Harvard Study: Only 4% Of Poor ATLiens Climb To The Top Of The Economic Ladder

The New York Times Monday highlighted a Harvard study on intergenerational mobility. Unfortunately, the results for Atlanta, Georgia, and most of the South were not encouraging. In short, only 4% of people born during 1980 and 1981 in the metro-Atlanta area, whose parents earned less than $25,000 per year, were able to climb to the top fifth of income earners. Not the kind of statistic you’d put in your brochures, and certainly not what we all want for ourselves and our children.

The Times summarizes the study’s findings:

But the researchers identified four broad factors that appeared to affect income mobility, including the size and dispersion of the local middle class. All else being equal, upward mobility tended to be higher in metropolitan areas where poor families were more dispersed among mixed-income neighborhoods.

Income mobility was also higher in areas with more two-parent households, better elementary schools and high schools, and more civic engagement, including membership in religious and community groups.

Regions with larger black populations had lower upward-mobility rates. But the researchers’ analysis suggested that this was not primarily because of their race. Both white and black residents of Atlanta have low upward mobility, for instance.

The authors emphasize that their data allowed them to identify only correlation, not causation. Other economists said that future studies will be important for sorting through the patterns in this new data.

Both Conservatives and Liberals found things they liked in the study.

From the American Enterprise Institute:

That intact families, good schools, and a healthy civic society are pretty important is hardly surprising to conservatives. (And especially in the case of Atlanta, effective mass transit in less concentrated cities is also important). By contrast, there was little or no correlation between mobility and the sort of stuff that left-liberals might prefer to focus on: taxes (tax credits for the poor or higher taxes for the rich), college tuition rates, or the amount of extreme wealth in a region.

From Mother Jones:

Poor kids don’t exactly have a great chance in life no matter where they live, but in the South, they have almost no chance at all. If you take a look at the policy preferences of Southern governors and legislatures, that’s apparently exactly the way they like it.

It would be no surprise to readers of this blog that I agree more with AEI than Mother Jones on this one. We cannot overlook the importance of intact two parent families or ignore institutions such as Churches that for most of our history provided much needed stability to communities, rich and poor, across America. Surely the general breakdown of marriages – and the decline in the number of people bothering to get married in the first place – as well as the loss of trust in civic institutions like Churches and Schools have limited the opportunities low income people have. Folks are weary of talking about social issues, but as this study demonstrates, how we deal with issues such as marriage and religion greatly impact our society.

Another aspect of the study points to the importance of a quality education. Needless to say, Georgia has not fared well on that front, contributing mightily to the problems low income children across the State face. Rather than blaming teachers or simply demanding more money, we need to take a serious, fresh look at how we are educating Georgia’s children. What we’re doing now in many parts of the State ain’t getting the job done.

We often talk about the American Dream and what it means. Perhaps the key aspect of that Dream is the idea that in America anyone can be whatever they want. A poor person can become wealthy because the opportunity is there for them it they will reach out and grab it. You don’t need to be born rich to enjoy the opportunities America provides. To see evidence that this is not true for many is troubling to say the least.

Discuss.

58 comments

    • Ghost of William F Buckley says:

      Glad you picked up on this article. I believe the article is a ‘push piece’ designed to influence a current, first time initiative by HUD to ‘boost’ upward mobility, as I posted on July 22, 2013 at 9:20.

      Not a value judgment, most all want to “send the elevator back down from the top,” but these programs can go terribly awry.

      “Many of the frequent PP posters are pretty media savvy about news cycles, push pieces, and I wonder any one cares to comment about a potential correlation to this NY Times article and a HUD current event: HUD Public Comment Period:

      The public can review the proposed rule and submit comments or questions via Regulations.gov. The public comment period will last for 60 days starting Friday, July 19.

      HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan says “for the first time ever, HUD will provide data for every neighborhood in the country, detailing the access African American, Latino, Asian, and other communities have to local assets, including schools, jobs, transportation, and other important neighborhood resources that can play a role in helping people move into the middle class. Long-term solutions will involve various strategies, such as helping people gain access to different neighborhoods and channeling investments into underserved areas.”

      https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2013/07/19/2013-16751/affirmatively-furthering-fair-housing

      New Yawk Times: In Climbing Income Ladder, Location Matters

      A study finds the odds of rising to another income level are notably low in certain cities, like Atlanta and Charlotte, and much higher in New York and Boston.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/22/business/in-climbing-income-ladder-location-matters.html?_r=2& “

  1. One assumes that a pre-requisite for social mobility is the desire/ability to improve one’s status – not just an enabling environment. Poor people aren’t just curled up in the fetal position on the side of the road waiting for the government to create a “favorable environment” for them that, once created, suddenly inspires them to improve their lot in life. No, the motivation for social mobility is far more cultural than institutionalized. And I say this as a person who went from the “bottom fifth” to the “top fifth” – in Georgia.

  2. caroline says:

    Having lived in the south almost my entire life I can tell you one of the reason why the south has a lot of these problems. The main one is the economic model that is one of offering CHEAP LABOR not QUALITY LABOR. Come to GA and you’ll have to pay your employees less. Right? As long as this is the model, people are not going to value an education or even think they can become upwardly mobile. And now the south is competing with third world countries on the cheap labor model.

    As far as the breakdown of families, I am not sure how the government solves that problem without producing more big daddy government. Churches would do well to get out of the business of politics and more into solving the problems in their communities.

  3. Scott65 says:

    The study also mentions that due to the lack of a cohesive public transportation policy. Those on the lower end are locked out of the majority of opportunity because they simply cant get to where the better jobs are. Lamenting the 2 parent family is a nice red herring but it does nothing to solve the problem now. There will always be 1 parent families. We need policies that acknowledge that and acknowledge the lack of investment in public transit

    • saltycracker says:

      Good one, got it… S65 has to be someone consistently posting outrageously offbeat Ida’s to get a reaction….
      Personal responsibility for children, education, communication skills are trumped by the lack of a bus to move those lacking or seeking the fore mentioned around.

      • George Chidi says:

        Actually … yes. Apparently, it does. Unless you have evidence that the factors you just cited are somehow not normally distributed by geography.

        • saltycracker says:

          We’ll those incredulous remarks sure brought back memories of my mother’s hibiscus switch when I complained it was too far to ride my bike to the lousy junkyard job or I had no way to get to the library…..it didn’t occur to us that solutions for our problems started with the general public.

      • Scott65 says:

        Its sad that you find it outrageous that we should have a cohesive public transit policy…horribly offbeat here…thats why we are last. My opinion differs from some, but if you want to only hear those similar to your own…you van always go perch at RedState.com…

        • saltycracker says:

          I’m sure many on the left would not share your priorities or opinions. Nowhere did I say we should not have a cohesive public transit policy.

        • Scott65 says:

          You’ve been spared, but the fact is thousands not as fortunate as you are not. What are they supposed to do? Please educate me as to the solution. That cash for clunkers is your response is laughable…REALLY?

          • seenbetrdayz says:

            Well you obviously know me better than I do. What’s laughable is that you keep expecting government officials to fix the problems they created in the first place.

            Instead of b***hing and moaning that I was raised by a single mom making $650/month as a school bus driver, crying about how I wish gov’t would come save me, and if only I had a damn train to pull up to my doorstop and mass-transit my *** to a job, I could somehow class-mobilize my butt from being dirt poor as I once was to the tolerable level of ‘broke’ I am now.

            Everyone wants to be a damn Bill Gates but the truth is both the left and the right have been blowing up the lie that you can be whatever you want in America. You can’t. You can however be better than you once were. But for some people, that’s just not good enough, and they won’t rest until they’ve helped themselves to the hard work of others, until there’s no longer any incentive for anyone to try to achieve a better status in life, because hell, there’s always someone else less fortunate and they need your earnings. So really, why bother working at all?

