Geographic Inequality

Steve’s folks called with good news over the weekend. His mom’s brother and wife are going to retire just 20 minutes away from them in North Carolina. Steve’s folks retired to the area from Cleveland about ten years ago, and we’ve always been worried about their distance from extended family. Now, they have people to spend holidays with, when they can’t make the trip up to us.

They sent me a link on Zillow to their new house, so I spent a little time checking out the other homes in the area. Those homes — perfectly nice places with a couple of bathrooms and three bedrooms — are a quarter of the price of homes in my neck of the woods. This is why people are leaving the metropolitan regions, like Chicago and New York.

Not really a big deal, I suppose. If North Carolina can offer people a better quality of life than the older cities, then good for them. Families, like mine, that need alternative schooling options for disabled children and have work tied to the big cities can never go there, but there are many families who are more flexible. So, good for them, right?

However, if some areas of the country are homes of the rich and others are homes of the middle class, working class, and retirees, then it does open up some political problems.

Imagine if the representatives from some states become advocates not for the interests of the particular local industries, ie Iowa farmers, West Virginia coal miners, but for entire economic classes, ie New York Rich People and North Carolina Retirees. Then political debates would be less about opposing commercial interests and directly about class. I suppose it is that way now, but those economic tensions could be more obvious and competitive than they are already.

Any discussion about changing the electoral college or representation in Senate would also become strongly charged with these economic tension.

Sidenote — If we limit the voice of small population states in the electoral college and the Senate, it might make affairs more democratic, but it would also mean a massive disinvestment in the entire center of the country. There would be no federal projects for highway construction in Nebraska, say or farm subsidies in Iowa. There might be really cheap homes out there, but there would be no way to drive to those houses.

The growing affluence of big cities is going to have long term political implications.

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Labor Day Weekend = APSA = GeekAlert by Macaroni

APSA 2 by Macaroni

One of my research areas is the study of bloggers and the blogosphere. Currently I'm writing a piece on that examines how Clinton and Obama used  blogs during the 2008 primaries. This is all well and good, but I have not started analyzing any of the data for the impending American Political Science Association's Annual Conference, held Labor Day weekend. The paper I will present at APSA investigates political blogs that focus on New York state politics, during the three month period leading to the budget.


Why
haven't I begun? Below I offer some alternative explanations:

 1. I'm
blogging for the first time. Why start a new research project?  

 2. I'm
waiting for the research fairy to materialize.      

 3. I
despise content analysis. T.E.D.I.O.U.S   

 4. I'm
pondering "to sample or not to sample, that is the 
question."       

 5. I
want to go to the beach.   

 6. I
have no summer funding, and just found out. (Yes, don't ask.)   

 7. Does
anyone care about state politics? (Well, yes, thanks to scandalicious
NJ.)  

 8. I'm
contemplating another research project titled, "Dirty, Sexy
Governors."   

 9. I
want to finish the Clinton/Obama paper before delving into a new paper.     

10. Spending
Labor Day with poorly dressed political scientists is frankly depressing (
Laura and Dan)