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Tuesday, November 26, 2013


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Iowa and Minnesota are the two states in the Midwest with the lowest percentage of black population. They also have a lower percentage of their population that is hispanic than Indiana or Wisconsin (though a bit more than Michigan, which missed out on Latino migration because its economy has been poor for a long time).

Race is the elephant in the room. It's easy to look good on these metrics in a bifurcated economy when you've got lots of privileged white people, especially when more educated and concentrated in an urban area like Minnesota. Give those states similar racial makeups and population distributions, and see how they fare.

I also notice that such liberal paradises as Rhode Island seldom feature in these analyses, nor another state overwhelmingly controlled by Democrats: West Virginia.

A flawed metric, I’m afraid. Race and per capita income have less to do with each other than you assume.

The state with the highest per capita income, Maryland, also is the fourth leading state in black population. The second highest income is in Alaska, which doesn’t have much population at all. This third highest is New Jersey, which is 15th in black population. The fifth highest income is in the District of Columbia, which is 50% black, by far the highest among the state. Virginia and Delaware rank in the top ten states in both income and black population. Minnesota is 31st in black population, at 4.57 percent of its population, while Wisconsin is 30th, with 6.07% -- not exactly a blinding difference.

In other words, go figure. Yes, African-Americans generally have lower incomes, which will skew state figures somewhat. But these figures, for income and other metrics, are so all over the map that it’s glib, to put it politely, to make race the determining factor, even in the South, where race only compounds a burden of other problems.

Yes, I left out Rhode Island and West Virginia. The blog was about the Midwest and, even on our greediest days, I don’t think we can claim these worthy jurisdictions for our very own.

I hesitate to wade in among the giants, but . . .

I wonder whether there is some combination of race and conservatism that predicts low public investment and low incomes. I expect it's easier to get the citizens on board when they feel that public investment is for "us" than when they feel public investment is for "them." What those investments look like will hinge on the civic sense of who populates the "us" and "them" categories.

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