18 January 2012

Fat, stupid, ignorant, and devout

Have you ever noticed the odd correlation between conservative views and virtually every negative social trend? Here we have the 2008 electoral map:

And here you have recent state comparisons of obesity.

As would be expected, the correlation isn't perfect, but it's pretty close. Conservatives (especially those in the staunchly conservative bible-thumpin' south) tends to be fatter. This comes as little surprise, in a sense. Since conservatives can't believe climate scientists who tell them things they don't want to hear, why should they believe the doctor who tells them they need to shed some pounds to stay alive.

Recently, Gingrinch made some assinine claim that Obama has put more people on food-stamps than any other president (actually, Bush holds the record--mostly accomplished before plunging the country into an economic crisis). And if we look at which states put more people on food stamps, once again the red states are at the top of the pack:

Below we have high school graduation rates by county.  This map seems to line up pretty well with the above maps as well.

This helps understand why so much of the conservative rhetoric seems so juvenile. Many of the targeted voters have the education levels of children. This doesn't bode well for conveying complex environmental issues to the public. Since the uneducated have no benchmark to tell if the media is exaggerating any scientific finding, I don't know how to interpret the following chart. But the difference is stark.

Uneducated populations are also easily swayed by corporate propaganda demonizing unions, so it comes as little surprise that the red states tend to have less union representation (and hence, tend to have low wages). Research has shown that not just individuals but states as well benefit from unionization.

We should also mention that it's a bit odd that conservatives want to get rid of the nanny state since conservative states (along with several of the northeastern states) benefit most from federal aid relative to their tax contributions. If the conservative politicians in Congress are really so keen on getting rid of earmarks, they should start at home.

Many of the conservative states also tend to be the most violent:

And they tend to lead the country in per capita incarceration rates (the darker colors show higher rate, with over 650 per 100,000 people for the reddest conservative states such as Mississippi, Louisiana , and Oklahoma):

And they've led the U.S. in per capita executions:

Of course, many of these fat, ignorant, anti-environmentalist, violent, science-denying folks tend be "deeply religious." 

In short, the word "conservative" seems to be an apt label for a syndrome--a long list of psychological and cultural maladies--that wreak havoc on both individuals and communities. The U.S. would be so much better off if we could let the Republican Party die its natural death and allow the Democrats to fill the role of corporate-backed  corrupt party of political hacks (we only need one such party after all). We could then work on establishing a truly alternative party far to the left of the Democrats that could address real problems with real solutions.


Karlo said...

One happy aberration from the pattern seems to be Utah. While voting conservative, they seem to be much less fat, ignorant, and violent. Maybe the conservative disgruntlement with Romney stems from the recognition that he ain't a "real" conservative.

Vancouver Voyeur said...

Of course that aberration in Utah consists of a lot of Mormons who pour millions of dollars into elections to sway them. Look at Prop 8 in CA. Very observant post.

Diana said...

Excellent analysis Karlo.

Jazzbumpa said...

Great post.

Lots of leg work here.



wunelle said...

A brilliant and, I'd say, unanswerable indictment.

I've known generally of this trend for quite a while, though you've covered the material in much greater detail.

This is one of those areas where reality very inconveniently puts the lie to politics and aspirations. The right can CLAIM what they like, but the reality shows their ideas simply do not work: abstinence, unfettered free markets, jebus; these things lead inexorably to just what you indicate.

(Doesn't this seem like an egregious failure of our media? How is the BS not called continuously?)

Rhodesian Poet - Andy Rhodes said...

Thanks for your research.

I discovered a lot of the same data and some other related studies. I created a blog post titled, "The more extremely conservative, liberal or religious a society is, the more dysfunctional it seems to become":


Overall, what I found was that among Western nations and individual states within the U.S., those which are the most conservative and religious are the most violent and plagued with far greater social problems in categories like overall crime, infant mortality, environmental abuse, teen pregnancy, incarceration, life expectancy, poor educational systems, murder, healthcare efficiency, average worker to CEO pay ratio, paid maternity leave, obesity, income inequality and minimal worker’s benefits. For example, on the Quality of Life Index for 2010, the United States – the most religious and conservative country in the developed world – ranked 33rd overall, 39th in health, 24th in education, 17th in wealth, 15th in democracy, 77th in peace, 38th in environment.

Karlo said...

I'll check out the page-it sounds interesting. And thanks for commenting.