Credentialism and Corruption: Deaton on Opioids, Trump (and What Does “Rural” Mean?)

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Angus Deaton, co-author with Anne Case of the important study on excess white working class mortality, has been much in the news lately. Yves posted on Deaton’s remarks at the recent Allied Social Sciences Associations meeting, but now Deaton has presented at Davos — good luck to him getting their attention! — and here’s the key portion of his interview with Business Insider:

He told Business Insider in an interview at the World Economics Forum in Davos that there is a 0.4 correlation between US counties with elevated mortality rates for white people and counties that voted for Trump.

“If you take county by county in the US, and you look at what we call deaths of despair — suicides, opioids and liver disease — that it correlates by .4 with votes for Trump. That’s a big correlation. There are 3,000 counties in the US. .4 with these things is a very strong relationship,” Deaton told us.

In stats, 1 is a perfect correlation and 0 is no correlation at all; 0.4 is a fairly strong relationship in a dataset that size.[1] The stats suggest that Trump somehow tapped into white despair among voters.

There are caveats, of course.

“You can put almost anything in that picture, smoking, lack of exercise … but I do think there is a lot of malaise going on here. Whatever it is these people are unhappy, they’re left behind, some of their jobs have gone away, they’re worse off than their parents were, they’re worried about opportunities for their kids.”

“Causality in these things is always hard.”

Deaton’s caveats are, of course, becoming in a scholar.[2] But I think the anecdotal evidence is quite clear. “Deaths from despair” are Chris Arnade[3] territory; see his tweetstorm starting here:

And including:

And much else; despair is Arnade’s beat, you might say.

But back to the county data. There’s another correlation at play, presented well by RealClearPolitics in its “How Trump Won” on the 2016 election, and perhaps best presented visually to begin with. This is the Democrats’ normalized vote share in 1996, 2004, 2012, and 2016 (reading left to right, by row) in Iowa, where Democrats are blue and Republicans are red:

And RCP summarizes:

The result is a creeping “redness” across the map, as the Democratic coalition is pushed gradually eastward, before retreating almost entirely to a few small cities and college towns.

(RCP presents similar maps for Minnesota, Michigan, and Ohio, and the same trend appears there as well.)

Now, I freely admit that it’s a stretch to identity RCP’s “red shift” county data with Deaton’s county data, showing “despair,” and identifying both with counties that voted for Trump (by “knocking over the checkers board,”as Arnade puts it). So let’s just say that I’m creating a narrative, analysis to come.

That said, can we think of any reasons beyond despair why rural voters might vote red (and not blue)? I think we can, if we look at the role that urban credentialed professionals and institutions play. In “Credentialism and Corruption: The Opioid Epidemic and ‘the Looting Professional Class'” I wrote:

CEOs, marketing executives, database developers, marketing collateral designers, the sales force, middle managers of all kinds, and doctor: All these professions are highly credentialed. And all have, or should have, different levels of responsibility for the mortality rates from the opoid epidemic; executives have fiduciary responsibility; doctors take the Hippocratic Oath; those highly commissioned sales people knew or should have known what they were selling. Farther down the line, to a database designer, OXYCONTIN_DEATH_RATE might be just another field. Or not! And due to information asymmetries in corporate structures, the different professions once had different levels of knowledge. For some it can be said they did not know. But now they know; the story is out there. As reader Clive wrote:

Increasingly, if you want to get and hang on to a middle class job, that job will involve dishonesty or exploitation of others in some way.

And you’ve got to admit that serving as a transmission vector for an epidemic falls into the category of “exploitation of others.”

And I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to think that red-shift voters would identify Clinton’s base in the urban, professional classes with the very same people responsible for the opioid epidemic that was killing their families. Consciously? I don’t know. Viscerally? I’d bet on it.

* * *

Oh, I did say “What Does ‘Rural’ Mean?” I’ll just toss this idea out as another layer of narrative, but I think it woud be an interesting mental exercise to replace “rural” with “colonized” in our thinking; a famous example of the metropolis colonizing the periphery is the Opium Wars. A splendid example of rental extraction, opium was; until the reaction came.

