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Gremlins">

Yep, little kids and snow.

That's what Utah has more of than anyone else.

Utah has less of something else that surprised me.  There's more after the Halfpipe.

Utah has the lowest income inequality in the country.

More than any other Americans, Utahns live among neighbors whose incomes are similar to their own. The rich live with the rich, and the poor with the poor. But the overall range of Utahns’ household incomes is relatively narrow, too, with comparatively few who are exceptionally high- or low-income.

That’s according to a report released Wednesday by the U.S. Census Bureau looking at “neighborhood income inequality” between 2005 and 2009.

The state that is run by Republicans and whose residents think that Mitt Romney or Jon Huntsman would make a good president has low income inequality?  Wait, what?

It shocked me, too.

But what can we learn from this?  I was hoping that you could tell me.  After all, New York has a high rate of income inequality.  Certainly, the state that keeps electing Orrin Hatch to be senator can't be more progressive than New York?

The Republicans in Utah have decreed that we have a state income tax, unlike our neighbors in Wyoming and Nevada.  So eliminating income taxes may not be the key to prosperity.

Our Bipolar weather drives some of our poor people to Arizona, California or Nevada.  If Republicans sent your job to China, you might as well be poor in a place where you don't have to buy booze from the state monopoly and where the Easter Bunny can make his deliveries without tire chains and 4-wheel drive.

Maybe it's something I can't quite put my finger on?

This is a frozen desert.  It's tough to "go it alone".  

If you're rich; you realize that maybe you should hire a few extra people; even if they are temps.  They may pay tithing to your church with the income they earn at your company.  Or at the very least, they'll help you jumpstart your car in January when your Hummer's battery is dead.

Maybe it's just my Aspergers talking, but it seems to me that my employers here have hired more people than necessary.  Maybe that's why our income inequality is lower?

Well, the bottom line is:  I got nothing.  Just like Real Salt Lake against Seattle on Saturday night.  I'm as clueless about our sparking income inequality statistics as RSL's forwards will be against Sigi Schmidt's defense.

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Comment Preferences

  •  income desparity is completely relative (7+ / 0-)

    if there are 100 people who all earn between 28k and 128k there is a lot less income desparity than when you add that 101st person who earns 1.28 million.  the difference between NY and Utah is a super high concentration of the nations super high earners in a very highly populated state.  

    Jesus told me to tell you that if you believe that Jesus talks to people that you are fucking crazy.

    by Anton Bursch on Sat Oct 29, 2011 at 12:32:52 AM PDT

  •  try race (5+ / 0-)

    it an all white state in the main and the virulent racism of the Mormon Church kept it that way. Thus they don't have to deal with large populations of people of color and in migrations from the south or the poor from eastern europe. It's pretty simple once one takes a close look but if you want "income disparity" visit the Indian reservations and you'll see all you want. Of course some things like a sparse population also factors in but being monoracial and dominated by one Church are the main factors.

    America could have chosen to be the worlds doctor, or grocer. We choose instead to be her policeman. pity

    by cacamp on Sat Oct 29, 2011 at 03:24:53 AM PDT

    •  De que esta hablando, wey? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Odysseus

      Salt Lake City has to print ballots in Spanish now.

      In another sign of booming Latino growth, the federal government ordered Salt Lake County on Wednesday to start providing ballots, voter information and voting assistance in Spanish.

      Well, a few blond Argentineans may use these ballots.  But....

      •  check the power structure and census (0+ / 0-)

        But the main thing I'll tell you is that Utah isn't prosperous because the far right is in control or because conservative policies are right for the nation. As you seem to be hinting.

        I gave you a couple of reasons and there are surely some more but none are because the wingnuts are correct or that the Mormon social agenda is right.