  4. greencracker says:

    Interesting item re: single parent families as a red herring:

    The Economist explores reasons why crime keeps falling in rich countries. They don’t come up with a silver bullet, but this is one item they explore:

    “Cherished social theories have been discarded. Conservatives who insisted that the decline of the traditional nuclear family and growing ethnic diversity would unleash an unstoppable crime wave have been proved wrong. Young people are increasingly likely to have been brought up by one parent and to have played a lot of computer games. Yet they are far better behaved than previous generations. Left-wingers who argued that crime could never be curbed unless inequality was reduced look just as silly.”

    http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21582004-crime-plunging-rich-world-keep-it-down-governments-should-focus-prevention-not

    • Scott65 says:

      Being well behaved and being upwardly mobile aren’t up there on reasons for upward mobility…thus my comment that to focus more than is relevant is a red herring. Dealing with the reality in front of them is hard for policy makers here it seems

  5. Native Gwinnettian says:

    Interesting that both Los Angeles and Washington D.C. both had much higher levels of income mobility than Atlanta (10 & 9% respectively). Those cities would seem to have very similar features in terms of minority population and some of the other demographic factors that normally affect these kinds of things. Transit in DC is pretty good, but Los Angeles isn’t that much better than Atlanta so I find it kind of hard to use transit to explain those results.

    The map on the NYT article is pretty telling. Clearly there are some issues in the South that play a huge role in income mobility. Looking at that map, it’s pretty hard to ignore the racial component.

  6. dsean says:

    Interesting study, but a couple of immediate questions jump out.

    Why start with people born in 1980 and 1981 instead of doing an actual longitudinal study beginning earlier? Having been born in 1980, I’d like to believe that I haven’t reached my full earnings potential at the ripe old age of 32, especially as my industry has been hammered by the Great Recession.

    Secondly, the ended their study during a time of economic contraction (at least in real terms). It makes sense that fewer people in their early 30s would have substantially higher incomes.

    Thirdly, it’s unclear if they controlled for regional variation of incomes and changes in income. Incomes in the NE and west coast have grown faster in absolute terms than incomes in the southeast. In other words, a massive change in income in NYC or Boston might appear to be evidence of social mobility, but is really just evidence of price and wage inflation.

    Finally, they don’t seem to be accounting for the physical movement of people to and from these cities. A large factor in social mobility is leaving to pursue different opportunities elsewhere. If kids from Atlanta moved to Charlotte to join the banking sector, it doesn’t appear that they’d be captured by this study.

    • Grandson of Flubber says:

      Just to add to dsean’s poignant comments regarding age and earning potential, from the Internal Revenue Service’s 2010 database, the top 5% taxable income earners made $159,619 and above. This level of income is a tough nut to crack with the professional experience one has at age 30 in any state, even with a graduate degree in a high demand profession, especially in view of a long term recession and anemic recovery. The findings of this “study”, as with any study, should be reviewed cautiously.

      • Most of the people one day making $159,619 / year or more will either already be making it in their early 30’s (they are called doctors or attorneys) or will be somewhat close – making something like $120k or more by 30. Sad but true. See also: don’t buy that house that you can only afford if you keep making 5% raises for the next ten years.

  7. greencracker says:

    South = poorer than most regions.
    South = blacker than most regions.

    My husband, a foreigner, was stunned to learn than until 1955 … 1955! Just 57 years ago, white America officially apartheid-ed black America into inferior “schools.”

    Try to put yourself in his shoes for a minute. Try to forget you’ve known that all your life. Step back from that fact and regard its immensity. Consider that fact and how many black parents and grandparents of today were legally barred from education past a little simple English and arithmetic.

    Yea. Now there’s a sin being visited unto many generations.

    • And culturally, the even worse thing is that even some of the rare black Americans back then who were educated, got a chance to go to college or what not were still shut out of career opportunities, which helped to reinforce a very bad thing namely that education wasn’t important. So many of the first two or three generations who actually had access to a decent education had a lot of cultural pressure not to invest too much in it because of the lack of advancement previous generations had been able to attain even when they had.