NOTES

[1] Statistics geeks please correct “very strong” if necessary (even if that’s the sort of thing Deaton shouldn’t get wrong).

[2] In a perfect world, I’d look at “deaths of despair” in the counties that flipped from Obama in 2008 and 2012 — that is, the counties that in the last analysis cost Clinton the election. Perhaps in a later post!

[3] Arnade recently participated in a panel at Bard titled “”Beyond Despair: Articulating a Bold, Progressive Vision for the 21st Century Economy” — with MMTer Pavlina Tcherneva!

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.

64 comments

  1. Anon

    RE: “Rural”

    Is this term being equated with an agricultural area. Iowa may be relatively sparsely populated but it’s hardly “rural”, if folks are lamenting the loss of manufacturing jobs. A city of some sort must be nearby.

    1. Jerry

      Iowa not rural? That’s news to me. My county has a population of 7,000. It’s both agricultural and home to factories.

      1. Anon

        What factories? Farm equipment? Population of a county isn’t much of a rural indicator if the county is small in acreage. My question is: are these folks that are voting Red more than Blue actually a large percentage of the population and dismayed at the loss of THEIR manufacturing job. (Or are they small farmers that can’t seem to compete with Big Ag, see a bleak future, and want someone to do SOMETHING.) Dissatisfaction coupled with poor political choices will lead to disaster.

        1. Orin T

          ” My question is: are these folks that are voting Red more than Blue actually a large percentage of the population and dismayed at the loss of THEIR manufacturing job. (Or are they small farmers that can’t seem to compete with Big Ag, see a bleak future, and want someone to do SOMETHING.”

          My answer: What is the difference?

    2. PKMKII

      Does not necessarily need to be “city.” Just area with easy access to major highway and sufficient infrastructure. Thinking, RCA in Bloomington, IN, before the plant got moved to Mexico; sub-100k population town, even smaller when the IU students aren’t around. Workers didn’t all live in said college town; rather, disbursed in the low-density rural areas surrounding it.

      1. Anon

        Okay, so that’s Indiana. Iowa doesn’t seem to have any large metropolis other than Des Moines. (Ames is essentially a college town.) While agriculture seems to dominate (spatially) in Iowa, the state is not “rural”, like say Nevada. Where were all the lost manufacturing jobs for the Iowans?

        1. Jen

          I moved away from Iowa 20 years ago and was shocked to discover when I moved back that towns along the Mississippi (which used to be quite industrial) have since been decimated. See Chris Arnade’s twitter feed on Dubuque, for example.

    3. cocomaan

      My definition of rural that comes from living in a community that works this way is “does not have its own police force.” That is, besides a county sheriff, it relies on state police (I’m sure there are areas out in the west with lots of public land where they rely more on federal officers instead).

    4. Chris

      The official modern census definition is any county which does not contain a city of 50,000 people or more and is not adjacent to one. The official term is “non-metropolitan.” Obviously it’s not perfect.

  2. Matthew G. Saroff

    So to simplify your analysis, hopefully not overly so, your thesis is that the new Trump voters voted for Trump because the Clinton voters were murdering them.

    Or maybe slaughtering, in the sense of a meat packing plant, might be a better term,

    1. jrs

      “Farther down the line, to a database designer, OXYCONTIN_DEATH_RATE might be just another field. Or not! And due to information asymmetries in corporate structures, the different professions once had different levels of knowledge. For some it can be said they did not know. But now they know; the story is out there.”

      People have argued the back and forth on whether the database designers are morally responsible. Doing what Lambert wants them to do might not just be moral though but ILLEGAL. Or I sure as heck wouldn’t do it in many cases without consulting a lawyer. As many jobs have privacy and non-disclosure agreements that the employees will have signed that would outright prohibit this disclosure even AFTER the employee has quit. Whether this is enforceable I don’t know, nooone in their right mind would defy it without first consulting a lawyer though.

