Regional Stereotypes For Fun and Profit

Further data showing regions to more or less conform to their cultural stereotypes. For the fun of it, I’ll oversimplify and exaggerate the conclusions:

  • Upper Midwesterners are conservative-minded progressives and socialists who are healthy in mind and body.
  • Appalachians are rightwing-minded regressives and corporatists who are unhealthy in mind and body.

Where Are the Country’s Least Happy and Healthy Americans? New Studies Reveal America’s “Sadness Belt”
By Melanie Foley

Gallup and Healthways recently released their annual Well-Being Index for 2012, and Appalachia was found once again to be home to some of the least healthy and happy Americans. The most striking result of last year’s Well-Being Index is that while the happiest states are spread throughout the country, the lowest ranking states are all clustered in Central and Southern Appalachia, and the region’s neighboring states.

Why Is Socialism Doing So Darn Well in Deep-Red North Dakota?
By Les Leopold

North Dakota is the very definition of a red state. It voted 58 percent to 39 percent for Romney over Obama, and its statehouse and senate have a total of 104 Republicans and only 47 Democrats. The Republican super-majority is so conservative it recently passed the nation’s most severe anti-abortion resolution – a measure that declares a fertilized human egg has the same right to life as a fully formed person.

But North Dakota is also red in another sense: it fully supports its state-owned Bank of North Dakota (BND), a socialist relic that exists nowhere else in America. Why is financial socialism still alive in North Dakota? Why haven’t the North Dakotan free-market crusaders slain it dead?

Because it works.

In 1919, the Non-Partisan League, a vibrant populist organization, won a majority in the legislature and voted the bank into existence. The goal was to free North Dakota farmers from impoverishing debt dependence on the big banks in the Twin Cities, Chicago and New York. More than 90 years later, this state-owned bank is thriving as it helps the state’s community banks, businesses, consumers and students obtain loans at reasonable rates. It also delivers a handsome profit to its owners — the 700,000 residents of North Dakota. In 2011, the BND provided more than $70 million to the state’s coffers. Extrapolate that profit-per-person to a big state like California and you’re looking at an extra $3.8 billion a year in state revenues that could be used to fund education and infrastructure.


6 thoughts on “Regional Stereotypes For Fun and Profit

  1. It has always interested me that the its actually the red states that tend to have socialist like programs they ignore in their national rhetoric: the Alaskan oil tax, the North Dakota banking system, the Georgia HOPE grant. Funny how all that works.

    • The red states like the Upper Midwest are ‘conservative’ in the more normal dictionary-definition sense of the word. I’ve always thought that socialism, like communalism, with its emphasis on the group and on community is inherently ‘conservative’ in that it seeks to conserve the public good of group cohesion and community health.

      They are also conservative in another sense in that they want socialist public good for those they identify with at the local level: their states, their cities, their communities. But they don’t want to participate in any socialism that might help anyone else they don’t identify with.

      Georgia is a different kind of state, regionally and demographically. I’m not as familiar with its history.

      I don’t know about the George HOPE grant. Okay, I just looked it up on trusty Wikipedia. It is a more recent program created in 1993. I wonder what Georgians were doing during the Populist and Progressive eras. A lot of the socialism implemented earlier had to do with farmers.

      • Yeah, actually, it supported William Jennings Bryant mixture of light proto-social welfare state and fundamentalism with a lot of racism thrown it. But the union busting movement was much more advanced there because the anti-union movement came there BEFORE industrialization. The South was late to industrialize and the gains of the other mid-regions of the country were crushed. But it’s crucial to remember that as far as the Dixiecrats go, they until the swap in the 1970s held FDR as an icon. He was extremely popular in the South.

    • For quite a long time, I’ve been woefully aware of my own ignorance when it comes to more local politics, history and culture. You occasionally mention something about Georgia that entices my curiosity. North Dakota is yet another state I know next to nothing about which is why the socialist bank intrigued me.

      That is why I spoke of stereotypes in this post. Stereotypes and ignorance go hand in hand.

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