Finally! —

I must be thought-broadcasting again. Matthew Yglesias spells out what’s been bugging me for a long time about the David Brooks-inspired red state/blue state stereotypes (many of which have been completely debunked, but live on in a cherished fairy tale in the “liberal media”) and finds a study to back me him up. Matthew writes:

Their analysis of 2000 Census data tells us what everyone knows but pretends to forget — big cities are full of poor people. Around one quarter of the residents of America’s 100 largest cities are in the lowest fifth of the national income distribution, while just 16.6 percent of city dwellers are in the top twenty percent. The top three quintiles are underrepresented in cities, while the bottom two are overrepresented. Cities like New York and Boston are, despite the presence of a highly visible, well-educated, wealthy elite, actually “low-moderate” income places where there are fewer people in the top fifth than in the next fifth, fewer in that fifth than in the middle fifth, fewer in the middle than in the next-to-bottom, and fewer there than in the poorest quintile.

It’s not shocking stuff, when you think about it, but a useful corrective to a deplorable tendency among media-types to write as if everyone who lives in big cities is like them and their friends rather than like the folks who drive their cabs and clean their offices.

A useful corrective, indeed. It needs to be leapt upon as hard evidence of the classism and, yes, racism that is so deeply embedded in the conservative political platform and worldview. The bottom two quintiles of income distribution are overrepresented in Brooks’ “coastal metro blue areas” and completely ignored by purveyors of his “heartland” myth.


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  1. Thank you for this. I recently realized how often I see well-to-do Republican suits talking about “most people” and how “most” people see things the Republican-Bush way. Well, sure, if by most people they mean millionaires and near-millionaires. Which, by the way, is not most of us.

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