I have recently been combing through different maps of the United States of America and I have noticed an alarming trend taking shape. What I have found is that there are almost two separate nations with two sets of beliefs and ideologies. It is not just one or two issues that create this rift, but there is indifference in almost every aspect of life. The differences are separating us further, creating the Divided States of America (Or as I call them, America and ‘Murrica). Keep in mind, I am not arguing any point here, I am just producing factual data and evidence. Take it however you wish. Let’s take a look.
Red States vs. Blue States
The first map we will look at is a basic map you have seen many times. It separates conservative red states from liberal blue states. Red states tend to vote Republican and blue states tend to vote liberal. Although it seems as if more states are red, some of the most populous states are blue. The purple states on the map are called swing states, and are composed of a mix of conservatives and liberals, who vote differently in different elections.
Next, we will take a look at poverty level by state. The darker blue shows the poorest states in the nation, where more than twenty percent of the residents live below the poverty line. It gets even worse when you look at what percentage of children live below the poverty line in each of these states.
Part of this may be due to the erosion of skills due to poor education, but a large portion of this poverty can be traced directly to stagnant wages in certain regions. And it also may cost less to live in some of these areas, but the myth that low income/low wage areas are beneficial have been debunked numerous times. In fact, these areas cost more of our tax dollars, but we will get to that later.
This map shows median household income by state. The darker the blue, the more money people are paid. You will notice a corellation between the map displaying poverty and this map, as the poorest states all have the lowest median incomes in the nation. In fact, the income in some of these states have actually seen a decline.
And if you listen to conservative talking heads, who claim higher wages create less jobs, you may assume that the states with higher wages would have higher levels of unemployment. However, this next map shows the exact opposite. The darker the shading, the higher percentage of people who are unemployed. Most of the states with the lowest wages have the highest unemployment, with California being the exception.
This map shows which states are considered Right-To-Work states. Right-To-Work movements are perpetuated by pro-business groups who look to weaken workers’ unions. We can see a direct relationship between Right-To-Work weakening unions and lower waged, poverty stricken states.
We all know that children are the future, right? Well, some states would make you think that they have no regard for children once they are out of the womb. These two maps show the critical conditions in which children are forced to live. The map on the left ranks childhood well being, and the map on the right shows the percentage of children living in poverty. The usual suspects fall at the bottom of this list as well.
Education is the key to being successful. We as a nation should be making it a top priority to give every citizen a decent education, and to allow access to affordable higher education that actually educates. However, certain states refuse to recognize the importance and the results speak for themselves.
This is a map of the best and worst public school systems in the country. The more red, the worse the education, the more green, the better. There is no bias in these numbers, as even conservative the think tank American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has a list of the best and worse education systems.
This next map shows graduation rate by state. The darker blue states have a higher percentage of high school graduates. This is part of an interactive map from higheredinfo.org. You will notice the corellation between the worst school systems and low graduation rates. For a more comprehensive look, here is a site showing how states rank in certain statistical categories.
There is direct correlation between education, job skills, higher wages, and not being poor. It starts with educating our children, giving them the skills and tools they need to succeed.
The claim is always that liberals are trying to keep people dependent on government, but this map shows the exact opposite. This map shows which states pay more in taxes and which states receive more welfare. It shows that red states tend to receive more assistance than blue states by a wide margin.
It would make sense that low income states need more assistance, regardless of what some politicians and pundits like to say. And here we see another direct correlation that is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore.
This map is another way to demonstrate this information. It is the ratio of benefits received to taxes paid. Now, this map looks slightly different than some of the rest, but the worst states tend to be the same states that are far down in almost every category.
This data is taken directly from the IRS data, and it shows which states are the real “welfare queens”. There is always misinformation being passed around on this issue, but these are bipartisan numbers.
This map shows which states rely most on Federal Aid. It displays the percentage of the state budget that goes toward welfare programs and government assistance. Once again, the poorest states, with the lowest wages and worst educations, need the most government assistance. Who would have figured?
So, if you keep them dumb, uneducated, and poor, they will be dependent on government. Which states’ policies seem to keep more people dependent and under government control?
