Why do 'red states' have more poverty?
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Why do 'red states' have more poverty?

Tampa : FL : USA | Feb 24, 2013 at 10:56 AM PST
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Activists join a nationwide rally in support of health care reforms in Miami, Florida

Americans do not have to guess what the country would be like if the small-government, conservative economic agenda were implemented on a national scale.

Many Republican-controlled, predominantly Southern “red states” already have. The result is not an abundance of prosperity from under taxed “job creators,” as often touted in sound bites and on the conservative candidate campaign trail. Instead, according to the numbers, it’s quite the opposite.

Smaller government austerity policies in red states have created macroeconomic societies with high poverty and low education rates. Low-paying jobs and lack of health care also dominate states that have implemented the smaller government theories of conservative ideology.

In Texas, for example, decades of Republican control, from the governor’s office down to state and local legislatures, has kept the Tea Party ideological model in place. And it has the highest poverty rate of “any large industrial state,” according to Texas Politics data.

The data showed similar high poverty rate numbers for other red states, including Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Tennessee.

Lack of health care is also a bigger problem in states following the conservative Republican ideological view of less funding for government assistance programs.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott recently acknowledged the serious economic problems associated with having more than 21 percent of the population without health insurance. The costs for hospitals treating the uninsured is so high, Scott surrendered to pressure from Florida health care providers and accepted the Medicaid expansion of the Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare.

Hunger is also a bigger problem among states where Republicans have had their way with local budgets. And while southern red states do not have a lock on growing US poverty rates, they still lead with the worse numbers. More than 24 percent of the people in Mississippi suffer from food deficiencies, with Alabama coming in second at nearly 23 percent.

Red States also top the charts for populations with lower education levels. The top 10 include Oklahoma, Tennessee, Indiana, Nevada, Alabama, Louisiana, Kentucky, Arkansas, Mississippi and West Virginia, according to Fox Business.

There is a disturbing correlation between Republicans and high poverty rates. CNN reports that the 10 poorest states in America tend to elect Republicans. Is this because they haven’t made the connection between conservative government policy and the need for the social safety net? Or have they simply been convinced by right-wing political rhetoric to vote against their own best interests?

In addition to the disconnect between conservative policies and economic security, it has been demonstrated in states completely controlled by Republicans that consolidated power can lead to loss of personal freedom and the most fundamental elements of democracy.

In the 2012 elections, the people of Michigan voted by a 53 to 47 percent margin to repeal the state’s power to replace their local elected representatives with appointed emergency managers, in areas with struggling budget issues. “The law was intended to help municipalities avoid bankruptcy or default, but it has been criticized for infringing on the rights of local governments,” according to the New York Times.

Rather than listening to the voice of voters who repealed the law at the ballot box, Michigan legislators have ignored court orders to remove “emergency managers” and reinstated the legislation, this time adding a clause that blocks any further attempts by the public to make it a ballot initiative in the future.

Republican-controlled legislatures have also used their power to strip unions workers of their rights to collective bargaining, as Gov. Scott Walker did in Wisconsin.

So not only are Republican’s changing the fundamental economic structure of America, they are using scare tactics and misleading campaign ads to try to gain monopoly-control of as many branches of government as they can.

Salon.com put it this way:

This is the formula for a reactionary politics that does not serve the collective good….

Elites who have long been disconnected from the masses manipulate this anxiety into a politics that serves to gut the social safety net and chase down the chosen bugaboos of the Right--the "evil" unions, "liberals," "intellectuals," teachers, Muslims, immigrants, racial minorities, gays and lesbians, "overpaid" public employees, and/or anyone who is not a "real American."

In the end game, the authoritarianism infused White reactionary Tea Party AstroTurf politics of the New Right are the road to inverted totalitarianism--an order that rises out of a failure of democratic politics, a collapsed and exhausted economy, a triumphant corporatism, and the false promises of popular Conservatism.

In the 2012 elections, voters did indeed reject the policies of right-wing Republicans by giving Democratic House candidates over a million more votes. However, Republican gerrymandering after the 2010 census prevented those votes from counting toward democratic control of Congress.

Today, the only thing preventing the United States from becoming the poverty-ridden, low education, no health care, totalitarian-style government that has taken over red states is the Democratic majority in the Senate and Barack Obama in the White House.

Will voters in 2014 make the connection between their own economic interests and adversarial conservative policies and reject GOP monopoly rule? Or will they continue to vote for candidates who have demonstrated that their best abilities lie only in creating less opportunity, and more hardship and poverty than their blue state counterparts?

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Sources and more info in addition to the links above:

Child poverty in the South getting worse

'The Hunger Games' Are Here. And They Are Very, Very Real.

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itobin53 is based in Tampa, Florida, United States of America, and is an Anchor for Allvoices.
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