    • Dave Bearse says:

      A inconsistency with some “family values” types is that they talk of the importance of family on one hand, and on the other say family doesn’t matter when it comes to economic standing and mobility. They’ll say millennials have had equal opportunity so it matter that their mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, grandmas and grandpas were discriminated against. Some of the equal opportunity types are first or second base versions of someone born on third base that thought they had hit a triple.

  8. Dave Emanuel says:

    A study concerning the South, conducted by Harvard and reported by the New York Times is suspicious at best. That isn’t meant to infer that the data itself is corrupt, only that the interpretation has a high likelihood of being skewed. Northerners tend to view of the South with a jaundiced eye that sees the region as being culturally and economically inferior to the Northeast, Midwest and West. It comes as no surprise that Harvard researchers collected data that “proves” their point.

    In spite of that, there is merit to the claim that poor residents of Southern cities are less likely to climb as high on the income ladder as their counterparts in New York, Philadelphia, Boston and the like. Lack of low cost transportation in Southern cities is certainly a factor as is family background and place of birth. The study fails to mention whether the poor Atlantans stuck on the lower rungs are first, second or third generation Southerners. Which means it’s unknown whether the lower rungs are inhabited by people who failed to move up in other areas of the country,relocated to the South and remained equally unsuccessful, or if they are native Southerners unable to rise above the same challenges faced by their parents and grandparents.

    • sockpuppet says:

      “A study concerning the South, conducted by Harvard and reported by the New York Times is suspicious at best. That isn’t meant to infer that the data itself is corrupt, only that the interpretation has a high likelihood of being skewed.”

      See Silver, Nate.

  9. achap39 says:

    Oh, the grand idea of the ‘American Dream.’ Sold to us in a nice little package by Hollywood and the government 60 years, all the while making sure the puppet masters who run Washington get their share.

    The American Dream was what, exactly? Buying a home, two cars in the driveway, and 2.2 kids in their bedrooms. Home? Mortgaged through a bank or S&L. Those shiny Datsuns and Buicks (copyright Sheryl Crow, 1993)? Financed through another bank. As for the kids, they get to be sent to the nation’s best suburban public schools to learn about the fallacy of American exceptionalism and read about history as written by the military-industrial complex.

    Gee whillikers, Mr. Brockway! I sure can’t wait to get back to the good old days!

  10. George Chidi says:

    It’s the civic participation piece of this that gets me. The Atlanta metro area isn’t exactly unchurched. But the rest of civic life — rotary clubs, PTA, political groups (irony), social clubs — is weak here, and other studies have noticed that recently.

    A UGA study that came out a month ago had this to say:

    “Georgia exhibits some of the lowest rates of civic engagement in the country, particularly in the millennial generation, or people born between 1981 and 2004. The state is about average in such civic health indicators as family and neighborhood interactions but is below the national average in measures like attending public meetings and voter turnout.”

    We rank 36th on attending public meetings, 44th on “trusting your neighbors,” and 46th on trusting the media, for examples. The one place where we really excel: arguing politics online. Sixth in the nation.

    The argument can be made that social mobility is weak here because we don’t care enough about our neighbors to be willing to help them out when they’re in trouble. A thought.

  11. sockpuppet says:

    I am not convinced that the lack of transportation is the reason for the lack of upward mobility, at least for residents of Atlanta-Fulton-DeKalb. MARTA runs to Atlanta Tech, Atlanta Metro, Georgia State, Georgia Tech, Georgia Perimeter and DeKalb Tech. The problem is the lack of people willing to get on the bus and go.

    Also, the claim that blacks in the Atlanta area and the south lack the upward mobility that is found in the northeast and out west is strange. What has been going on the past 25 years? The great reverse migration, where blacks are leaving the likes of New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles etc. for the southeast, with Atlanta being the prime destination until the great recession. It makes it odd to say that New York is better for upward mobility for blacks than Atlanta when so many blacks moved from New York to Atlanta from 1990-2006 to find jobs.