        America could have chosen to be the worlds doctor, or grocer. We choose instead to be her policeman. pity

        by cacamp on Sat Oct 29, 2011 at 10:42:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  There is a religious aspect to it. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    G2geek, Wee Mama, slksfca, Odysseus

    Mormons take care of each other.  They also take care of others.
    When a family here in Iowa needed help years ago, my dad went on a quest for resources.  Our Catholic church had precious few to offer and the Salvation Army wasn't much better.  Don't ask me how he connected with the Mormons, but they came through for that Catholic family.  After that, my dad had a lot of respect for them.  There is a lot to be said for a faith community that lifts people up.  (I don't know squat about Mormon doctrine, but if they help people, I'm good with that.)

    -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

    by luckylizard on Sat Oct 29, 2011 at 03:34:40 AM PDT

    •  there is probably this: (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      luckylizard, Odysseus, Utahrd

      The Mormons were recent migrants to a harsh environment, where their doctrines about community and charity proved themselves in that climate.  Over time, as prejudices against Mormons were overcome and they felt free to live in other states, that meme-set went there with them.  

      Contrast to longer-established religions in various areas, where the direct feedback was not present between community/charitable values and the ability to survive in difficult environments: those communities may have lost the necessity for that connection, and their preparedness for difficult times suffered accordingly.  

      Natural selection works for humans too: traits that improve survival are reinforced, but if those traits have costs, they will tend to recede when they appear to no longer be needed.  

      Nature is parsimonious.

      "Minus one vote for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

      by G2geek on Sat Oct 29, 2011 at 04:35:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  They do have a (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Wee Mama, slksfca, Odysseus, G2geek

        "mission" orientation.  No doubt, their charity is influenced by the hope that they can convert some of its beneficiaries.  Still, I remain impressed that they were willing, eager, to help that family, without strings attached.  

        I live about an hour from Nauvoo, Illinois, and have been there several times with school field trips.  They have reconstructed many of the homes and businesses on the old foundations and give a great history lesson for the kids.  Of course, in the process, we also learned a lot about Mormon history here and the migration westward.  

        I cannot imagine leaving home in a covered wagon in the middle of winter.  That's how they managed to get across the Mississippi - it was frozen solid.  BTW, almost everyone walked from Illinois to Utah.  The wagons were unbelievably small and there wasn't room for people in them.  They had to carry everything they needed, including things like tools and machines to set up shop when they arrived.  

        -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

        by luckylizard on Sat Oct 29, 2011 at 04:58:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, the handcart Mormons walked. That trail (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          luckylizard, slksfca, G2geek

          passes through Iowa City and that particular cohort was left in a situation without much cash so built handcarts.

          Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

          by Wee Mama on Sat Oct 29, 2011 at 05:33:26 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I've seen the memorial plaque (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            slksfca, Wee Mama, Odysseus, G2geek

            at the rest stop east of IC.  It is beyond imagining that people could bear such hardships.  Even now, with all the modern conveniences, winter here can be a daunting and dangerous thing.  

            I used to try to tell my students about carrying everything you need with you.  There was no Kwik Shop between here and Utah in the 19th century.  I also went looking for tall grass.  There is still a little of it around.  I'd bring it to the classroom and tell them to imagine the whole of Iowa covered with it - no roads or even a path.  Heck, it's so tall that you wouldn't have been able to tell where you were going until you hit a rise (and I only got the stuff that was around 6ft. tall...).

            -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

            by luckylizard on Sat Oct 29, 2011 at 05:42:56 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  In fact... (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Wee Mama, Odysseus, G2geek

            ...many walked (or walked a good portion of the way), not just the ten handcart companies (I've read many journals and other accounts, including some from my own family).

            ...that particular cohort was left in a situation without much cash so built handcarts.

            Cash was a pressing issue through the entire migration of the 1850s-'60s, especially for the European immigrants, so much so that the church established the Perpetual Emigration Fund to assist.

            Many people (including too many Mormons) either don't know or have forgotten that there's a long history of social justice/equality there, as reflected by the experiments in various flavors of communitarianism they attempted from the 1830s to the 1880s. Tithing (to reference your other comment) is the vestigial remnant of that history.

            I don't think the church today does nearly enough with its wealth, but it does much better than often given credit for, particularly in Africa and Latin America.

