November 10, 2002
O Beautiful for Extremely Large Economic Gaps

With the fall of Connie Morella, Democrats now represent 12 of the 20 highest-income congressional districts--and 16 of the 20 lowest-income congressional districts. If I were smarter, I think I would be able to draw some very interesting conclusions from this...


Per Capita Income by Congressional District, from polsci.com


Top 50
No District Representative Income
1. New York 14 Carolyn B. Maloney [D] 41,151
2. California 29 Henry A. Waxman [D] 34,253
3. Connecticut 4 Christopher Shays [R] 27,130
4. Maryland 8 Constance A. Morella [R] 26,900
5. Illinois 10 Mark S. Kirk [R] 26,405
6. New York 8 Jerrold Nadler [D] 26,168
7. California 14 Anna G. Eshoo [D] 26,047
8. California 24 Brad Sherman [D] 25,767
9. California 36 Jane Harman [D] 25,534
10. New Jersey 11 Rodney P. Frelinghuysen [R] 25,454
11. California 47 Christopher Cox [R] 25,268
12. Virginia 8 James P. Moran [D] 24,799
13. Florida 22 E. Clay Shaw, Jr. [R] 24,663
14. New Jersey 12 Rush D. Holt [D] 24,615
15. Michigan 11 Joseph Knollenberg [R] 24,466
16. New York 18 Nita M. Lowey [D] 24,392
17. New York 5 Gary L. Ackerman [D] 24,296
18. California 10 Ellen O. Tauscher [D] 23,972
19. New Jersey 5 Marge Roukema [R] 23,942
20. Texas 26 Richard K. Armey [R] 23,770
21. New York 3 Peter T. King [R] 23,702
22. New Jersey 7 Michael A. Ferguson [R] 23,253
23. California 15 Mike Honda [D] 22,833
24. Pennsylvania 13 Joseph M. Hoeffel, III [D] 22,786
25. Texas 7 John A. Culberson [R] 22,666
26. New York 19 Sue W. Kelly [R] 22,458
27. Georgia 6 Johnny Isakson [R] 22,297
28. Virginia 11 Thomas M. Davis, III [R] 22,202
29. California 6 Lynn C. Woolsey [D] 21,603
30. California 45 Dana Rohrabacher [R] 21,046
31. California 12 Tom Lantos [D] 20,984
32. Illinois 13 Judy Biggert [R] 20,912
33. Minnesota 3 Jim Ramstad [R] 20,805
34. Missouri 2 Todd Akin [R] 20,654
35. California 51 Randy [Duke] Cunningham [R] 20,586
36. Illinois 8 Philip M. Crane [R] 20,488
37. New York 4 Carolyn McCarthy [D] 20,349
38. California 27 Adam Schiff [D] 20,344
39. Connecticut 5 James H. Maloney [D] 20,316
40. Pennsylvania 7 Curt Weldon [R] 20,175
41. Virginia 10 Frank R. Wolf [R] 20,065
42. Florida 19 Robert Wexler [D] 20,029
43. New Jersey 9 Steven R. Rothman [D] 20,012
44. Connecticut 6 Nancy L. Johnson [R] 19,863
45. Massachusetts 7 Edward J. Markey [D] 19,825
46. New York 20 Benjamin A. Gilman [R] 19,680
47. California 48 Darrell Issa [R] 19,435
48. Illinois 6 Henry J. Hyde [R] 19,405
49. California 8 Nancy Pelosi [D] 19,377
50. Illinois 5 Rod R. Blagojevich [D] 19,242
Bottom 50
No District Representative Income
435. California 33 Lucille Roybal-Allard [D] 6,997
434. New York 16 José E. Serrano [D] 7,102
433. Texas 15 Rubén Hinojosa [D] 7,407
432. Kentucky 5 Harold Rogers [R] 7,725
431. Mississippi 2 Bennie G. Thompson [D] 7,771
430. Texas 28 Ciro D. Rodriguez [D] 8,050
429. California 20 Calvin M. Dooley [D] 8,097
428. Alabama 7 Earl F. Hilliard [D] 8,135
427. Illinois 4 Luis V. Gutierrez [D] 8,352
426. Arizona 2 Ed Pastor [D] 8,424
425. New York 12 Nydia Vel‡zquez [D] 8,534
424. South Carolina 6 James E. Clyburn [D] 8,631
423. North Carolina 1 Eva M. Clayton [D] 8,918
422. California 37 Juanita Millender-McDonald [D] 9,104
421. Arkansas 1 Marion Berry [D] 9,148
420. Louisiana 5 John C. Cooksey [R] 9,153
419. Florida 17 Carrie P. Meek [D] 9,157
418. Texas 16 Silvestre Reyes [D] 9,195
417. Utah 3 Christopher B. Cannon [R] 9,259
416. Missouri 8 Jo Ann Emerson [R] 9,300
415. Texas 29 Gene Green [D] 9,314
414. Texas 27 Solomon P. Ortiz [D] 9,366
413. West Virginia 3 Nick J. Rahall, II [D] 9,557
412. Louisiana 3 W. J. [Billy] Tauzin [R] 9,614
411. Oklahoma 3 Wes Watkins [R] 9,635
410. California 30 Xavier Becerra [D] 9,637
409. Mississippi 1 Roger F. Wicker [R] 9,639
408. Michigan 15 Carolyn C. Kilpatrick [D] 9,650
407. New Mexico 2 Joe Skeen [R] 9,672
406. Texas 20 Charles A. Gonzalez [D] 9,672
405. Pennsylvania 1 Robert A. Brady [D] 9,703
404. Arkansas 4 Michael A. Ross [D] 9,723
403. California 35 Maxine Waters [D] 9,761
402. Texas 23 Henry Bonilla [R] 9,764
401. Georgia 2 Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. [D] 9,804
400. Tennessee 4 Van Hilleary [R] 9,886
399. Oklahoma 2 Brad Carson [D] 9,914
398. Louisiana 2 William J. Jefferson [D] 9,918
397. Louisiana 7 Christopher John [D] 9,999
396. Florida 3 Corrine Brown [D] 10,047
395. Virginia 9 Rick Boucher [D] 10,097
394. Texas 2 Jim Turner [D] 10,113
393. Mississippi 5 Gene Taylor [D] 10,116
392. Alabama 4 Robert B. Aderholt [R] 10,170
391. Alabama 3 Bob Riley [R] 10,204
390. Louisiana 4 Jim McCrery [R] 10,218
389. Kentucky 1 Edward Whitfield [R] 10,238
388. California 31 Hilda L. Solis [D] 10,264
387. Mississippi 3 Charles W. [Chip] Pickering, Jr. [R] 10,303
386. Minnesota 7 Collin C. Peterson [D] 10,341

