The Airing of Grievances
Tuesday, December 07, 2004
...Because, In The Blue States, We Eat Our Young
David Brooks, in his unending quest to throw a label on every single thing he comes across, writes a true gem of Red State-Blue State idiocy in today's New York Times. The latest installment has to do with those cute Red Staters who Brooks loves so much, and their propensity to pump out offspring at rates that Brooks apparently feels should make us Blue Staters envious to the point of political pandering. The piece contains so much in the way of generalizations, circular logic and intellectual dishonesty, it truly boggles the mind that he felt like he could get away with it, in the Times no less. In the words of the Black Eyed Peas, let's get retarded:
Young families move away from what they perceive as disorder, vulgarity and danger and move to places like Douglas County in Colorado (which is the fastest-growing county in the country and has one of the highest concentrations of kids)
Anyone who's read "Fast Food Nation" would know that a huge chunk of Colorado's population growth over the last ten years has come from a massive influx of newly immigrated Hispanic workers to the Denver suburbs, on top of the white-collar workers Brooks prattles on about. (Interestingly, Brooks later cites only white fertility rates to support his claim of Red States being veritable Xanadus for the family. How conveeeeeeeenient.) One estimate ascribes as much as 25% of the growth in Colorado's population over the last ten years to just this migration. To be sure, these workers are attracted by the bountiful (but hardly gainful) employment opportunities in the service sector created in response to the growth of the white collar suburb population that Brooks is trying to write about. After all, someone needs to flip your burgers and make your lattes. But more on that in a second.
If you wanted a one-sentence explanation for the explosive growth of far-flung suburbs, it would be that when people get money, one of the first things they do is use it to try to protect their children from bad influences.
From what I see, when people get money, real money, one of the first things they do is spend it on useless crap like Robosapiens. Whatever.

Thanks to an extended period of low interest rates, personal savings rates are near all-time lows and a massive consumer debt burden is the norm, not the exception. This isn't exactly what you would expect from people with the Focus on the Family mentality that Brooks ascribes to huge swaths of our population. If parents are so concerned about their children's well-being, they certainly aren't doing much towards saving for college or providing for any sort of backstop in case of an emergency. What assets they do have are tied up in their dwelling. What if, shock! horror!, the real estate bubble bursts?

As for the explosive growth in far-flung suburbs, a logical person would think that would have to do more with the tax incentives offered by municipalities to both employers and the citizens in question. Since the locales are more spread out across a mostly unlimited landscape, a feature not available to urban areas, this translates in to housing on demand, as opposed to the supply nightmares that blue areas like New York and San Francisco exhibit. Let's not even get into the fact that the much more lucrative Blue State tax base finances much of the freewheeling Red State suburban existence. The end result is an overall lower cost of living in the suburbs, borne out in such things as cheaper energy and food prices, lower property taxes, and more convenient and cheaper transportation to your employer. No wonder moms and dads in suburbs are more willing to have unprotected sex - the economic environment suits them.
So there are significant fertility inequalities across regions. People on the Great Plains and in the Southwest are much more fertile than people in New England or on the Pacific coast.
Well, duh. Again, Brooks confuses supposed red state "values" with simple economic decision making. He goes on to cite the cost of $200,000 for a middle-class family to raise a child - even though Brooks writes for the Times, I can't imagine he lives in New York or any other urban area, if he feels like he can drop a fact like that devoid of any context. Sure, it costs $200,000 to raise a kid. In Dubuque.
Natalists resist the declining fertility trends not because of income, education or other socioeconomic characteristics. It's attitudes. People with larger families tend to attend religious services more often, and tend to have more traditional gender roles.
This is biggest intellectual turd Brooks lays down. What he says may well be true for some, but he offers it with no supporting facts or references, assuming you, the dumb sheep, will take it at face value. By connecting large families with both red states and higher chuch attendance, Brooks takes the logical leap of faith that these people must exist on a higher moral plane. But, as we've all seen since the moral values fallacy of the 2004 election was exposed, divorce rates, teen pregnancy rates, and porn superstores seem to be thriving in the Red states that Brooks loves so much.
Natalists are associated with red America, but they're not launching a jihad.
Thank God for that - those fuckers have all the guns. Seriously, the point of this long-winded diatribe is this: labels and easy generalizations only work for the lazy journalists who can do nothing creatively but employ them. The more I read garbage like this, the more worried I become that people buy in to it, lowering our social and political discourse even further.
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