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Cities, business, polarization, extremism

July 10, 2014

PP-2014-06-12-polarization-3-03Business is concentrated in cities. Few people realize how much: The seven largest metropolitan areas in the US produce a quarter of its economic output, and a mere twenty-three produce half.

Conservatives allegedly like business. The graph left from a recent Pew survey on political polarization shows that they don’t much like cities.

That Pew survey uses a series of alternate statements to determine political orientation. On business matters, there was this choice:

“Most corporations make a fair and reasonable amount of profit.”

“Business corporations make too much profit.”

I’d have a hard time agreeing with either. Most corporations lose money. Often because of poor execution. But even when people do things right, it is the nature of capitalism to act like most evolutionary algorithms, rewarding a few winners in every niche, often based on current circumstance that couldn’t be well predicted when those businesses were launched. Evolutionary algorithms are productive; not necessarily fair and reasonable. The second claim might be interpreted in the aggregate. Somehow, I suspect those who assert it don’t do so more or less as aggregate business profits rise and fall.

So, I don’t like the statements that Pew thinks characterize the extremes. But as Ezra Klein points out, that doesn’t make me what the pollsters call moderates, which in his view, are just a different kind of extremist.

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