Posted by DeLong at November 10, 2002 07:47 PM | Trackback

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Hmm, this table forces all the other posts into a 20 character wide column on the right side of the screen. Happens on both IE and Opera.....

Posted by: Jason McCullough on November 10, 2002 08:10 PM

Could it be that the Democrat Party is greatly populated by guilt tripped well to do Liberals who like to spend other people's money to solve social problems? These well meaning Liberal Yuppies then persuade the poorest among us to embrace their self defeating nostrums of perceiving themselves as victims. Needless to add, the latter remain poor because they simply wait around all day for the welfare check to arrive. Do I sound unduly harsh? If so, that's tough. The Democratic Party is unwittingly responsible for perpetuating poverty and discouraging people to help themselves get out of the ghetto. Let us not forget that that poverty pimp Jessie Jackson is a Democrat leader. How much money do you think Jackson has received from wealthy Democrat Liberals?

It is the fault of the Democrats for our failing schools in the inner cities. Illegitimacy is rampant in the black community. The Indian reservations are mired in welfare dependency. These problems are mostly the fault of democratic policies. Doesn’t it make one want to be ashamed of being a Democrat? Don’t you realize now why the Republicans kicked but last Tuesday? Americans are starting to realize just how much destruction as been caused by naive Democrats and their refusal to comprehend that all humans are negatively impacted by the at least metaphorical reality of original sin. Their optimistic understanding of human nature has resulted in tremendous grief.


PS: If the theological underpinning of original sin are found upsetting, please feel free to substitute the late secular writer Isaiah Berlin’s concept of the crooked timber of humanity.

Posted by: David Thomson on November 10, 2002 09:16 PM

It's been said (by Thomas Sowell, among others) that redistribution programs for the most part represent a transfer of wealth from the middle class to the rich and to the poor. Looks like there's 28 congressional districts worth of evidence to back up the claim.

Then again, the list fails to factor in cost of living. A 26K salary in any part of Texas will but you a whole heck of a lot more than a 26K salary in most if not all of the Northeastern and Pacific states.

When Dubya campaigns in those states in 2004, he should read off rental listings from the upscale Dallas suburb of Highland Park to give the natives an idea of how badly they've been getting the shaft from leftist state governments.

Posted by: Alan K. Henderson on November 10, 2002 10:12 PM

Oh my god. Are the two of you actually in the employ of Democratic operatives to make the Democratic party look like the victim of a rhetorical mugging?

David, you are totally delusional about the outcome of the election. The Republicans won a marginal victory in 2002, just like they won a marginal victory in 2000. Welfare is a dead issue in politics today. Perhaps you didn't hear, but Clinton signed a welfare reform bill that limits lifetime eligibility to five years.

Alan, if the Democratic party is so effective in redistributing money from the middle class to the rich, then why are the rich disproportionately Republican? Are they unusually unable to protect their own interests?

Posted by: Walt on November 10, 2002 11:35 PM

“...Democrats are tied, in a very inflexible way, to labor unions. Should school vouchers become popular, the Dems would have a hard time adapting to the shift, because the teachers unions won't let them. To a lesser degree, Democrats would find it difficult to accommodate any wave of opposition to racial preferences, because the African-American base remains quite supportive of preferences.”

---Neo-Liberal Mickey Kaus

Kaus also admitted previous to the election that far too many Liberal democrats wanted to reverse the Clinton welfare reforms. So much so, that Kaus only half jokingly said that this might be a good reason to vote Republican. Has anybody heard of Nancy Pelosi? Isn’t she going to become the leader of the House Democrats?

Posted by: David Thomson on November 11, 2002 04:15 AM

I live in Maloney's top income district, formerly known as Manhattan's "silk stocking" enclave for its high-income/high-fashion tone.

The data is a little misleading, as the district sprawls into parts of Harlem and the lower East Side, encompassing many low-income housing projects and union-sponsored high-rises.

Stripping out the roughly square mile of Fifth to Lex/60th to 100th Street would likely drop the average income in the district far toward the national mean.

Posted by: George Zachar on November 11, 2002 04:57 AM

The following is from this morning's www.kausfiles.com:


"Pelosi Fails kf Litmus Test: Wondering why people say Rep. Nancy Pelosi's instincts may take her too far to the left? Here's what she said about the welfare reform legislation that President Clinton signed in 1996 -- a law that cut welfare rolls in half while black child poverty fell to record lows:

'If this bill passes today it will be a victory for the political spin artists and it will be a defeat for the children of America. ... The cuts in this bill will diminish the quality of life for children and poor families in America. ... How can a country as great as America ignore the needs of America's infants and children who were born into poverty?'"

I greatly admire Mickey Kaus and recommend that you read his seminal masterpiece, "The End of Equality." I am, however, bewildered why Kaus persists in remaining a Democrat. Oh well, nobody's perfect.

Posted by: David Thomson on November 11, 2002 06:12 AM

District population: 1000
Average Income of top 10 : 2 million
Average income of bottom 100: 9000
Average income of other 890: 23000

Per capita income for this 'district' 41,370

So, tell me now, does this mean anything, anything at all for how this district votes?