      An employee is always free to quit an unethical job (though that means unemployment) but they are not always free to disclose information.

      1. jrs

        I assume Lambert wants them to whistleblow, but like I said they probably signed contracts that forbid disclosing any information like that that they learned as part of employment, and the duration of the contract is forever, not just “while employed”. So free to quit, but anything else requires legal consultation.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        Yes, we’ve had this discussion. Clerks kept account books for the Opium Wars, after all. And the slave trade.

        I’m not sure I want them to do anything more than self-reflect. What follows from that, well….

        1. F. Korning

          Criminal law trumps civil law. No contract can muzzle one from speaking out against recklessly dangerous or potential criminal liability. In fact we all carry a civic duty to transparency on issues of public safety.

        2. fresno dan

          What it reminds me so much of is the big real estate grift. So many supposed rules, regulations, laws written into loans and transactions surrounding real estate….yet so much grift. Everybody made a profit off ninja loans. And no one prosecuted at the top…..

          So many rules, regulations, laws about prescribing narcotics…..

          1. Mary Wehrhein

            Yes….REGULATIONS! I remember years ago when my mother was a few days from death…the doctor put her on a low level opioid rx. You’d think they were handing me the nuclear codes. After she died, the hospice nurse had to measure back what was left from the little bottle….it made me very nervous. Were they checking to see if I had OD’d her? And the nurse took the bottle with her. That has been my only experience with opioids. So I was quite surprised at how others can get this stuff so easily almost like candy. This was in Kansas….we are not a failed red state yet…though Brownback and his wrecking crew are working hard to achieve that.

  3. cocomaan

    The other side of the coin of prescription opiate addiction facilitated by drug companies is heroin addiction, facilitated by an illegal market. 90% of it comes from Afghanistan.

    There needs to be a full investigation into why we have heroin coming into this country when NATO is in Afghanistan full time and for the last fifteen years. Someone is making bank.

      1. cocomaan

        Patrolling through, or even protecting, is different from the trade, though. The trade requires the stuff to move through provinces, over the border, and through many hands. People are making a killing off of this trade. How can it possibly be unseen?

        I’m not even considering the possibility of it being facilitated by NATO. Even them allowing it to pass over the borders is criminal, considering that they control the damn borders.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Heroin and opium trade seems to me like corn and soybeans and dollars- all parts of a trade network, fungible commodity. So what if most heroin crosses from Mexico ? Even if true, what’s the supply chain look like again? And there’s evidence that the Vietnam war sure included US Imperial involvement in fostering and profiting from heroin trade.

        There’s no fixing it, no stopping it, no possible Prohibition. Corruption will always find a way. Best us mopes can hope for is that our appetites won’t lead to narco-failed-state Mexican-level Fokkery.

  4. Paid Minion

    It’s not just the people who have lost jobs who have been affected.

    Add to them everybody who isn’t a “Golden Child”, who has spent the past 30 years working harder and pulling more of the load due to staff reductions, while getting paid less and watched their benefits/retirement pensions cut or eliminated. The money extracted, of course, going to the managerial and investment class.

    Much of this didn’t happen by natural selection, but by rich people lobbying for government tax and spending policies that favored them, at the expense of the flunkies in the Middle Class.

    You read all kinds of stories lamenting the fact that many Americans don’t take vacations, or use their vacation time. The simple fact is that “vacations” are a luxury that most people can’t afford anymore.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > It’s not just the people who have lost jobs who have been affected.

      I very much agree. RCP speaks of “contagion,” and while rational maximizers might not be affected by death and despair all around them, the dull normals definitely are.

    2. Marco

      Good point. Even the currently employed and/or “down-market” credentialed-class are getting squeezed. Have we decided what “credentialed” means? Graduate degree w/license? I know of a few database admins (perhaps they are different from a database developer) who have been ruined by offshoring and the H1B two-step.

