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The Real Cost of Family Values? Rightist States, Leftist Problems and Failed Economies

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The family values debate never ceases to amaze me. During my recent kick to prove that every single facet of American politics is rooted in economics, I stumbled across a very interesting article from The Washington Times, which, in detailing differences in family norms on a state to state basis, brought to light some surprising trends. It is a universally known fact that the residents right-leaning states champion traditional morals for social policy. Their left-leaning counterparts, obviously, tend to go in the opposite direction. Nonetheless, supposedly rightist states have the highest rates of societal problems of a decidedly leftist nature.

What? It’s true. Left-leaning states are home to large numbers of America’s financially secure, sufficiently educated, highly cultured, and electorally modern liberal families. Right-leaning ones harbor the bulk of the country’s out of wedlock births, low education rates, poorly paying jobs, forced situational marriages and gender imbalances in the family structure. It is a deeply ironic twist that the very places which vote for a certain set of values practice the precise opposite.

Why on earth is this? Nobody seems to be quite sure of that. This is a quagmire that has social scientists of every political stripe wondering exactly what is going on, with no consensus in sight. Going back to my economic argument, there is little question that those in dire straits tend to be self-destructive. This may be the result of low self-esteem or a loss of hope for the future. Perhaps either of these explain why so many struggling social rightists are social rightists in the first place; they are simply frustrated people.

If they are extremely unhappy with their own lives, they have no problem venting their anger toward perceived social minorities who serve as scapegoats. The fact that many of these rightists do not live up to their own standards is unimportant. The standards in question are merely symbolic guidelines, and are not meant to be attainable in any practical sense, but instead serve as pastures for said scapegoats. This, of course, creates the necessary scenario for the rightists to release their misguided anger.

Realistically speaking, they should become mainstream fiscal conservatives and focus their frustrations on saner targets. These are the trade policies which have sent so many of their manufacturing jobs overseas. In retail, Walmart and the other big box retail raiders cannot be given an easy pass for their key roles in savaging the that industry. Even under the best of circumstances, a future in whicht blue collar employment will return to the United States en masse is all but impossible. However, future damage can be prevented, and most importantly, domestic market growth incentivized.

Frankly, the cash strapped rightists should stop picketing the women’s health centers, engaging in nonsensical anti-gay protests and voting for the scheming politicians who profit from their misery. They should instead read about the actual reasons why their paychecks are getting smaller, along with an ever shorter list of benefits and pensions that will shrink to micro size before they have the opportunity to collect. Will they focus on the side of facts and figures? Or will they just go after another strange group that has absolutely nothing to do with their problems?

Only they, on an individual level, know the answer.

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About Joseph F. Cotto

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Joseph –

    Actually, there is a very real reason why right-leaning states have the most such problems…and it has little to do with politics. I pointed out this dichotomy a couple years back as an attack on the policies of the Right, saying that if the Right’s policies were so much better for society, then the people in red states wouldn’t be having a higher degree of those problems. Clavos pointed out the logical error in my attack…and so I thought about it and realized my error…

    …which was that it has very little to do with politics, and everything to do with level of urbanization – and this is true regardless of nation or culture.

    For all their problems, urban areas invariably attract the best universities, the factories, the major media. Every bit as importantly, people in urban areas are exposed to a much wider sampling of races, religions, ethnicities, languages, cultures – and the increased range of experience includes music and the other arts.

    Not for nothing is there the traditional view of the provincial rube as compared to the urbanite! This is not to say that one is better than the other by any means, but the urbanite will almost always have a much broader cultural range of experience and is more likely to have a higher level of education…and please bear in mind that I say this as someone who grew up waaaaay out in the sticks – my graduating class was a whopping 42 kids. And if someone was from Somewhere Else, well, they were generally not to be trusted!

    And this dichotomy is not limited to America, but is found wherever there is humanity – the greater the level of urbanization, the greater the cultural range of experience (and general level of education) of the residents therein.

    And that begs the question, then, of why it is that more urbanized areas are blue, and rural areas red? I’ve come to understand that the politics do not make the region, but the region makes the politics. The more urbanized an area, the greater the level of awareness of the locals of the need for those social programs so despised by the conservatives. And you’ll find the same differences in any corner of the world – with allowances for religion and cultural mores, of course. For instance, even in Saudi Arabia, if I were a betting man, I’d bet quite heavily that there’s significant differences between their local perceptions of ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’…and that those differences could be easily delineated along the level of urbanization of the areas in question!

    The politics don’t make the region, but the region makes the politics…and the more diversity-aware and the more educated a population is, the bluer they will generally be. And even though I am quite Christian, I believe the same argument could easily be made on levels of religious influence on the population.

    I know that all this might be offensive to conservatives who read it, but no offense is meant.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/joseph-cotto/ Joseph Cotto

    Glenn,

    I do believe that your idea about urbanization resulting in comprehensive social development is spot on. Regions indeed do make politics, but due to ever changing emigration patterns, the face of a region can change very quickly. I found nothing offensive in the least about your commentary; the popular sayings about cosmopolitan snobs and rural hayseeds are very often grounded in fact.

  • Cannonshop

    Could it be that the phenomena is an example of people “Wanting” those things (stable families, good education, civil society), but not HAVING them?