Without the relevant distributions, per capita data is totally meaningless, especially in the context of voting where each vote has the same weight irrespective of marginal contribution to per capita income.

So, why are we arguing based on completely useless data?

Posted by: Suresh Krishnamoorthy on November 11, 2002 06:17 AM

The obvious conclusion is that American politics does not split along economic class lines. If it did, the most reliable Democratic votes would be in the South and Midwest.

Instead of trying to view politics through the prism of Paul Krugman, you should try viewing it through the prism of George Lakoff. His "moral politics" says that people who view government as a "nurturant parent" vote left, and people who view government as a "strict father" vote right. I think that explains the electoral map much better than economic class.

I am not bashing Krugman because he is a liberal, because Lakoff is at least as far to the left. But Lakoff's categories explain voting patterns, and Krugman's don't.

Posted by: Arnold Kling on November 11, 2002 06:24 AM

Per capita income may explain voting patterns if it was per capita income of actual voters in that district. Lumping the incomes of voters and non-voters alike completely misses the complexities of voting especially when less than half the population actually votes.

I don't buy Prof Kling's 'nurturant parent' argument completely either. Doesn't ADM consider the government's farm subsidy 'nurturant'? So, does ADM vote left or right with its lobbying money and PAC contributions?


People vote for the government they believe will maximize their wealth. 'Left' and 'Right' depends on how many others are 'served' by these 'wealth maximizing' policies.

Posted by: Suresh Krishnamoorthy on November 11, 2002 06:40 AM

Suresh has one obvious question about the data. I suspect another reason for the reluctance of the Prof to draw some bold and striking conclusions is the small sample size. The actual proportion of Dems, 60%, is not statistically inconsistent with a broad range of "True Means".

So, this result would not invalidate a broad range of initial hypotheses.

Posted by: Tom Maguire on November 11, 2002 07:23 AM

Umm, I'd guess that the interesting conclusion is that 16 out of 20 is statistically significant, but 12 out of 20 is not.

Posted by: Matt on November 11, 2002 08:12 AM

Regarding SK's comment, it's fine to keep in mind the limitations of the data, but do you really think the figures are completely useless? That is, do you have any reason to doubt that the 20 top and bottom districts actually are a reasonable stab at the richest and poorest 20 districts in the country? (Also, I'm pretty sure that the Census Bureau uses a cap on income so that outliers would not skew the results anywhere near as much as you are thinking.)

Posted by: DF on November 11, 2002 08:21 AM

The findings shouldn't be surprising at all. With the demise of the New Deal Coalition, the parties fight less over economics and more over social issues. Look at some of the Republicans that are mixed in the top 20. Shays and Kirk are fiscal moderates and socially liberal. This cuts to the poor districts having Latinos or African-Americans who are may be socially conservative in some senses (abortion and vouchers), but liberal on issues affecting race. Rockefeller Republicans are becoming fewer and fewer, but the voters who supported Rockefeller types haven't changed that much. They still want fiscal discipline and social libertarianism. Republicans could pick off some of the ethnic voting, if they would deemphasize issues of race and focus on social conservatism.

What low income areas go for Republicans? Rural and white areas that are probably the most socially conservative group in the country.

Posted by: archpundit on November 11, 2002 08:27 AM

>>> Could it be that the Democrat Party is greatly populated by guilt tripped well to do Liberals who like to spend other people's money to solve social problems?... <<

Which brings to mind, for what it's worth, the list of richest Senators compiled by Roll Call earlier this year. (There's no reason to look just at the House.) All of the very richest were Dems, as were most of the richer. The top 10 ...

John Kerry (D-Mass.) $600 million+
Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) $400 million +
Sen. Jon Corzine (D-N.J.) $400 million
Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) $80 million
Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.) [but almost a Democrat!] $54 million
Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) $40 million
Peter Fitzgerald (R-Ill.) $25 million
Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) $17 million
John McCain (R-Ariz.) $14 million
John Edwards (D-N.C.) $13 million

The average Senate Democrat's net worth was about $11 million, versus an average for Senate Republicans of about $3 million.

The Democrats -- Party of the Plutocrats. ;-)

Posted by: Jim Glass on November 11, 2002 10:21 AM

"Republicans could pick off some of the ethnic voting, if they would deemphasize issues of race and focus on social conservatism."

The Republicans hardly emphasize issues of race. On the contrary, the GOP generally advances color blind policies. It is the Democrats who relish employing the race card. Have we already forgotten the vicious ads during the presidential campaign hinting that George W. Bush was somehow responsible for the murder of a black man?

Posted by: David Thomson on November 11, 2002 10:44 AM

Alan K. Henderson, do you believe in the supply/demand curves? If so, can you not then see that the cost of living on the Left Coast is so much higher than Dallas because well-heeled, well-educated people would much prefer to live there?

Sounds like the gov't that has some 'splaining to do would be the one in Texas.

I have no idea what point Jim Glass thinks he's making. Jim, do you bring that table up on sites like Instapundit's when Democrats are being bashed for having poor heads for business, and in fact "hating the wealthy?" I bet you just let it go.

Posted by: a different chris on November 11, 2002 10:51 AM

I still haven't forgotten George H.W.Bush's ads portraying Michael Dukakis as being somehow responsible for the murder committed BY a black man.

Posted by: a different chris on November 11, 2002 10:53 AM

Interestingly, Willie Horton was first mentioned in a debate by ... Al Gore.

Posted by: George Zachar on November 11, 2002 12:01 PM

Zachar's assertion is false, as Somerby's Daily Howler has exhaustively documented.

Posted by: RonK, Seattle on November 11, 2002 12:28 PM

Certainly, per capita wealthy districts can can be full of poor folks. But even more certainly, per capita poor districts are full of poor folks.

Interesting nuggets at both extremes. Rich district R's seem to be skewed to the far right and far left of their party.