      1. jrs

        There are people working in I.T. still who lack the barest minimum of what anyone would call a credential (I didn’t say they lack skills). I mean they lack a bachelors degree period, then those with only some for profit degree and many more with just a ordinary credible but nothing to write home about bachelors. They got in when the getting was better in some cases.

        But if that’s credentialed, at a certain point credentialed doesn’t even mean credentialed in terms of degrees at all sometimes, it just means paid enough to live off in an urban area, with maybe some employer provided healthcare and a 401k, 2 weeks vacation time.

      2. JTFaraday

        I agree. Picking on the credentialed classes– and ditto the blue state voters in healthier local economies– and making them somehow responsible for the actions of those leading the ownership classes is a mistake. Those people are working class, and they are subject to precarization.

        That they don’t identify as “working class,” and so don’t respond to political appeals made on that basis when that term translates into manufacturing to just about everyone, including Donald Trump, should come as no revelation to anyone. How many call center jobs were outsourced in the past 2 decades? Not a career job to some, perhaps, but not a peep outta any of our latter day champions of the working class about those jobs leaving the country.

        Too much like feminized labor or something?

      1. Ruben

        I gonna give you the formal calculation, at least the standard, frequentist “test of significance”.

        For a sample size of 3,000 (the number of counties) and an observed positive correlation of 0.4, the chance that the true correlation is 0 -so the observed correlation of 0.4 was just within the margin of error- is 1 in 10,000.

        For the purists out there this is the really formal statement: under the null hypothesis that the true correlation is 0 (no linear relationship between elevated mortality rates for white people and county that voted for Trump) we would get an observed correlation of 0.4 or higher in a sample size of 3000 in just 1 instance out of 10,000 repetitions.

  5. JD

    “Rural poverty happens because people aren’t being paid to take adequate care of their places. There’s lots of work to do here. And you can’t afford to pay anybody to do it! If you depress the price of the products of the place below a certain level, people can’t afford to maintain it. And that’s the rural dilemma.” – Wendell Berry

  6. craazyboy

    It seems obvious that yoga and meditation clinics are not equitably distributed around the country. We all have heard of those India Indian guys that can meditate for 2 weeks and not eat any food at all while doing it. They don’t drink excessively or do drugs either. I’ll bet the librul wing of the Democratic Party is well aware of this yoga imbalance and if we all would vote correctly, they would do something about it.

    1. JustAnObserver

      Aha! Now we have the answer to Hillary’s 30,000 yoga emails. We must not have a meditation gap!

  7. Timmy

    I work for a company based in St. Louis and I travel there to work for a couple of days every two weeks. There is a particular framing of the issues discussed in this posting that I have heard in St. Louis more than a few times. This framing essentially contrasts the national media focus on the controversial issues of identify in recent periods, particularly gay marriage and LGBQ equality, with the absence of coverage of issues in “rural” america, mostly the loss of jobs and the hollowing out of industry. Its very much the sense of people I speak with here that while both sets of issues deserve our attention, the later seems clearly more urgent (to them). There is a distinct sense of having waited patiently for their concerns to be addressed and finally realizing that they will always be ignored. Then DT came along and it was an answer to their prayers.

    1. jrs

      But it’s hard to argue that a lot of widespread urban issues get much coverage either. What about homelessness for instance? It’s hard to argue issues of homelessness and housing affordability in urban areas are not urgent and it’s hard to argue they get much political attention either. So maybe it’s not really about urban versus rural but whether class issues get any attention at all.

  8. RabidGandhi

    For me, the Case-Deaton study is the factoid of recent years, and Deaton’s comments here on the opiod epidemic are spot on.

    That said, I take issue with the red/blue counties stat. First because counties are not an accurate populational gauge, with some counties having populations in the millions while others are in the tens of thousands. Showing this on a map is even more deceiving. Secondly because this analysis only shows who voted for Dems/Repubs, but all of the analyses I have seen thus far show that it was not voters but rather non-voters who determined this election (in which a mere third of the population voted). More precisely, Trump basically maintained steady the number of voters achieved by Romney and McCain, whereas the story in MI, WI, OH and PA was that HRC enthused much fewer voters to bother to come to the polls for her. Obviously, this will not show up in the ‘counties’ analysis because even if the number of voters were to dwindle down to the tens, the counties map would still look the same so long as the percentages didn’t change.

