I've been looking at the above maps for the last 24 hours or so trying to come up with a cogent analysis.
If you take a look you see that the real strong widespread economic areas are in the Upper Midwest. (And of corse the coasts.) What explains this virulent fecundity? You also see that the Midwest prosperity lines up with the Cook PVI (Partisan Voting Index) map of the last election, a map with more blue than typifies the last forty years.
If you've traveled widely and you are from the Midwest you find that is quite against people's deeply ingrained expectations. This map doesn't just measure economics, it measures education and health too.
Sure there is no wealth like you find in Miami, LA, or NYC up here, but what there is is a shared affluence and a strong middle class. A few years ago I could have invested anywhere in the country, and after looking around I came back here and put all my money on the I-29 corridor. If you are looking for a place to put your business, to invest in property, or to do some banking, you might want to call Sioux Falls. There's a lot of things going on here that have created a perfect storm for investment opportunity.
Back in 2010 when I was working in politics the data was already there. During the recession we sat here and watched many job losses, but what we didn't have was lingering problems and we didn't have the crush to the housing market.
In that year, I'm going to try to get this right, of the top ten lowest unemployment rates in America 6 were in SD, IA, WY, and ND. Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Fargo, Aimes, Cedar Rapids, Cheyenne (?), and one other. Can't remember. If you draw a map you will find Sioux Falls, SD in the geographic center of that phenomena.
This year South Dakota was named CNBCs best state for business and Barron's best run state government. Sioux Falls (beaten by Plano, Tx) was #2 on the best places to raise a family, and Omaha was on another list up near the top. I believe Forbes named Sioux Falls #1 best small paces for business and careers and Fargo was #2.
The maps of poverty from 2000 and 2010 show that through the worst recession in most people's lifetimes, things held together best in the Upper Midwest, and fell apart in the South.
After thinking about these maps and how I have pathologically avoided the area between Florida and say Iowa, I seriously get the heebie jeebies everytime I'm in the South, it's doesn't even feel like America there, I understand that before I knew these things I knew these things.
So we see that in terms of the nations red states, we have the largest geographical area of prosperity in the north and by far the greatest concentration of poverty in all it's forms in the south.
Now the last four or so years have seen a massive retrenchment of conservative politics, and in the north that was very much started as a fiscal conservative movement. Fiscal conservativism still predominates the views here, although in the last two years great strides have been taken by the easier to understand social conservative movements. Social conservative issues are tradition based, emotional, and can be understood by pretty much any idiot, which does make the job of building a social conservative movement markedly easier: no exasperating attempts to explain tax policy needed.
Notice that in the areas of the country where social conservative values do most especially now, but always have predominated, you find the greatest concentrations of poverty and ignorance, places where people are doing the worst over large expanses of land.
Above we find the map of alcohol laws, places where there are restrictions on alcohol. You can see they overlap almost entirely with the areas that are doing the worst, areas that are strong social conservative states.
What is the difference between social and fiscal conservatives besides one being about your bedroom and the other your wallet? It's pretty simple really.
Social conservatives believe in strict rules governing people's personal lives, legislating "morality", and of course there's always that law and order punishment thing. But really what social conservatives are about is more controls and restrictions on people. Social conservatives actually favor BIGGER government, more government involvement in your life. And they have the belief that restrictions are necessary to provide the best outcomes. They believe in using force to make you better. Clearly the Bible Belt has very little in the way of positive outcomes to show for the institutionalization of it's beliefs.
One definite trend in Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota that we have seen really staring around 2004, and becoming stark with the rise of the Tea Party as a social conservative movement (after starting as a fiscal conservative movement) is the growing spread of blue on the Cook map. No where has this been as true as in Minnesota in the last four years where after a huge GOP victory in 2010, winning on fiscal values, the party turned like a rabid dog on it's master, going after gay marriage, bringing abortion and immigration to the front of the party. Minnesotans don't respond well to lying, so long as their "revenge" can be conducted in secret...you know like a voting booth.
Fiscal conservatives on the other hand favor freedom, less restrictions on your wallet, more liberty, and less government involvement. Quite the opposite of social conservatives, which doesn't seem like it's true because in America we think of them as going together. What I'm getting at here is that fiscal conservative values create prosperity and social conservative values create poverty. Sure other things create poverty, but force based restrictive tradition based control regimes like you find in the south don't have a track record of creating progress. Quite the opposite for fiscal values.
What will it take for the republicans to keep the good and jettison the bad? I don't know. The same could be asked of the democrats. I have said for years that there is no philosophically consistent practically tested and proved political party to belong to in this country. It's still true.
Moreover, there's no way to be politically aligned with a party, any party, in this country and at the same time be in harmony with the highest principles. Principles of virulent fecundity that make things grow, that make people grow and provide happy live
However, we have this type of data which we can use as teaching points, and maybe we can break through with some understanding for people left in the morass of ignorance and stubborness. When I look at the map, and I see that representation of suffering, I think, "what the hell has to change to get some leadership down there?" There's no esy answer to that, as long as any issuance of truth is an a front to Jesus.
Updated: July 14, 2014. Social mobility map. As you can see from above the Upper Midwest also is home to the greatest (upward) social mobility potentials in America, and again we see that the reverse is true in the South.
And lastly, the political corruption map. Remember these are corruption convictions and not actual corruption.
As you can see SD scores in the top ten, which along with MT and ND might throw a wrench in my theory. I agree that's a possibility, but I would bet dollars to donuts that those corruption convictions are overwhelmingly confined to six SD counties ; the Native American Reservations, where federal dollars flow in to local governments rife with abuse and corruption. Moreover, those areas receive a great deal of FBI scrutiny, meaning that corruption charges are more likely to be filed in the first place.
As for statewide corruption, it's been a long time since I remember a big corruption story in SD government.