Poor district R's are overrepresented by nutbags ("diaperhead" Cooksey) and con artists (Tauzin).

Posted by: RonK, Seattle on November 11, 2002 12:41 PM

From ABC News:

Bill Bradley’s latest attack on Al Gore accuses the vice president of playing the race card in his 1988 bid for the presidency, unwittingly giving Republicans the idea to use Willie Horton, a convicted murderer, as a divisive tool to defeat Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis.


“Gore introduced him into the lexicon,” Bradley insisted in an interview with the Boston Herald. “It bothers me a great deal … It proved in the course of the campaign to be a poster child for insensitivity.”



“By bringing Willie Horton into the primary debate,” said a spokesman for the Gore campaign, “Bradley is dividing Democrats on an issue they had successfully been using to tar the GOP with for years on racism and the Republican Party.”

Posted by: George Zachar on November 11, 2002 12:49 PM

These per capita income numbers don't seem right. The per capita income of the whole country is supposed to be somewhere around $36,000 a year. Yet only one Congressional district has a per capita income higher than that. I think the per capita income of the state of New Jersey (where I live) is over $40,000.

Maybe these income numbers are wrong, which means that the whole ranking might be wrong.

Posted by: Mitch on November 11, 2002 01:12 PM

Turning off italics.

Posted by: Mitch on November 11, 2002 01:14 PM

test

Posted by: Mitch on November 11, 2002 01:15 PM

damn

Posted by: Mitch on November 11, 2002 01:16 PM

Mitch: *I* don't see italics.

Posted by: George Zachar on November 11, 2002 01:20 PM

'I greatly admire Mickey Kaus and recommend that you read his seminal masterpiece, "The End of Equality." I am, however, bewildered why Kaus persists in remaining a Democrat. Oh well, nobody's perfect.'

Did you actually read the book?

'The average Senate Democrat's net worth was about $11 million, versus an average for Senate Republicans of about $3 million.'

Democrats have a tilt towards selection of candidates that can self-fund to make up the fundraising gap.

'Interestingly, Willie Horton was first mentioned in a debate by ... Al Gore.'

here

'Let's review. Gore criticized a furlough program which few today would affirm. He never mentioned Horton specifically, or ran ads on the topic. And according to Dukakis himself, he raised the issue in just one debate.'

Posted by: Jason McCullough on November 11, 2002 01:45 PM

I'd put more stock in Bill Bradley's emphatic "Gore introduced him into the lexicon", than in the Daily Howler.

Posted by: on November 11, 2002 01:52 PM

The reason for Democrats in high income districts is not that they are "guilt tripped". It is they don't want Tom DeLay telling them how to live their lives. It is about social policies advocated by, mostly Southern, Republicans. Shays, Collins, et al aren't with the program on social issues.

However, if Democrats want to win they will have to remove the "moderate" Republicans up north and on the Coast just like the GOP did in Georgia. They will have to get the Max Cleland treatment.

Posted by: Dave on November 11, 2002 02:05 PM

>>> I have no idea what point Jim Glass thinks he's making. <<<

No particular point, any more than Prof. DeLong made a point in his original post. Just an observation.

>>> Jim, do you bring that table up on sites like Instapundit's when Democrats are being bashed for having poor heads for business, and in fact "hating the wealthy?" <<<

Well, with the notable exception of Corzine most of that money was married or inherited, so it wouldn't reflect on anybody's head for business. And I don't particularly follow Instapundit.

Maybe the point is that while it may be better to marry for love than money, there's no rule against getting ahead by marrying for both.

Posted by: Jim Glass on November 11, 2002 02:35 PM

Off the top of my head ...
Self-made -- Kohl, Corzine, Frist, Edwards.
Married money -- Kerry (mostly), McCain.
Inherited money -- Rockefeller, Chaffee.
Don't know -- Feinstein, Fitzgerald.

Posted by: RonK, Seattle on November 11, 2002 02:44 PM

Feinstein has married money.

Posted by: Adam on November 11, 2002 02:54 PM

Update ...
Self-made -- Kohl, Corzine, Frist, Edwards.
Married -- McCain.
Inherited -- Rockefeller, Chaffee, Fitzgerald.
Inherited + (mostly) married -- Kerry, Feinstein.

Back to the original post, income figures are apparently per capita as stated, not per household, but apparently don't include all the gravy and trimmings (I don't see Mr. Gates neighborhood on the list).

Posted by: RonK, Seattle on November 11, 2002 03:09 PM

I'd put more stock in Bill Bradley's emphatic "Gore introduced him into the lexicon", than in the Daily Howler.

How about this then: Gore really really really didn't introduce Willie Horton into the lexicon. Was that emphatic enough to change your mind?

Rather than judging sources based on how loudly they speak, you might want to judge them based on the quantity and quality of evidence they bring to the table.

Posted by: Nick on November 11, 2002 03:27 PM

Interestingly, Willie Horton was first mentioned in a debate by ... Al Gore.


"Writing in Slate magazine, Timothy Noah says, "Gore never mentioned that Horton was black; indeed, he never mentioned Horton by name. He merely drew attention, correctly, to the damaging fact that Dukakis had tolerated a furlough program for especially violent criminals in his state even after a horrific incident strongly suggested this was a bad policy."


Shortly after the debate, Gore dropped out of the race. End of story ... except that a Bush campaign researcher following the debate picked up on the issue and did some digging. Subsequently, an independent group put together an ad for Bush which challenged Dukakis' record on crime and included a picture of Horton."

I was wrong to imply Gore specifically mentioned Willie Horton. Mea Culpa.

Posted by: George Zachar on November 11, 2002 04:21 PM

But your broader point--that the least one should ask of a member of *any* political party is that they not do another party's opposition research for them--stands with respect to Gore, and stands tall.

In primaries one is supposed to talk about how one would be a good candidate--not how other members of your party would be bad candidates.