    This is important because the crucial lessons of this election are that while the establishment has indeed been roundly rejected, it is a statistical error to think that the people of the United States voted for Trump or that he has anything that could rightly be described as a base: the despair and anger are all certainly present, but the data do not show them necessarily leading to an acceptance of Trump.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I think in political not demographic terms it explains the Democrat’s weak bench, and I should have put this in the post, but I forgot.

      Every one of those counties is an opportunity for leadership, even if only for a small population. Speculating freely, the Republicans are both more feral and more effective because they’ve got more “careers open to talent.” Meanwhile, the tippy top of the Democrat hierarchy is choked with failures who should have aged out long ago. Lots of smaller pyramids in the red counties, just a few big ones in the blue counties.

      As for “crucial lessons,” for the Clinton campaign the election was an avalanche of fail, and both non-voters and voters are part of the equation. Voters were the final pebbles, though.

      As for “the data do not show them necessarily leading to an acceptance of Trump” I don’t think “kicking over the checkerboard” is the same thing as accepting Trump; Trump is the means to the end.

  9. MG

    This kind of analysis at the state level is too large geographically to make this point. Even at the county level it is to broad.

    It really needs to be done at the Census block level and over time.

  10. dbk

    Extremely interesting, but as noted by others, very complex. My understanding is that opioid consumption is concentrated in certain states, the majority (though not all) of which are in the greater Appalachian region (TN, WVA, NC) and South (AL, MI, ARK, LA, SC). Perhaps its use is spreading rapidly to other regions, however…

    The link provided above to how “rural” is calculated (ppsm) is probably the best metric to use for correlation purposes. Because it’s measured at the tract/block level, counties can have mixed urban – rural populations.

    Ideally, the analysis should be carried out at the micro-level (starting from sub-county, moving up to county level) with an investigation of the loss of manufacturing jobs over the past 20 or so years, then of increased use of the drug, then of 2016 election results.

    Re: Iowa (see above, numerous commenters), actually it has quite a few urban centers and urban clusters acc to the census criteria, but in between these are vast tracts of open land with low population density (under 500 ppsm).

    I looked at the census map of urban / urban clusters / rural for my own state, Illinois, just now and it pretty much mirrors the results of the 2016 election – Chicago (Cook County) as the massive urban cluster, Peoria County, Champaign County (home to UIUC, the flagship campus), and the Quad Cities area (Moline/Rockford in Illinois, Dubuque/Bettendorf in IA) iirc went Democratic, and that was about it.

    A commenter above (@Anon) referred to manufacturing jobs in IA, specifically “farm equipment”: well, yes, this was a very important part of IA and IL’s production base when I was growing up. Three huge farm and earth-moving/heavy equipment manufacturers were headquartered in IL: International Harvester (Lisle), John Deere (Moline), and the behemoth Caterpillar (Peoria). All three have been sold (IH), downsized (JD), and/or shifted a good deal of production offshore (Cat). Caterpillar announced in 2015 that it would be shedding 10,000 further jobs. This is a lot of jobs in a county with a total population of 200,000.

    Re: small farmers in IA and despair: I’m not sure how many small farmers there are in IA any more, actually. In central Illinois, there are almost none left. One of my cousins is married to the last independent family farmer left in his county (west-central Illinois near the Mississippi River), and he is retiring this year.

    All of this is to say that it’s complicated indeed – rural in Illinois is not the same thing as rural in WVa, or even rural in neighboring IA or IN (which shares many characteristics with the Appalachian region).

    I think maybe this sort of work – correlation of 2016 election results/ loss of jobs/ increased use of Oxycontin (oxycodone) might best be done by those investigating the politics and industrial histories of individual states who are also familiar with the idiosyncrasies of individual counties.

    Fascinating and important research.

