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Economic Opportunity Is Lowest In the Republican Bible Belt, Major Study Finds

Class-rigidity is most extreme in the South, according to leading Harvard and Berkeley economists.

The website was established this year by four leading economists from Harvard and Berkeley, and it now headlines their major findings, “Mobility in the 100 Largest Commuting Zones.” It ranks all 100 largest U.S. cities for the chances of a person born poor to rise from the bottom 20% to the top 20%.

Whereas all of the top 21 cities (NYC being ranked #21) are shown clustered there closely around 10% for the given place’s odds that a resident born in the bottom 20% will rise into the top 20%, all except just four of the bottom 21 cities are in Old Dixie. Here, the probabilities of rising from the bottom 20% to the top 20% range widely, between just 6.7% (one-third less than in the best locales) down to merely 2.6% (around one-quarter of the probability in the best locales), among these 21 bottom-ranked cities. 

In other words: virtually all of this nation’s class-rigidity still remains in the U.S. South, even after the Civil War. New Dixie has replaced the aristocracy’s black slaves of Old Dixie, by the local (white) aristocracy’s institutionalized bigotry against poor people, now of all ethnic groups. What used to be their purely racist bigotry has, it seems, devolved into a crushing, pervasive, classist, bigotry in the South. 

Explaining this would produce controversy, and unfortunately the researchers don’t even try. However, it is a striking finding, which demands an explanation.

For a century after Abraham Lincoln was shot in 1865, the North’s Protestant aristocracy increasingly supported the Republican Party, which gradually became, in a sense, the new version of the old aristocratic Southern Democratic Party, but now spread nationwide: oriented more toward concerns about the “free market” than about democracy. Government became subordinated to economics—not just any economics, but “free market” economics, whereas economics had virtually nothing to do with the U.S. Constitution, which was instead concerned with political matters: government.

With the advent of Democratic President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and his “New Deal” reforms and regulations during the Great Depression, and his starting of the Social Security system, this aristocratic hostility toward the Democratic Party intensified even more.

In FDR’s re-nomination acceptance speech in 1936, he said, “Economic royalists complain that we seek to overthrow the institutions of America. What they really complain of is that we seek to take away their power. Our allegiance to American institutions requires the overthrow of this kind of power. In vain they seek to hide behind the flag and the Constitution.” This was a speech that could be given today.

Then, as if to add insult to Protestant aristocratic outrage, the Catholic Democratic President John F. Kennedy finally committed the Democratic Party against the unquestionably bigoted South; and next, the remarkably progressive Democratic Texan President Lyndon Baines Johnson fatefully sealed this FDR-type Democratic Party, with the Civil Rights Acts, and also Medicare and Medicaid —all done to serve mainly the very same people, the middle-class and the poor, whom aristocrats traditionally have wanted instead to be suppressed, if not again enslaved (such as was the case in the Old South). For example, labor unions are routinely suppressed by aristocrats, because such unions challenge the "free market”— they challenge aristocrats’ hired managers, who no longer possess unrestrained control when a labor union is present. 

Aristocrats call this "free market" of theirs simply “freedom,” meaning their own freedom, but also meaning (though never mentioning) the “freedom” of millions of have-nots to suffer unto their graves (via such class-rigidity as prevails especially in the South, and in underdeveloped countries around the world). These financial elite also sometimes call this free-market economics “tough love.” But no matter what the rationalization, the result for its victims is basically like a kiss of death; this is more that type of “love,” even when the proponents themselves actually sincerely believe it to be some sort of “love,” for the people who are actually suffering from this one-sided “freedom” of the aristocracy.

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