Posted by: Brad DeLong on November 11, 2002 04:25 PM

This might have been an interesting thread. 37 of the poorest districts were in S/SW/Mountain states (all red but NM) red states, seven in California, and 6 in Northern Blue states. My own native district, rather to my surprise, was 50th poorest. I don't remember it that way, but nobody was rich either. What was said about distribution might be true in this sense -- in some of the poorest districts (Southern rural) maybe there enough fairly-well-off people to make the typical individual even poorer than the stats show.

And yes, poverty is caused mostly by welfare, racism is caused mostly by affirmative action, and homophobia is mostly caused by NBarbra Streisand.

Posted by: zizka on November 11, 2002 05:39 PM

This might have been an interesting thread. 37 of the poorest districts were in S/SW/Mountain states (all red but NM) red states, seven in California, and 6 in Northern Blue states. My own native district, rather to my surprise, was 50th poorest. I don't remember it that way, but nobody was rich either. What was said about distribution might be true in this sense -- in some of the poorest districts (Southern rural) maybe there enough fairly-well-off people to make the typical individual even poorer than the stats show.

And yes, poverty is caused mostly by welfare, racism is caused mostly by affirmative action, and homophobia is mostly caused by NBarbra Streisand.

Posted by: zizka on November 11, 2002 05:42 PM

Walt asks:

"Alan, if the Democratic party is so effective in redistributing money from the middle class to the rich, then why are the rich disproportionately Republican? Are they unusually unable to protect their own interests?"

Do rich people really vote disproportionately GOP? I don't know; I haven't seen the numbers. I suspect that business owners do. They understand the workings of commerce better than most, after all.

The Dem leadership wants to increase jobs and salaries and at the same time penalize the businesses that supply those things. Commerce-savvy people understand the futility of this. People who are not engaged in commerce, or those who are but are ignorant of or insensitive to market forces (like Barbra Streisand or Gary Winnick, or Clinton Commerce Department junket groupie Ken Lay), are the Democrats' target audience.

another chris says:

"Alan K. Henderson, do you believe in the supply/demand curves? If so, can you not then see that the cost of living on the Left Coast is so much higher than Dallas because well-heeled, well-educated people would much prefer to live there?

"Sounds like the gov't that has some 'splaining to do would be the one in Texas."

If the mere presence of rich people were enough to drive up costs, then why is the cost of living lower in Dick Armey's district than in many of the districts that rank below his?

Posted by: Alan K. Henderson on November 11, 2002 06:49 PM

Re Race Card
I live in GA and the race card has been played constantly for 30 years. It's called the southern strategy intiated by Richard Nixon. Instead of trying to win on issues, the GOP tells everybody that the Dem's are the party of blacks and you know you don't want them blacks to take over do you? What can I say--G. W. Bush campaigned for a Kluxer.

Posted by: Ga6thDem on November 11, 2002 07:09 PM

Why was the Willie Horton ad ever considered racist? This TV spot merely showed his face for a few moments. Is this supposedly an example of subliminal seduction? Would not the impact been the same if it had been a white thug? Is it always racist if a black person is highlighted? How many of you actually saw this political ad?

The ad hinting that Bush is responsible for the murder in Texas was far more blatant. One did not need to connect the dots. The message was loud and clear.

Posted by: David Thomson on November 11, 2002 08:00 PM

How it comes to be that the cost of living varies between states and localities may be debatable, but my original point is that such differences exist and that the chart in Professor DeLong's post would give a clearer picture if the comparison were done according to purchasing power rather than nominal income.

Posted by: Alan K. Henderson on November 11, 2002 09:13 PM

This might have been an interesting thread.

Posted by: on November 11, 2002 09:53 PM

"And yes, poverty is caused mostly by welfare, racism is caused mostly by affirmative action, and homophobia is mostly caused by NBarbra Streisand."

Poverty that is passed along from one generation to the next is almost certainly the result of misguided welfare policies. Unearned money tends to destroy one's character and self respect. And yes, affirmative action policies have often unwittingly increased racial tension. The irony is that I actually defend some affirmative action remedies. I see little problem with selecting a minority candidate if everything else is equal. Unfortunately, some of these programs discriminated against far more talented majority candidates. This is where the proverbial crap hit the fan.

Is Barbara Streisland responsible for homophobia? What the hell, the immature and intellectually vapid Ms. Streisland might as well be held responsible for that too. I am even tempted to blame her for the bubonic plague and the start of World War I.

Posted by: David Thomson on November 12, 2002 08:36 AM

Too much Willie Horton here..

I live in Carol Maloney' so-called silk-stocking district and no, everyone is not a plutocrat. The district includes lots of public housing, lots of (well heeled) little old ladies living in $400 a month rent-controlled apartments (while their neighbors pay $2500-$3000) The rich people tend to be limosine liberals, in fact a dirty secret about liberals is that many are quite well off. What only a couple posters discussed is the connection between household income and the cost of living. Yes, income averages tell you very little about distribution, but they also tell you little about how far that income takes you, and $41k does not take you anywhere in Manhattan unless you have rent-control, private assets or similar goodies. If you don't have the income, you don't live there. Maloney claims to speak for "working families", which in many high-cost places are families that make more than $100k (it only sounds like a lot). Being the ideologue that she is, she had to vote against the Bush tax cut, despite it heavily benfiting "working families" in her district, but she gets enough support from the coupon-clippers, little-old ladies that are "Medi-Scared", and other parts of her constituency that are not working families.

Posted by: Josef on November 12, 2002 08:36 AM

The majority of the very poor districts listed here are in red Southern and Southwestern states with very stingy welfare policies. If true, what you are saying is true of the 5 Northern Urban districts and the 7 california districts, not the 37 others. (The one northern rural district on the list is the one in Minnesota -- largest city Moorhead, about 40,000).

Posted by: zizka on November 12, 2002 08:48 AM

"...but she gets enough support from the coupon-clippers, little-old ladies that are "Medi-Scared", and other parts of her constituency that are not working families."