    1. Binky

      The City of Everett north of Seattle, home to major Boeing factories and a Navy base, is suing Perdue Pharmaceuticals for getting so many of its residents hooked on junk. My recollection is that Everett was always the urbanised center of a primarily rural county (Snohomish), but it was the big city for that section of Puget Sound before I-5 and urban sprawl generated the greater Portland-Vancouver metroplex centered on the freeway.

      https://everettwa.gov/1681/Purdue-Lawsuit

      It’s a white people problem that, like interracial marriage and miscegenation and homosexuality and gender shifts, were formerly inconceivable to the white middle class, who now find themselves up in it all. I suspect the response will be more dramatic than just Trumpism; I suspect there will be a religious resurgence or an appeal to authoritarianism in the search for simple answers.

      e.g. http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/157427.Hellfire_Nation

      http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12065265-the-plots-against-the-president?from_search=true

  11. azygous

    I live in a conservative enclave in rural southern Colorado, where perhaps less than 5% are liberals. I’ve known these people for over two decades. They all voted for Trump, and it wasn’t because of the reasons stated in this article.

    These people are perfectly and thoroughly brainwashed by 30 years of conservatives corrupting the language and convincing these people that anything to do with Democrats or liberals is evil incarnate. They literally feel they have no choice but to vote Republican, no matter the candidate. Some vote consistently Republican out of loyalty to the party, too, not even giving much thought to the candidates.

    Hatred and mistrust of liberals and the Democratic Party are the top reasons for the conservatives I know for voting for Trump. Despair has nothing to do with it.

    1. Carla

      I take your point, and know plenty of people like those you describe. And yet, with all due respect, I don’t think the state of Colorado has ever determined the outcome of a presidential election. If I’m wrong, surely someone here will correct me.

    2. JTFaraday

      I see these people online quite a bit. They are not a small group. And, oh yes, on corrupting the language. OMG.

    3. Octopii

      Hear, hear!

      Find your local six to nine hour daily lineup of Michael Savage, Chris Plante, Mark Levin, and Rush Limbaugh. Listen for a few days straight (if you can bear it), and learn.

  12. William

    Yeah, ya’ll real wonky smart. But you don’t know much. Let’s have another graph, set of stats, a bit of number numbing analysis. My wife had cancer, part of a lung removed, and a script for hydrocodone. This was March 2014. She died Aug. 2016. We were both hooked. Why? Despair. Worked in a sawmill30 years Despair. Brutal work Working class life is to die slowly, sentiently. Without any security beyond the willingness to keep on rather than blowing your brains out. A toss up without dependents. Come real close with a shotgun in a bathtub since she been gone. That’s part of the reason for opioid problem. Working.class life sucks in America. I

      1. William

        Yeah, gotta learn.not to post when I’ve been drinking. Sorry for the negativity. Your site deserves better.

        1. McKillop

          You also deserve better. To endure both your pain and our wife’s pain makes you heroic to me. I wish you the best; even grief lessens with time, should never be forgotten, but rather, testified.

  13. Charles Yaker

    While the answer to America’s problem is MMT and the Job Guarentee can anybody explain or even speculate why all this did not touch Obama?

    2012 Win and current popularity.

  14. TedHunter

    Re. credentialism:NYT published a huge study on average income of parents of Ivy League students:
    https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/01/18/upshot/some-colleges-have-more-students-from-the-top-1-percent-than-the-bottom-60.html

    Also, Pickety mentioned the same issue in “Capital”. He surveyed Harvard and came up with a higher income than in the article above (top 2%).

    This issue goes to the core of the Dems replacing workers rights and compensation with education (Thomas Frank thesis in “Listen liberal”). As in: everyone is able to get a relevant diploma. So everyone has a chance. If you did not get a diploma: your decision, your fault.

    Turns out that those kids getting the right diplomas decided wisely what womb they would crawl out of.