    Finally, if we are talking about the city proper, the biggest hindrance to income mobility is APS. Quick fix: doing whatever is possible to overcome the Atlanta school board’s vehement opposition to charter schools. Longer term: corporations and private citizens should organize, pass a hat around and establish a vigorous privately funded means tested opportunity scholarship/voucher program. Aided by tax credits of course.

    • George Chidi says:

      You might find the claim strange, but the numbers are there. Notably, the study teased out the racial element and decided that it wasn’t the most significant predictor of mobility. Economic integration was. Neighborhoods with mixed incomes tended to have more upward mobility. And Atlanta is one of the most economically-segregated, economically polarized cities in the country.

      At .572, Atlanta from 2005 to 2009 had the highest Gini index of any metro area in the country. The gap between rich and poor in Atlanta is greater than any city in the country. It’s roughly equivalent to the income gap in Colombia, Guatamala and Honduras, when looking at World Bank figures in comparison.

      Get real.

      I’ve been on the bus system in this town. Comparing a 15 minute drive to a 2 hour odyssey on public transit does nothing to capture the real opportunity costs lost to poverty in this town.

      • TheEiger says:

        How do you propose that we fix this gap between the rich and poor? Public transportation to Cobb County? Throw money at MARTA and the gap between rich and poor will disappear? Really? Is that what you are saying?

        • George Chidi says:

          I actually think that the transit issues and their effect on income mobility are a symptom of a larger problem. We simply don’t like and trust each other enough.

          I was opposed to the TSPLOST, not because I thought we didn’t need transportation improvements but because I thought the money would be wasted by corruption, that the public transportation improvements were unacceptably weak and because transportation taxes should be funded at the pump and by a general levy. I didn’t trust the process enough to put the tax equivalent of $350 a year of my money into it.

          The process failed because the stakeholders couldn’t come to terms on mutual benefits. We didn’t trust each other enough. Underlying this lack of trust is the 100-year-old urban-suburban conflict over “negro excursionists” and white flight. There is homegrown personal hostility manifesting itself as policy. But I think a big part of it is that many, many people — particularly the middle and upper-income bracket folks — didn’t grow up near Atlanta and view their residency here as temporary, so they don’t bother to integrate themselves into their neighborhoods and don’t connect with their neighbors.

          Remember — being black is less important than being poor. We’re class stratified. And that’s the problem that needs fixing. We need more positive social contact between people of different income levels, and it needs to happen on a peer level when possible.

          The faith community might be a start. The de facto segregation — by class and by race — that happens on Sunday mornings needs to be fought overtly and strenuously by this city’s clergy, not as some act of charity but an acknowledgment of common interest and fellowship.

          The drive to re-segregate the schools through voucher programs and privatization is a bigger factor. Rich kids don’t go to school with poor kids much around here. That needs to change.

          But the two main factors involve community civic groups and housing patterns. We don’t do much to learn about our neighbors, and our neighbors are increasingly likely to be just like us economically.

          Neighborhood groups — homeowners associations, planning committees, local advocacy organizations, Facebook groups and email listservs, street barbecues
          and the venerable welcome wagon — need to be consciously established or revived, and participation should be encouraged as a peer responsibility and a civic duty. This requires strong leadership on the local level and overt support by county and municipal leaders. In places like Boston and New York, where grass-roots politics really matter, there are old-school ward bosses that make sure people can’t turtle up when they move into a new community. We need those here.

          Gentrification is a dirty word … but I think there are ways to encourage it that actually benefit the people in gentrifying neighborhoods. That new social contact with more-affluent neighbors is likely to be helpful. Similarly, the reflexive recoil at the use of Section 8 housing credits to move poorer people into middle-income communities should be viewed through the prism of this study.

          A few thoughts.

          • sockpuppet says:

            Gentrification is increasing in Atlanta with the increased construction of condos seeking hipster and tech worker residents downtown and in other places. So give it 10-15 years.