The Democrats pander to those receiving welfare benefits. Nonetheless, I must concede that the Republicans also offer welfare benefits--- to rich corporations. Both forms of welfare can cause tremendous damage.

I believe it was Irving Kristol who once said that those receiving welfare benefits should not be allowed to vote. I wholeheartedly agree with this viewpoint.

Posted by: David Thomson on November 12, 2002 08:55 AM

I just have to say the Mr. David Thompson is a breath of fresh air. What an honest, forthright and unabashed Republican. None of this bogus "compassionate conservatism" for him.

Please run for office, David. The GOP needs you. Once people realize that poverty is caused by Democrats they will never vote for them again. I myself had the faulty impression that generational poverty existed even before welfare, social security etc. In fact, I had been under the impression that historically a lot MORE people suffered from poverty than in the US of the last 50 years. But, like all Democrats I did not understand that "all humans are negatively impacted by the at least metaphorical reality of original sin," and that any interference in that process is not only ineffectual but actively exacerbates the problem. Evidently, poverty is worse in America today than it was in 1935. Who knew?

That insight alone is such a sure fire political winner, I think that you could ascend to the highest office one day. Americans are nothing if not believers in the intractability of their station in life. You're on to something. Call Karl Rove. The realignment awaits.

BTW, Mickey Kaus is for universal health care, which can only be advocated as a way to mitigate the "negative impact of original sin" and that is bad. Perhaps you should write him an e-mail and tell him to re-read his Herbert Spencer. That'll get him on the right track.

Posted by: digby on November 12, 2002 10:44 AM

Since when did social security become a welfare program? I thought that this government program is premised upon one earning the benefits.


"...and that any interference in that process is not only ineffectual but actively exacerbates the problem."

I utterly reject radical Darwinian principles.
The ability to make distinctions is the beginning of wisdom. There is nothing wrong with a helping hand, but you need to be careful that the recipient doesn't inadvertently become a parasite.

Mickey Kaus and I agree almost completely regarding welfare reform. What about universal healthcare? I wish to see such a program privatized as much as possible. It must be a sort of insurance program--and not a per se welfare program.

Posted by: David Thomson on November 12, 2002 11:36 AM

NB- "coupon clippers" are rich people, "rentiers" the French would call them, that live off investment income (hence -clipping coupons- from back when bonds were bearer bonds and the holder clipped the coupons and cashed them at the bank).
There are rich nonworking families and poor nonworking families.

Posted by: Josef on November 12, 2002 11:56 AM

"Now the Democratic Party will choose a new parliamentary leader to replace Dick Gephardt. The frontrunner is Nancy Pelosi, who is in the left wing of the party. She is supported by radical Democrats such as Congressman John Conyers, who recently urged her candidacy over Congressman Harold E. Ford, Jr., a moderate. If she moves the party further to the radical left and undoes everything that President Clinton did to move the party to center left, the Democratic Party will truly be undone.

Pelosi should be asked, among a dozen more questions separating moderates from radicals, “do you believe you were right in voting against the welfare reform bill?” and “do you believe you were right in voting against the joint resolution authorizing military action against Iraq?”

God bless America and God help the Democratic Party to recover its place of leadership in the U.S., providing it deserves that help.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ed Koch is the former mayor of New York City"

Posted by: David Thomson on November 12, 2002 02:35 PM

"The Republicans hardly emphasize issues of race. On the contrary, the GOP generally advances color blind policies. It is the Democrats who relish employing the race card. Have we already forgotten the vicious ads during the presidential campaign hinting that George W. Bush was somehow responsible for the murder of a black man?"

Tell it to McCain and then have a pity party for yourself. The point for one trying to do something besides proving themself a partisan hack is that votes are out there for the taking. If Republicans would focus their appeal on the interests of racial and ethnic minorities they would be more successful than they are when they endorse positions such Prop 187. If you have a problem with that point take it up with Mark Racicot. Cheers.

Posted by: archpundit on November 12, 2002 03:01 PM

Make that Marc

Posted by: archpundit on November 12, 2002 03:08 PM

zizka says:

"The majority of the very poor districts listed here are in red Southern and Southwestern states with very stingy welfare policies"

And very rural districts at that. Median salaries will always be low in such regions, simply mecause the majority of employment opportunities gravitate to large urban areas.

I don't foresee a change unless there is significant growth in the number of telecommuting jobs. With PC cameras going down in price, the guy in Uvalde, Texas who wants the monitoring job at the NYC electric plant can interview via streaming video.

"Stingy welfare policies?" Stinginess is being tight with your own money, not somebody else's. The Feds have ample welfare policies, anyway.

Posted by: Alan K. Henderson on November 12, 2002 04:48 PM

My point was that Thomsen's explanation that "welfare causes poverty" did not work at all in two thirds of the cases.

Sure, these are rural districts. But there are a LOT of northern rural districts, only one of which shows up on the list, as I mentioned (and the least-poor of the 50 at that).

Your quibble about the word "stingy" is a waste of time. And even though the money is federal, each state has considerable control of the level of welfare spending in that state.

As I have said twice already, this could have been an interesting thread if people hadn't insisted on picking up the ball and running off the field with it.

Posted by: zizka on November 12, 2002 06:29 PM

Free money and services (welfare) fail to encourage people from getting off the dole. They simply sit on their but and wait for the check to come in. It's somewhat analogous to a spoiled kid refusing to work until the parents kick him out of the house.

Only the first generation of poorly educated immigrants are likely to endure poverty. Their children usually (i.e. Asians) advance quickly to the status of the middle-class. Why do so many native born white and black families remain in poverty? That's easy to answer: they fail to embrace the values of delayed gratification and a work ethic. Black children wishing to work hard in the classroom are often beaten up by their so-called friends. White red necks "ain't got no time for that book learning stuff." Hispanic males usually consider it effeminate to do well in school. What more do you need to know?