This first map looks at which states in the US have high gun ownership. The darker purple, the more guns per person. The map also shows the states with the highest percentage of firearm deaths. The results are from 2009, but hold true today.
People will look at this and immediately point out Illinois and Washington, D.C. and how high their death rates are despite fewer guns. This overlooks the fact that for decades and decades, these areas had had high crime and murder rates brought on by widespread corruption and poverty. The tougher laws are pretty new and have not been in effect long enough to be the blame for these rates.
This next map shows the most and least strict gun laws by state. The tan colors have the most gun deaths and the blue have the fewest. The grade attached to each state is the grade the state received for smart gun laws by advocacy groups on both sides.
Now, we always hear that more guns will keep us safer. The NRA makes this claim all the time. Well, later on we will compare some of these numbers to attempt to find some truth.
Next is the concealed carry laws by state, and which states are easier or more difficult to get a permit. The blue states allow for concealed carry and it is quite simple to get a permit. The darker colors are for states that make it more difficult or have completely banned concealed carry.
Now we have the states with the most firearm deaths per population. If you notice, the states with the loosest gun laws, and the states with the worst grades, tend to have the highest gun mortality rates. If this does not disprove the “More guns, more safety” argument, maybe some other statistics will.
Crime and Murder Rates
While the US murder rate has been declining across the board, in almost every state or major city, murder is still an issue. This map shows which states have the highest murder rates. The darker the red, the higher the rate.
The states with the loosest gun laws actually have higher murder rates, contrary to the beliefs of many conservatives and gun enthusiasts. Louisiana, in this instance, has the worst murder rate in the nation, despite concealed carry laws and a high volume of gun owners.
This is another map that shows violent crimes, including murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. The red states have the highest rates, and green have the fewest. This also disputes the notion that more guns make rape victims, or robbery victims safer.
The truth is that states with the highest violent crime rates are mostly red states with loose gun laws. California and Illinois are not even the exceptions in this case, although DC, along with the entire state of Maryland seem to buck the trend.
Prison and Punishment
We’re #1, We’re #1! Well, when it comes to locking up our citizens for nonviolent, victimless offense, America is number one in the world. And, yes the trend continues, some states are so much better at it than others.
Now there are many reasons why people end up in the prison system, but there are two overwhelming corellations. Poor people, and people with less education, tend to end up in prison in much greater numbers. We have already seen how poor and uneducated these states are, but the deeper you dive in, the worse it looks.
This map compares the amount of college dorm housing with the amount of correctional housing in each state. The red states have more prisons, the blue states have more dorms. Some states actually have more people in prison than college graduates, and most of these states spend more per prisoner than per student each year. These states actually have a greater percentage of people in prison than other entire nations.
This map shows the number of death row inmates per one million people. Now, these numbers make obvious sense since some states do not even have a death penalty. But once again, certain states rank much higher on this list than others. And these numbers fall directly in line with the number of executions since the 1970s.
One issue that gets debated a lot is the legalization of marijuana for medical or personal use. Considering how many people serve jail time for possesion of such a harmless drug, this is a much bigger issue than most realize. Isn’t it ironic that the party that scream about liberty and freedom still wants some of the strictest pot laws on the books, yet have no objections to alcohol, which has been proven to be more harmful both long and short term.
America’s affinity with punishment seems to start with our children, at least in some states. This map portrays the states that are for or against corporal punishment, or physical discipline in schools. There are nineteen states that allow corporal punishment, as opposed to thirty-one states that are against it.
The states that allow it also have higher prison population, lower levels of education, more crime and guns, and are the poorest of the states. These states do not even give children a chance, they ruin them from such a young age that it is no wonder these maps look this way.
Health and Health Care
Health is another thing that divides the states. The issue is not just health care, or insurance coverage. This first map ranks the states according to overall health. The statistics were compiled from the 2014 Gallup-Healthway Well Being Index which examines the comparative well-being of the 50 states. The darker the green, the healthier the people.
This next map looks at obesity rates in each state. The darker the red, the higher rate of obesity. You will notice, once again, that the poorest, least educated states are also the least healthy states with the highest obesity rates. Is this a coincidence? Or can we attribute it to something more?