          • TheEiger says:

            No where in your response did you mention education. Just that rich kids don’t go to school with poor kids. A good education is more important in my opinion that MARTA and section 8 housing in middle class neighborhoods. I agree with you that vouchers are not the way to go. But to talk about a city’s ability to have upward mobility for African Americans and then not talk about the horrible school system in Atlanta is just crazy.

            I live in the suburbs because the public schools are better than APS, gas and groceries are cheaper and I pay less in taxes. I have a yard for my dog and I can walk my dog down the street and it never crosses my mind that today could be the day that I could get mugged. That is why I live in the suburbs. You talk about “trust” and white flight. It has nothing to do with race and everything to do with feeling safe in your neighborhood. The idea of “white flight” and your underlying theme of white folks don’t trust black folks is flat out wrong. Come to my neighborhood. It’s isn’t a bunch of “white flight” folks. It’s people of all races that want to send their kids to a good school. Again. SCHOOLS are the reason most people live in the suburbs.

            • sockpuppet says:

              TheEiger:

              I was talking about a privately funded opportunity scholarship program, not a voucher program. What is it that you have against a privately funded opportunity scholarship program that would allow talented and/or hard-working children whose parents have modest means to escape the mediocrity and dysfunction that is APS? A means tested privately funded opportunity scholarship program where donors would receive tax credits would seem to be an excellent libertarian, free market conservative idea that would pass court challenges because it would not result in tax dollars going directly to religious schools. It is something that the U.S. and Georgia Supreme Court have already said is legal.

              Imagine tens of thousands of smart kids – or kids of average intelligence whose parents don’t make much money (maybe they work as janitors, maids, discount store or fast food employees or something) but who care about their kids’ future – using opportunity scholarships to attend low cost private schools. That would transform the city in less than a decade. Look, do you want income mobility or don’t you?

              • TheEiger says:

                Why are you so damn touchy. Relax, it’s almost lunch time. Have you eaten today? You seem a little grumpy.

                I was referring to George’s comment about vouchers. Not yours. George said,”The drive to re-segregate the schools through voucher programs and privatization is a bigger factor.” I’m all for privately funded opportunity scholarships. Many already exist for charter school in Atlanta. They are great and work great.

                What I’m referring to is the discussion at the state level a few years ago that would right a check to every child for the state portion of education funding. Roughly $3,000 a year. You mention Cobb county and poor kinds there. How would a $3,000 check get a poor kid that lives in the Bolton area of South Cobb to Walton or Lassiter High School? The parents of that poor child probably work an hourly wage and can’t take and pick their child up everyday for school. But the buses don’t run from South Cobb to Walton. So what do they do? The kids with the means go to a better school and the poor kids without the means get stuff in a horrible school. That is not a solution to upward mobility.

            • George Chidi says:

              Well the whole “safe in your neighborhood” thing is a bit of a media creation. Even the supposedly dangerous neighborhoods in Atlanta are safer today than your suburban neighborhood was when you were a kid. The stats don’t lie: crime is at a 50-year low. But the press runs crime stories like we’re living in Escape From New York-land.

              Education improves for poor students when they’re around wealthier students. Outcomes improve, test scores improve. Finding ways to reverse selective attrition should be a policy goal.

              The school system in Atlanta is a ruin because civic participation in Atlanta is a ruin. A great school requires engaged parents. To a degree that is statistically unusual in the United States, Atlanta parents can’t or won’t engage. I suggest that transit might be a factor — poor people fighting the lousy bus and train system, with the cost in transportation time being prohibitive for too many. But there are other political and cultural issues — not race, mind, but class — that should be considered as well, not the least of which might be a bureaucracy that’s … impenetrable.

              I’m not talking about upward mobility for black people. I’m talking about upward mobility for poor people. The fact that black people are more likely to be poor isn’t lost on me, but it’s not the explicit goal in mind for me.

    • DeKalb Wonkette says:

      Certainly more questions than answers raised by the findings of this study, which the authors describe as correlational but not necessarily causal.