            There are, in every age, new errors to be rectified, and new prejudices to be opposed. ~Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

            by slksfca on Sat Oct 29, 2011 at 06:33:11 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  tools & machines: good sense of priorities. (0+ / 0-)

          That speaks volumes about a culture, that they would recognize the need for tools & machines even to the point where it meant using their wagons to haul them and walking alongside.  

          That guarantees a better outcome at the other end, than by taking the easier path of carrying less equipment in order to have a more comfortable trip.  

          It also makes sense of some of the strict Mormon doctrines about things such as coffee and tobacco.  They couldn't grow them along the way, carrying them would have cost space on wagons that was needed for essentials, so they just put in place a religious proscription against such "decadent luxuries" and that took care of that.

          I can respect that among people who have committed to walk a thousand miles through difficult territory with no paths or anything else to make the journey easier.  

          "Minus one vote for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

          by G2geek on Sat Oct 29, 2011 at 08:15:06 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  tithing. A serious commitment to spending 10% of (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    slksfca, Utahrd, Odysseus

    your money not on yourself has consequences. Since the Mormons for the most part don't have paid clergy more of the money goes into taking care of people.

    cacamp has identified another important dimension but I do wonder sometimes how it might change the world if all people of good will chose to spend 10% of their income on improving the situation of those in greatest need.

    Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

    by Wee Mama on Sat Oct 29, 2011 at 05:35:56 AM PDT

    •  Auditors come from Satan (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Wee Mama

      There are better sources than me for material on this.  Like at exmormon.org

      But the Mormon church does run some social programs and spend some money on disaster relief.  

      Needless to say, no auditors are allowed anywhere near their holy financial statements.  But a little money (not enough) ends up with good causes.

      •  Auditors are a terrible idea... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        slksfca, Wee Mama, Odysseus

        ...but the principle of tithing—as a commitment one makes to oneself, rather than to an outside body who's going to get to pore over one's financial records—is a good one, I think.

        I make an effort to tithe to the church I attend as well. (We're Episcopalian, so there's not an auditor in sight.)

        I think even progressives who aren't religious could offer a tithe of sorts, committing to give 10% of their income to charitable or justice causes even in lean times. I've found that especially when money's tight, it's a great practice for figuring out the difference between "needs" and "wants."

        "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

        by JamesGG on Sat Oct 29, 2011 at 07:48:25 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I had a fascinating conversation with a liberal (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JamesGG, Utahrd

          Democrat Mormon about tithing. I explained that Episcopalians are encouraged to be intentional about giving, always bearing in mind that we are stewards, not owners, but that for some giving 3% might be sacrificial while others probably should give 30-40% away. His eyes widened at that!

          At the end he summarized our conversation by saying that it seemed like Mormonism was like a French garden while Anglicanism was like an English garden.

          Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

          by Wee Mama on Sat Oct 29, 2011 at 08:46:27 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Ron Sider has an interesting book about that. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Odysseus, Wee Mama

            Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger suggests that for affluent Christians, a tithe often should be a significant percentage of their income.

            I've taken a different tack personally; I give 10% now, but I've decided to set an income cap for myself. If I make more money than that cap—which is enough for me to live in decent conditions and save money away for a house and/or retirement, and is flexible in case I do have a family in the future and need to provide for them as well—100% of that is going to justice causes.

            Anglicanism as an English garden is a fascinating metaphor... I'll have to think about that a bit more.

            "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

            by JamesGG on Sat Oct 29, 2011 at 08:52:08 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Anachronism? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Utahrd, Odysseus

    Utah in some ways is like the Mayberry RFD of the 1960's... lots of small businesses, fairly ethnically homogenous, people tied into extensive social networks (i.e. Mormon residents), no real boom and bust cycle with major industry starting up and then jobs being exported.  I think this may explain some of it.  Utah has been less subjected to the major upheavals in the US economy.

    “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

    by ivorybill on Sat Oct 29, 2011 at 06:25:30 AM PDT

    •  Pretty much (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ivorybill

      St George (down in southern Utah near Arizona) had a "Las Vegas/Phoenix" style real estate boom.  And the subsequent bust.