Posted by: David Thomson on November 12, 2002 07:46 PM

>> In primaries one is supposed to talk about how one would be a good candidate -- not how other members of your party would be bad candidates.<<

Is that really true? Look at the example of Carl McCall's near disastrous campaign for governor in NY this year, in which a week before the election it looked like he might come in third in spite of Democrats outnumbering Republicans by 5 million to 3 million here. (And third place truly would have been a *disaster*, because the Dems would have lost all their influence [and thousands of patronage jobs] on all local election boards state-wide, control of which is divided among the "top two" parties receiving gubernatorial votes.)

Immediately after McCall received his nomination his campaign sank beneath the waves when the Repubs revealed the fact that as State Controller he had written 61 letters (count 'em) on his official state office stationary asking firms to which he was giving state business to hire various family members, friends and associates in jobs. "Dear Merrill Lynch, I am pleased to place $500 million of state retirement funds with you to manage. Enclosed find a resume..." Literally. (I mean, all influential politicians manage to place family members in good jobs with a wink and a nod -- but 61 letters on state letterhead does not score high on the politicians' IQ scale.) Also, other campaign claims he had made, such as that he had grown up in public housing, turned out to be bogus, and so on.

Soon after, Andrew Cuomo, whom McCall had beaten for the nomination, complained bitterly that *he* hadn't been able to go negative on McCall because a NY Democrat can't go negative on a minority candidate rival (McCall is African-American) in a primary without splitting the NY party, assuring his own defeat in the general election if he gets there, and destroying his own future in the party because of the ethnic resentments. The fate of the defeated Mark Green in the prior year's mayor election in NYC (where Dems outnumber Repubs 5 to 1) being an object lesson on this.

So this would seem to be a case where one candidate was indeed limited to saying that he would be a good candidate and prevented from saying the other would be a bad candidate -- which enabled the other, who was indeed a very bad candidate, to get a free pass unexamined into the general election, where he proved a near calamity for the party.

BTW, fair warning: If the philosophy of ethnic entitlement captures the national Democratic Party they way it has the NY party, the Republicans are likely to hold power for the next 50 years. In spite of the huge edge in numbers that the Dems have here, they haven't been able to elect either a governor or mayor of NYC in 12 years, or to come close in a decade. These last two elections show reason #1.

Posted by: Jim Glass on November 12, 2002 08:13 PM

Trying to ignore the troll....

I find the work of Kevin Phillips more convincing than Lakoff's "moral politics." Both agree that there's little correlation between income and voting patterns, but Phillips provides a much better explanation of why in his last few books (Wealth and Democracy, The Cousins' Wars, and The Politics of Rich and Poor). Phillips also gets some props for predicting the politics of the 1980s correctly in the mid-70s. :D

I'm not sure if he's explicitly pointed out a thesis for these books, but here's my take on them.

a) The political conflicts of the United States are rooted in a recurring cycle of old money (decaying industries and modes of production, combined with a populist cultural streak) fighting a rearguard action against new money (technology, often driven by lots of government "access" or bribery, combined with a focus on "new" culture). For example, the Republicans were the party of new money in the time of McKinley, but the Democrats were the party of new money in the 1930s, 1960s, and 1990s.

(Before any conservatives go apeshit about that 1990s bit, I'm talking about the makeup of party members and donors, which is pretty incontrovertible. Policy effects are more arguable. "1990s technology money" also doesn't mean CEOs, either; I'd say it's idempotent to Judis and Teixeira's stuff on professionals.)

b) Traces of the cultural and political fault lines of the English Civil War are *still* visible today.

c) Waves of immigration have provided new power blocs at regular intervals. These immigrant groups have shown little signs of fundamental philosophical change, even over timespans of 100 years or more.

Of these, The Cousins' Wars is flat-out the best political book I've read. It's fascinating, no matter your politics.

Posted by: Jason McCullough on November 12, 2002 08:16 PM

>> Since when did social security become a welfare program? I thought that this government program is premised upon one earning the benefits.... <<
>> Free money and services (welfare) fail to encourage people from getting off the dole. They simply sit on their but and wait for the check to come in.<<

I once saw Daniel Patrick Moynihan give an eloquent and persuasive explanation of why Social Security succeeded as an income transfer to the poor while welfare failed as an income transfer to the poor.

That being, in simplest terms, Social Security was paid only after one spent 30 or 40 years working, which forced its recipients to learn the skills and accept the responsibilities that are necessary to lead a middle class life; while welfare too often was paid to people before they ever worked, and sheltered too many from ever learning the skills or accepting the responsibilities necessary to join the bourgeoisie in middle class life.

Posted by: Jim Glass on November 12, 2002 08:40 PM

"BTW, fair warning: If the philosophy of ethnic entitlement captures the national Democratic Party they way it has the NY party, the Republicans are likely to hold power for the next 50 years."

Yup, the Republicans have little to worry about. Race card politics is a sure fire loser. This is especially true because so many of the so-called ethinic minorities increasingly see themselves as members of the middle class. I found it fascinating that the Texas Democrats did so poorly in the most recent election. Even the Hispanics did not go out of their way to vote for Tony Sanchez--and he spent around $50 million dollars of his own money. I think that "The Emerging Democratic Majority" by John B. Judis and Ruy Teixeira is an indulgence in pure fantasy.

Nancy Polosi will soon become the head of the Democrats in the US Congress. Did you say fifty years? How about one hundred?

Posted by: David Thomson on November 12, 2002 08:45 PM

And I hear the 2004 Dem convention will probably be in Boston. Yeah, that will appeal to Middle America.

Posted by: Alan K. Henderson on November 12, 2002 08:56 PM

In my experience growing up in the poorest Northern rural Congressional district (Minnesota 9), I did not see the pathologies usually associated with poverty such as crime and lack of access to education. Why is this? Well, Minnesota is a very liberal welfare state. And there is a strong cultural and historical egalitarian ethic in the area, even among Republicans.