This map shows the overall healthcare system rankings by state. The numbers were compiled as part of The Commonwealth Fund’s Scorecard on State Health Performance for 2014. It measures the current state of the healthcare system, as well as long-term prospects and sustainability. It shows why some of these states have such poor health and high obesity rates.
Access to quality health care is an issue throughout the country, but an even bigger issue is that in parts of this nation, there is little to no access at all for large portions of the population. This map, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, shows the number of uninsured people in each state. While this map differs slightly from others we have looked at, it is still quite similar.
Now that we have identified which states have the worst health, highest obesity levels, and are riddled with poor health care and uninsured citizens, we can look at the states willing to give their citizens help by expanding Medicare. It is a scary thought that the states that need the most help are the same states refusing to expand Medicare. These states are seeing a much greater increase in costs than states that have approved expansion.
Civil Rights and Equality
I started this article talking about two different countries. And technically, there was a time when we may have been considered two nations, when southern states seceded from the north, forming the Confederate States of America. If you notice, these states are the same states that are ranking in the bottom of all these lists and maps. These maps have looked this way for decades, even centuries now.
This is a map of hate groups per 1 million people. The darker blue means more hate groups. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, with the exception of Idaho and Montana, the majority of hate groups in this country reside in the southern, former Confederate states. This is no coincidence, as there have always been enormous racial tensions in the area, and the number of groups have risen incrementally since 2008 when President Barack Obama was elected.
This map shows the stance of voter ID laws by state. Voter ID laws have been proven to disenfranchise minorities, as well as low income citizens. In fact, young, minority college students are affected by these laws disproportionately more than almost any other group. The Supreme Court recently nixed a portion of the Voting Rights Act, which was in place to target discriminatory practices by individual states, namely states with a history of racism.
Since the repeal, the old Confederate states are at it again, passing some of the strictes laws in the country on people atempting to vote. It is almost equivalent to a poll tax, which is not legal or constitutional. In fact, in some states it is easier to buy an assault weapon than it is to vote, and we have already discussed the gun issue.
This map shows which states are more favorable to women. According to the Center for American Progress, the the study measures three categories that are critical to women’s overall well-being—economics, leadership, and health. It seems that states that are unfriendly to minorities are equally unfriendly to women.
This map takes a look at suffrage and a women’s right to choose. One thing I found interesting is that some states that were for women’s rights in the early part of last century have almost completely switched their stance over the decades. Now, some of these states have some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the world, let alone the U.S. What created the change toward this new ideology? I may have an idea.
Religion has played a huge role in American ideology. Despite the Constitution’s clear cry for a separation of church and state, some states pass laws based on religious ideology. This map looks at how religious each state is, where the darker green signifies a more religious population. A Gallup poll tells us how important religion is in each state. The majority religion in the United States is Christianity.
Here is a map showing which branch of Christianity is most prevalent in each state. you will notice the more religious states all tend to be Southern Baptist, right along the Bible Belt. Once again, it seems the more religious states are also the poorest, least educated, overweight people in the country. That goes against any message of Christianity I have ever heard. But the results speak for themselves.
An Alarming Trend
I have outlined many different maps displaying many different issues. I am sure by now, if you have read to this point, that you must have noticed a specific trend in our map. Certain states rank at the bottom of almost every statistical category, without fail. It has been said that keeping people poor, hungry, and uneducated makes them much easier to control. In this case, people from some of these states have been tricked into voting against their own best interests. Whether it be for racial, religious, or political reasons, certain states are falling far behind the rest of us. It just so happens that red states are the most prominent when it comes to mindless sheep being led to the slaughter, all the while villifying the people who are trying to save them from it.
It is beyond me how anybody can look at these maps and not see a problem. It makes me angry that people may even attempt to justify why things are the way they are. It infuriates me that despite this evidence, people will cling even tighter to their beliefs that have already been disproven. We truly are two seperate nations, that much is obvious. One nation is educated, prosperous, healthy, and somewhat equal. I call that nation America. The other nation is poor, ignorant, hateful, and pious. I call that nation ‘Murrica.
This next generation can move us in one direction or the other. One ideology will win out, because the two together are not sustainable in the long term. We need to make a decision on which direction we move in and it starts now.
If you have any comments or criticisms about this article don’t forget to Sound Off below