      I do wonder how many of the adult children captured by this study were born to metro Atlanta natives versus reverse migrating African Americans. People who self-selected to leave the region during the Great Migration may have shared some characteristics not uncovered by the study. Meanwhile another study finds that the U.S. loses $500 billion per year due to child poverty. Time for ideas that actually work!

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/07/25/the-cost-of-child-poverty-500-billion-a-year/?wpisrc=nl_cuzheads

  12. John Konop says:

    One of the biggest hurdles is the war on drugs…….A study done at Ohio State University claimed this was a huge burdon on the poor via jobs……

    First poor kids get more punishment via lack of affordability of having a good lawyer…..Two they many times cannot afford the fines, rehabilation center…….so they do more time…..Three they have a hard time finding jobs with a record, than wealthier kids…..Four they lack transportation option when license is taking away via lack of support network and or public transportation…….Five the poor get trapped into system via the above…..and end up networking with harden criminals while doing the time…..

    We should pardon all victimless crimes ASAP…..Tax the negative behavior….,…it would lower cost, create more jobs than we lost…and increase tax revanue, helping with the debt……Why not fix the problem instead of turning this into a partisan food fight?

  13. sockpuppet says:

    theeiger, saltycracker and other conservatives:

    Do you guys have any actual solutions or anything else positive to contribute to the discussion, or is just sitting around bashing a region and demographic that you clearly have little use or affection for good enough for you? Do you guys have policy solutions for all of Georgia, or is only representing the interests of suburban and rural Georgia while mocking and castigating the rest fine for you?

    Well here is why this won’t work.

    1. The worst performing area of this state economically is not Atlanta with its urban Democrats. It is rural Georgia and Georgia outside the metro area in general. It has been for going on 30 years ever since the family farms and manufacturing collapsed down there and the end of the Cold War caused base closures and cutbacks in defense spending. Also, the schools in those areas (whether K-12 or college) are pretty much mediocre save a few exceptions and the infrastructure is nonexistent. So if sitting around mocking and pointing fingers at Kasim Reed’s constituency suits you just fine, what ideas do you have for the vast stretches of this state for whom living intown would actually mean a huge economic step up in the world, or at least a shot at it that they currently don’t have now?

    2. Now back to the Atlanta metro area: Atlanta is no longer the place with the most people in poverty, and it certainly isn’t the place where poverty is growing the fastest. Nope, it is now the suburbs, and not just Clayton. Numbers, concentration and growth in poverty is already a real problem in Cobb, also in Gwinnett (though not to the extent that it is in Cobb) and is a growing issue in the other suburban counties too. It is just that the issue is ignored because the suburbanites would rather focus on the Democratic leaders in Atlanta and Fulton and are perfectly happy to sweep just as serious problems under the rug in the suburban counties because their leaders are GOPers. But the most that the suburban leadership seems willing or able to do to “deal” with the problem is occasionally shutting down apartment complexes in order to force a few low income folks to “self-deport.” But pretty soon, in a few years, the numbers and the problems caused by it will be too great to keep up the “hey pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, but instead look at all those corrupt Democrats and self-inflicted social problems downtown!”

    That is why the “How do you propose that we fix this gap between the rich and poor? Public transportation to Cobb County? Throw money at MARTA and the gap between rich and poor will disappear? Really? Is that what you are saying?” type comments are delusional. There are almost as many poor people in Cobb County as there are in Atlanta now. Cobb has a child poverty rate that exceeds 20%. If anything, Cobb leaders and residents should consider whether MARTA should be used to help their own poor get to work and school. But the intense disdain for anything and everything downtown (except for the Braves and Falcons!) simply because of revulsion at who the people who live downtown chooses to vote for keeps the suburbanites from dealing with their own problems.