Discuss.

Posted by: zizka on November 12, 2002 09:15 PM

My guess is that Minnesota highly Lutheran/Catholic work ethic did not permit people to mooch off the system. This makes all the difference.

The government program of assisting veterans after W.W.II to attend college was very successful. Once again, we are talking about individuals with a relentless work ethic. There is nothing wrong with offering a helping hand--as long as you are not unwittingly encouraging dependency and laziness. Much of the destruction caused by the Liberals in the last 40 years is due to their tacit, if not explicit, antagonism toward the virtues which are mandatory to sustain a viable social order.

By the way, much of this tragedy is due to the assassination of John F. Kennedy. This allowed LBJ to fund seemingly every radical Liberal social group throughout the country. The Kennedy brothers were adamant about welfare recipients being compelled to work.

Posted by: David Thomson on November 13, 2002 02:38 AM

I just found this article by Timothy Noah a few minutes ago on Slate.com:

“Chatterbox has no projections to offer (though he'd guess that the big decline in the nation's manufacturing sector has already occurred). But he does fear for the future of a Democratic Party whose attractions are evident only if you're on the dole or have three advanced degrees. If the Democrats were to cease even aspiring to be the party of the working man, it wouldn't seem to have much point.”

http://slate.msn.com/?id=2073887

Posted by: David Thomson on November 13, 2002 02:58 AM

zizka: OK, interesting question. The reading I have done about welfare indicates that it becomes a major social problem when a significant portion of a population comes to depend on it (the Tipping Point concept is probably useful here). Perhaps welfare recipients in your hometown district were few enough that they did not split off into a separate and isolated class? Another proposal would be that it takes time for an underclass of welfare recipients to develop and in your youth enough time had not elapsed (don't know your age, so...), but given sufficient time, such problems would develop? I don't wish to discount cultural explanations but the two ideas above might also be useful.

Posted by: JT on November 13, 2002 07:27 AM

Getting back to the topic at hand...

The common conception that rich people are Republican and working class people are Democrat has never been completely true. The Democrats have certainly done better for wealthy people over the years, though not in a way the GOP admits; reducing tarrifs cuts costs, paring down the Reagan Debt lowers taxes, etc.

A better paradigm: Liberals are defined by who they love. Conservatives are defined by who they hate. This thread is a bit of an example of that.

Posted by: Dave Romm on November 13, 2002 09:35 AM

I left there 40 years ago but I still have family there. There's no evidence of an increased problem that I know of.

People there do not respect people on welfare unless they're clearly disabled. The culture is strongly against it. But institutionally Minnesota is pretty liberal.

Someone might pop up talking about how awful things are there -- my brother-in-law does, but he's an idiot -- but it will be anecdotal.


Posted by: zizka on November 13, 2002 12:12 PM

as to why rich can be dems...

it's a stasist (as in preferring stasis, being static or immovable) outlook. Corzine made all his money off of government regulation (as janegalt.net mentioned, which may be removed due to a new position, investment banking is not really worth $1M per hour) of the investment industry and requirements to use ibankers... you see the same thing in the trial laywers (edwards) where repubs (or some) want to get rid of the regs that people feed off of as they are a drag on the economy (all the smart people who are lawyers, accountants, and ibankers are not productive members of society, they are just grease for the system)

the greates class hatreed is against the bourgeoisie: the graspers and climbers who are trying to improve their lives. The aristocrats and the proles both hate them (albeit for different reasons) and want to see them fail. We should not be surprised that this has resulted in political alliance.

As for ADM and the rest of the welfare bums... they're equal opportunity donors, as they care more about access and protecting the subsidy than any partisan issue (Jim Jeffords bolted the repubs to SAVE the vermont milk subsidy, which screws over the poor for the benefit of farmers, with the most benefits going to the largest farmers)

as for social... it isn't earned, it's welfare, as it's paid out of current spending, it just has different eligibility rules than other programs. BTW why isn't there a clawback?? seems stupid that Jack Welch collects social (though I guess it helps keep alive the fiction that it's an investment vehicle)

Posted by: Libertarian Uber Alles on November 13, 2002 09:01 PM

Would you care to comment on the Sowell claim
that liberals tend to "create" affluent cities?

http://www.townhall.com/columnists/thomassowell/ts20021114.shtml

Posted by: Melcher on November 14, 2002 04:00 AM

Thomas Sowell's article highlights the frequent unintended consequences of Liberal policies. San Francisco was never supposed to be a city for only the wealthy. Should I take for granted that everybody has seen the "Dirty Harry" movies made some thirty years ago? There is no doubt that the San Francisco Liberals of that era would have been outraged had anyone predicted the current situation.

Posted by: David Thomson on November 14, 2002 11:46 AM

Gosh, do the conservative Republicans dominate the political landscape of New England? I must indeed be a total moron for I never had the foggiest notion. Whatever happened to that arch-conservative Jim Jeffords? How are those price supports for the milk industry working out? Have you starved out those disgusting poor families who can't afford to buy milk in your area of the country? Did Dirty Harry ever kick ass in Vermont? I might have missed that movie.

Posted by: David Thomson on November 14, 2002 08:30 PM

According to (Krugman of Indiana U ? I only saw it briefly on tv) The wealthiest 1% of US families own more than 40 % of the total wealth of the US. Further, the wealth is further concentrated in about 13000 families. And total wealth is about $40 tillion today.

Has any politician stood up and said flat out: "I will tax wealth"? If so, he or she should be drafted by the Democrats and nominated for president.

Posted by: G. Flynn on December 16, 2002 08:56 AM

Total personal wealth is about $38 trillion, and the top 10% of households own about 70% of it. A 1% tax on the wealth of the top 10% of households would bring in about $266 billion. This is approximately the same amount that is collected by the wage tax (social security).

Posted by: on December 27, 2002 09:36 AM
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