      But you may be right.  

      •  Wasn't that mainly caused by retirees - many of (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Utahrd

        whom were not Mormon and were attracted by the low housing prices, good weather, and nearby Nevada gambling?

        "Democrats treat dogs like people and Republicans treat people like dogs."

        by Templar on Sat Oct 29, 2011 at 07:12:51 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I was there last week. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Templar

          Much to my delight, I saw a little construction going on.  It seemed to be putting a play area on to the McDonalds.  Hey, it's a start.

          But you're right; lots of retirees were moving there before corporate crooks drained most people's 401 K's.

    •  Donde esta Mayberry, compadre? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ivorybill

      This isn't your father's Utah.  Lots of Latinos and Polynesians here.

      •  Minorities growing faster, but still < 15% (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ivorybill

        -7.75 -4.67

        "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

        There are no Christians in foxholes.

        by Odysseus on Sat Oct 29, 2011 at 09:16:08 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Get your point (0+ / 0-)

        but I've got a (gay) brother who lives in southern Utah.  He just can't quit the Colorado Plateau, even if the social environment is not a particularly good fit for a gay man wth a drinking problem.  His environment is pretty much all Anglo and Mormon.

        I'll say this about the Mormons - on average, they are less likely to be bigots than your standard evangelical, despite the whole recent history about dark skin being a sign of God's displeasure.  Mormons who go on mission abroad and spend time among poor folks in Latin America or Africa get the whole shared humanity thing.  I think, for example, that Romney and Huntsman are by far the least bigoted of the whole GOP bunch (and that include Herman Cain, who seems to have a thing against Latinos and lots of strange ideas about African Americans too)  That's to their credit.  I consider the Mormon religion absurd, but don't necessarily think poorly of all Mormons.

        “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

        by ivorybill on Sun Oct 30, 2011 at 02:34:25 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  similar in Vermont (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus

    though I won't pretend our skiing can match the magical snow of the Wasatch. I once watched four inches evaporate off a railing at Alta, leaving no water behind.
    But homogeneity and a history of survival in a harsh climate (thanks for the reminder, Irene) do have a lasting effect on the larger culture.
    Small population and limited big business help, too.

    Class war has consequences, and we are living them.

    by kamarvt on Sat Oct 29, 2011 at 07:03:42 AM PDT

  •  And then there is the old story that when the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Utahrd

    pioneers arrived at Fort Bridger Wyoming they were greeted with a sign having a left arrow and the words "Utah" underneath.

    Those that could read went on to Oregon!

    "Democrats treat dogs like people and Republicans treat people like dogs."

    by Templar on Sat Oct 29, 2011 at 07:06:36 AM PDT

  •  I'd wager that Mormonism has a lot to do with it. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus

    Because of the religion's history of persecution, Mormons have tended to form more tight-knit communities with strong bonds between people—and thus, the average dollar circulates within the community more times before leaving, thus spreading the wealth a bit more.

    The same thing happens with the Korean/Korean-American community in LA, from an article I read a few years back; because the money circulates within the community more times before leaving it, the community as a whole is more prosperous.

    This, I think, is a good lesson for progressive community-building and locality community-building: Local business works. Economists have demonstrated that the more times that dollar bill bounces around town before leaving for the home offices of the MegaCorpCo conglomerate, the more prosperous a community will tend to be, and the more likely that more people will have jobs, good incomes, etc.

    "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

    by JamesGG on Sat Oct 29, 2011 at 07:44:43 AM PDT

  •  The income inequality (0+ / 0-)

    is between the wealthiest 1% and the rest of us. And of that 1%, it's the top bracket of those people that have really stretched the top of the charts. So it's simple. Find out how many of the top 1% live in Utah. That's probably your answer. Some of the 1% may have resort homes there, but do they actually claim that as their primary residence?

    I know which side I am on: the one that does the math.

    by Grassroots Mom on Sat Oct 29, 2011 at 08:27:39 AM PDT

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