Saturday, April 06, 2013

Red Counties: More on How the Poor Live

Dining with my old pal Ignoto the other night (salmon carpaccio, gnocchi, scallops, a nice pinot), I listened to Ignoto remark that most of our friends don't have a clue how many poor there are, and how they live.

Leaden (preemptive) irony intended.  One may well ask how Ignoto knows, if he knows.  But if you talked with him for half an hour you'd recognize that he harbors a highly original and independent turn of mind, coupled with almost limitless curiosity.  So you'd be inclined to bet that he probably is onto something. And who knows, he may have seen the map that Ezra Klein finds "terrifying."  And he may have heard followup comments like these below.  First, the Wichita Bureau updates on life in the trackless void that is Western Kansas:
KS counties in red are mostly what you’d expect – the odd part is NW Ks – where the main industry is I 70 (hotels, fleecing hunters and the only Starbucks in that corner of KS; we stayed in a motel out there on the way back from a trip to Denver – and each room has a sign warning against cleaning pheasants in the bathroom sink – they point out that there is a special area behind the motel for THAT). There are three little towns out there that are holding their own – but apparently not in healthcare. The two red counties in SE KS are quite familiar: Greenwood where we had a second home for years and Elk, the poorest county in the state, supposedly. Both are dominated by big land owners – ranchers and oil guys. the Koch family owns at least 5000 acres of prime grass land. I suspect they own the commission. Greenwood has a small county hospital (that mainly packages people up for the helicopter ride to Wichita) with a decent number of doctors – mostly DO’s and foreigners. There is absolutely no industry – and damn few restaurants. About the only significant employers are the county, school system and a cluster of nursing homes supported by Medaire/Kancare.  . ...
Kansas continues to lose population in a majority of counties. In some cases, if the current exodus continues, they will be down to negative population by 2020 (link).
From the stats (link), the influx of Hispanics is done. But a couple of counties (in blue) are now majority minority – More Hispanics and Somalis than Swedes.
He might have added that Western Kansas has a long history of standing at or near the top of the league tables for farm subsidies, though last time I looked, an awful lot of the checks went to post boxes in San Francisco.  Meanwhile, here's an update on Wisconsin from UB's newly appointed stringer in Eau Claire:
That strip of red counties up through the center of Wisconsin is entierly predictable: these counties all lie between, what  I call, the highways. There are three major, north/south highways in WI - 41 on the east runs up through the Fox River Valley, Appleton, Green Bay, etc.; highway 51 (I-39) runs up through the middle of the state, Stevens Point, Wausau, Minocqua, etc.; and highway 53 on the west, LaCrosse to Eau Claire to Rice Lake to Superior. The most conservative and no-growing part of the state (the actual most conservative part of the state is the Fox Valley to Lake Michigan on the east side--Joe McCarthy country--lies between Eau Claire and Wausau (Highways 51 and 53)). Lots of Bubbas and gun nuts, and yes, Amish - not the greatest farm land either. There is just lots of swamp, scrub timber, brush and such. ...These people just won't change, so their kids grow up and leave; they go to LaCrosse, Madison, Eau Claire, and the Fox Valley. By the way, Green Bay is a mess - lots of poverty (lots of Hispanics, Hmongs, etc.), but it is growing-- the "two-class" society.

Followup: I guess what intrigues me most in the red map is that strip of blue counties across Central California and the Rio Grande Vallley.  Just guessing but it seems to me that it must be evidence that Chicanas, i.e., women, punch above their grade when it comes to health care--that they are healthier, better taken care of (take better care of themselves?) than you might guess from income data alone.


Oscar said...

When talking about Wisconsine, your circle is in Minnesota!

boing3887 said...

Hello, the phenomenon of Latinos/as exhibiting better health incomes than one would expect given their income is called "The Latino Health Paradox."

Research suggests that their health incomes are mediated by their strong familial social support networks and healthier, "ethnic" diets.

This effect unfortunately seems to disappear in later generations as they assimilate, however