Tip 31: Naming Winners and Losers in the Economic-Culture Wars

The Great Recession defined a tipping point, politically and economically.  Brookings notes that between 2008 and 2018, the economic performance of congressional districts labeled “Blue” diverged at a breathtaking pace from those labeled “Red,” given America’s fast-paced “winner-take-most” society.

Intuitively, one expects economic scarcity to drive working-class voters in the direction of social and economic reform.  Not so in reality, however.  Stagnation in Red districts, with high concentrations of voters “underwater” economically, fosters right-leaning dominance on culture war-issues, race and immigration included.

Economic shifts are driving huge shifts in political party identity, Brookings observes.  Consider the following:

  • Over the decade, Republicans controlled an increasing share of political geography, rural and ex-urban. They controlled a decreasing share of American prosperity, however.
  • Urban-based Blues are expanding domination of professional jobs and jobs in digital services. Rural and exurban-based Reds on the other hand are extending their reach into traditional jobs in agriculture, mining and manufacturing.
  • Increasing worker productivity tends to drive increasing incomes. Productivity doesn’t advance much in traditional industries that tend toward low-productivity, however.  Not so for jobs centered in urban areas in high demand fields including professional and digital services.
  • Given widespread productivity growth in Blue congressional districts, median household income in those districts shot up 13 percent in the ten-year period ending in 2018. Not so for Red districts where median household income declined about 4 percent.
  • Gross Domestic Product has grown a full one-third in Blue-leaning congressional districts since 2008, whereas GDP growth has turned negative in Red-leaning districts, falling almost 2 percent.
  • By 2018, the share of total Gross Domestic Product created in congressional districts held by Democrats reached 64 percent, vs. 36 percent in Republican-held districts. America is on-track soon to reach an economic outcome in which only one-third of GDP is created in Republican districts.
  • In comparison with Red districts, voters in Blue districts are strikingly better educated and more diverse. Bachelor’s degree attainment since 2008 has risen 25 percent.  Not so for Red districts where college attainment barely increased.
  • Rural and ex-urban districts have higher concentrations of older, whiter, less diverse male workers who gravitate toward employment in traditional industries offering lackluster incomes.

What then of America’s future; cultural, economic and otherwise?  Politically, Democratic Party economic successes and Republican Party economic losses point to more polarization ahead.  Therefore, Brookings’ authors offer little hope of  an early turnaround in America’s economic and culture wars.

Please stay tuned.  More to come on this topic.

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Brookings

Module 30 Grandpa’s Conclusion, It’s (NOT) Impossible: In our last episode, Professor Robinson was reflecting on how to make capitalism great again…concluding…America must get its plow horse…too-long sidelined as a hobby horse…back into the field.

Module 29 Make Capitalism Great Again: Our trio exits the film…Night of the Living Dead … mumbling something about food cravings…zombie-style.

Module 27 Who Caused the Great Recession: This episode begins with Adam Smith placing a call to fellow zombie economist Jeremy Bentham…now residing in Truthiness City.  Bentham…wary of liberals…had accepted part-time work at the university there…

Module 26 Grandpa Loses His Beard:  …according to our newest zombie…the paradigms…narratives…even stories…used to explain how the world works…ought to be scrutinized…shaken down…at times…shaken up…even…to assure accuracy…to assure integrity with reality…with whatever may be the actual way our world has come…