    1. jrs

      How could it not correlate? If one was not from money even if one had the opportunity and the aptitude for a selective college and was told by one’s society etc. to go to college and was able to and did indeed go to college, how on earth would anyone know they should go to a selective rather than a non-selective college? (I’m not sure what non-selective means but Cal State schools in California aren’t that hard to get into so I imagine something like that). That’s the kind of stuff upper class people raise their children with that are not part of general social discourse if you aren’t in that class.

      1. JTFaraday

        I agree. My mother used to come home from PTA meetings and tell me about these people. I still had to my way past her community college first theory into the state university, although her theory worked out very well for one of my less bookish siblings. Never occurred to her that there might be scholarship money in elite schools, which there is. I wasn’t a member of the transcript club so I wasn’t going to get it. I’m just saying. You don’t know what you don’t know.

        In any case, I had to opportunity to see the results of the transcript club, and I was happy with my decisions.

  15. Ted

    Lambert, there seems to be a word that is absent from Professor Sir Angus Deaton’s scholarly acumen, “spurious”. Perhaps he got his start in public health by warning the good people of the Anglophone world to stop eating ice cream cones, as sales of these were so strongly correlated with drowning deaths.

    But, more seriously, Prof. Sir Deaton is dispatched from the rarified realm of the Wilson School in Princeton to Davos to tell the glitterati and masters of the universe exactly what they want to hear: voters who reject what their selling are irrational, backward, drug addled rubes who are stuck inside a world of modern despair conjured in Camus’ “Myth of Sysiphus”. His job is to assure everyone that these voters are not political agents, who know exactly what their interests are that the corporate political parties are no longer offering.

    I mean let’s consider the democratic party’s platform as Hills ran it: more corporate friendly trade deals >> less economic security for you and me, more wars and bombing brown and black people in Africa and South West and South Asia, more unaccountable state surveilance, more expensive health insurance with acutal less health care (and the wrong health care when it is offered at all), no regulation of Big Pharma or Big Finance (hello Debt and Opioid epidemic!), and if immigrant kids go to college, we’ll give ’em a fine “ata girl” — but if there hard working parents are undocumented then they are f**ked (and that’s great ’cause it keeps wages low .. ’cause we’ll just cycle in more as we deport the older ones) — ’cause, you know, we’re the party of minorities (winky, winky).

    People are not “in despair” … They are pissed and with good reason. (Expect more blue to red shifting going forward).

  16. pl schwartz

    From http://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2016/cb16-tps153.html
    I did not go into this report in detail but I am sure there will be some charts by race.
    These are some bullet points
    “Among the 13,245 U.S. school districts, the median estimated poverty rate for school-aged children was 16.5 percent in 2015. Additionally, for all U.S. school districts 37.3 percent (4,935 school districts) had a school-aged poverty rate greater than 20.0 percent.
    Between 2007 (prior to the most recent recession) and 2015, 10.8 percent of counties (338) had a statistically significant increase in their median household income when adjusting for inflation. During the same period, 14.8 percent (464 counties) had a statistically significant decrease in their median household income.”

    Between 2007 and 2015, 18.1 percent of counties (569) had a statistically significant increase in their poverty rate for all ages. During the same period, 2.0 percent (63 counties) had a statistically significant decrease in their poverty rate.”
    An accompanying map shows where these changes occur.Decreases are mostly in the West and South.
    Every time a factory closed not only was the incomes lost. But the tax base tanked. This means cutbacks in schooling,social programs and general maintenance of services. An illegal working for low wages means that you have to an average worker has to accept that .lower wage. That college place that went to an Affirmative Action kid might mean your kid had to do without.
    “Righting historic wrongs” has in many cases been Collective Punishment

    1. HotFlash

      That college place that went to an Affirmative Action kid might mean your kid had to do without.

      Only if there is a shortage of college places.

    2. JTFaraday

      I’ve spent some hard time in various academic environments, including admissions, and the AA thing is way oversold. In fact, it’s ironic that white people complain so much about political correctness on campus because it’s basically in the space where the bodies should be.

      But no, orange cheese puff America has to have it all.

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