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July 22, 2013

Oh My: Study Shows that Taxes on the Rich and Subsidies for the Poor Have Almost No Effect on Income Mobility (That Is, "Rising Up" Socio-Economically)

But here are three factors that correlate highly with income mobility:

1. Coming from an intact, two-parent family

2. Good schools

3. Civic engagement with churches and other social organizations

Um... this study is obviously racist because it just recapitulates every racist Republican presidential platform since 1984.

There's also a fourth:

4. Living in neighborhoods containing a mix of higher-income people

I think that fourth one is about keeping the idea of aspiration and betterment alive in kids' minds-- you sort of need to see that people who play by the rules prosper by the rules.

This completely damns Blue State Welfarism. As if Detroit, where 47% of the population is functionally illiterate, didn't establish that case already. You will therefore not hear of this again.

Let me quote Mark Steyn on Detroit, given this suggestion by the study that "White Flight" -- or middle class flight -- does in fact hurt the poor.

With bankruptcy temporarily struck down, we’re told that “innovation hubs” and “enterprise zones” are the answer. Seriously? In my book After America, I observe that the physical decay of Detroit — the vacant and derelict lots for block after block after block — is as nothing compared to the decay of the city’s human capital. Forty-seven percent of adults are functionally illiterate, which is about the same rate as the Central African Republic, which at least has the excuse that it was ruled throughout the Seventies by a cannibal emperor. Why would any genuine innovator open a business in a Detroit “innovation hub”? Whom would you employ? The illiterates include a recent president of the school board, Otis Mathis, which doesn’t bode well for the potential work force a decade hence.

Given their respective starting points, one has to conclude that Detroit’s Democratic party makes a far more comprehensive wrecking crew than Emperor Bokassa ever did. No bombs, no invasions, no civil war, just “liberal” “progressive” politics day in, day out. Americans sigh and say, “Oh, well, Detroit’s an ‘outlier.’” It’s an outlier only in the sense that it happened here first. The same malign alliance between a corrupt political class, rapacious public-sector unions, and an ever more swollen army of welfare dependents has been adopted in the formally Golden State of California, and in large part by the Obama administration, whose priorities — “health” “care” “reform,” “immigration” “reform” — are determined by the same elite/union/dependency axis. As one droll tweeter put it, “If Obama had a city, it would look like Detroit.”

One of the strange excuses I hear for Detroit's downfall, and the downfall of many cities, is "White Flight." It is suggested, though I don't understand how this could possibly be suggested, that if whites decide that a city is becoming too expensive and too unlivable and remove their families to the suburbs in order to give their children a better and safer life, they have somehow committed a great social breach, bordering on a Hate Crime, for which they should be held responsible.

By, say, giving a central city the power to tax far-flung suburbs. After all, they committed a hate crime. The injured parties are entitled to recompense.

Of course this makes no sense -- no one "owes" anyone their physical presence. If you want to keep someone living in your city, do not constantly throw burdens upon them and attack their interests.

But it is interesting that this study found that the neighborhoods with a mixture of income levels had a positive impact on the income mobility of those of lesser means. It would suggest that "respectable" sort of people -- the strivers, the savers, those who keep their lawns neat and cars washed and one day visit their kids at college on Homecoming Day -- have a useful functioning of establishing a positive social norm throughout a community and, by doing so, send a virtuous ripple throughout the civic pool.

And so that would tend to suggest that "White Flight" -- or, again, Middle Class flight, as middle class minorities flee horrible cities like Detroit, too -- does tend to hurt the poor, not just as far as diminishing the tax base which funds welfare programs, but also as regards establishing a general environment of propriety and ambition which has powerful secondary effects on wealth creation.

And this, I think, should be borne in mind by city government: a government that is run purely for the government-paid civil servants and government-dependent welfare class will quickly drive out the middle class and with it a host of socially-useful norms that would otherwise help lower-class people attain middle-class status. Constantly beating on a city's productive classes, always seeking to tap the stone for another drop of blood, will simply drive them away and leave the city bankrupt not only as far as actual wealth but as far as intangible wealth like social capital, lawfulness, and work-habits as well.

Corrected: Detroit's population is 47% functionally illiterate, not 42% as I first wrote.

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posted by Ace at 02:58 PM

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