind and keeping the blind blind so they can consolidate power for their wealthy special interests and donors. The irony is the so called blue bastions of liberal states are the wealthiest and most robust economically as well as the most fruitful to their citizens generally speaking.

It is very telling that 9 out of 10 red states who have historically voted red time and again are the poorest in the country today. It is even more telling how these red states and their policies promote such poverty without a second thought and finesse a populist ignorance and desperation.

No one can suggest that every conservative ideal or policy is a bad one on its face. No one can say that all liberal policies are the most correct in every case. The fact is that it takes a little of both to build real solutions that work for everyone and that build income equality as best we can do it. Most of the wealthiest states in our nation do just do just this. However, the current state of ram shod politics at every level of government these days especially in red states and among red state congressmen and senators is a bad precedents for the country and states as a whole.

The only way to govern effectively and reduce poverty is to work together in a sincere and meaningful way and not just stack the deck one way or the other to this group or segment or the other. Sure business needs to be able to thrive but it also has a responsibility to help its employees thrive too in the course of making profits for the business. There needs to be certain regulations and rules for the road –the complete free market ideal is not functional and never has been. We are greater than pure animals in the wild –we are people in society so Darwinist economics does not work as applied to the populist.

Poverty is not going to go away when big business calls all the shots and when there is no sensible regulation of the economic environment as well as the work place and environment in general. Poverty is not going to shrink when decisions are made solely on profit motive no matter what the cost to the populist at hand. A state can still be open to business and also be labor friendly and environmentally friendly.

The Great Depression was made on Laissez-faire economics and we all know the results of that. It is a very telling sign that so many red states are home to the poorest of people. Conservatives and the GOP should ask themselves do they really want to be known for promoting poverty or rather for promoting progress and economic growth for all –not just a select few.

When the populist cannot make a fair equitable living then an entire state or nation’s economy will suffer. Business itself will suffer in the end if these consumers cannot afford the products and services a business in these states offer. It is only fair that there should be a goal to make a more equitable distribution of wealth among people for the work they do to help business thrive. Business has a responsibility to not just fatten its bottom line at any expense but to build good long term well-paying jobs for the people who help make them successful. The red state of poverty illustrates this fact so well.

© 2014 Ted Manolatos