    You aren’t going to see stuff like this reported in the fishwrapper owned by the Brumby legacies, so read below and see why this problem is a lot bigger than protecting your precious Cobb tax dollars from being redistributed downtown. And that was the most ridiculous thing about the Cobb Tea Party’s opposition to T-SPLOST. Before they went bipartisan with the Sierra Club and Tea Party towards the end, they were ranting and raving about how it was some sinister plot to redistribute Cobb wealth to Fulton and bail out MARTA. Mindsets like that are what keep the suburbanites from admitting that there is a real problem and doing more to help their own people. Folks need to stop fighting the battles of the 70s and 80s and adapt to the new political and economic reality.

    http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21582019-poverty-has-moved-suburbs-broke-burbs
    http://saportareport.com/blog/2013/02/poverty-in-metro-atlantas-suburbs-growing-faster-than-in-the-city/

    • TheEiger says:

      Wow, where in any of my comments were the words Democrat, Republican, tea party, Kasim Reed, or anything else political? I will say it again. Why do people not want to move to Atlanta? The schools are horrible. Does Cobb County have problems. Absolutely they do. Does their school board have problems? Absolutely. Have they lost their accreditation or had the entire school board removed? No, so they aren’t as bad as Dekalb and Atlanta’s school system. Why am I a bad person because I want to live in the suburbs? That’s what you and George are saying. Because I have chosen to live in the suburbs I am either a racist, care nothing about the city of Atlanta or care nothing about the people who live there. All are false assumptions.

      Atlanta is very important to Georgia. All of Georgia should want Atlanta to succeed. That is why traffic congestion is an important issue. I voted against the T-SPLOST because overall it did not address quite a few of our major issues and relied to heavily on future monies from the federal government. That is also why the water wars are extremely important to everyone in Georgia as well. Not just Cobb county or Atlanta. I want Atlanta to do well. Building section 8 housing in middle class neighborhoods and throwing money at MARTA does not solve the problems Atlanta is facing.

      Instead of spending money on a new Falcons’ stadium the City should be working on bettering their school system. Instead of building a street care that you can walk the distance it takes you they should focus on real transportation solutions. A dedicated bus lane would have been much cheaper and user friendly.

      But you go on and keep ranting about how we folks in the suburbs hate Atlanta.

      • George Chidi says:

        I don’t think you’re a bad person, racist or anything similar because you want to live in the suburbs. But let’s not mince words: the antipathy between suburban Atlanta and the city is real and it’s damaging everyone who isn’t already rich.

        The incorporation wave is part of it. So is the coming push to allow cities to separate their school systems from the county systems. Suburbanites fight transportation initiatives that would connect poor neighborhoods and rich ones. The fact that the state lets Grady Hospital twist in the wind over Medicaid funding and the ACA is a factor. It would be easy enough to build an independent rationale for each of these moves. But look at it together, and the larger pattern is clear — keep poor people from having contact with rich people as much as possible, socially, commercially and politically.

        This is the result. Metro Atlanta is class divided and has weak civic institutions. And it has lower income mobility than a Central American narcostate.

        You don’t have to hate Atlanta to want to serve your private self interest. The market incentive to live in the suburbs, away from panhandlers and poor schools, is clear. But there’s a “I’ve got mine, screw you,” thing there, too, that policy leaders can’t allow to fester.

    • saltycracker says:

      Sock knew from your first rambling sentences it was clear you are not interested in solutions often posted by conservatives.

  14. saltycracker says:

    The American Dream is a national ethos of the United States, a set of ideals in which freedom includes the opportunity for prosperity and success, and an upward social mobility achieved through hard work. In the definition of the American Dream by James Truslow Adams in 1931, “life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement” regardless of social class or circumstances of birth.

    The idea of the American Dream is rooted in the United States Declaration of Independence which proclaims that “all men are created equal” and that they are “endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights” including “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

    Cut from Wikipedia – American Dream

  15. Patrick T. Malone says:

    Perhaps we should absolve poor people from the last remnants of personal responsibility in doing something about their situation.

    • George Chidi says:

      And perhaps rich people should recognize that a statistically-significant part of the reason they’re rich involves the dumb luck of the circumstances of their birth, and behave with appropriate humility and grace when facing the human need of those who weren’t quite so lucky.

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