Wednesday, March 2, 2011
The revenge of the South
(The article below is by Kevin Fathi, a contributor to this blog.)
Being from the South, I can attest that there are some remarkable things about the American South. Fabulous authors like Harper Lee and William Faulkner. Civil rights heroes like Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. Southern food while not the healthiest cuisine is quite tasty. Beautiful geographical sites and wonderful cities such as New Orleans. Southern hospitality (yes it is real!).
Unfortunately, by many measures the South is quite regressive. Obesity and teen pregnancy rates are among the highest in the nation, high school graduation rates among the lowest. The worst feature of Southern life may be its economic model. A low wage work force, disdain for environmental standards, and corporate welfare in the form of tax credits are all features in this system. And it is viral.
Ed Kilgore of the New Republic has written an excellent article describing how the recent anti-union onslaught is an attempt to infect states such as Wisconsin,Ohio, and Indiana with the Southern model of economic development. It is terrifying to think that some apostles of the Southern model are thinking of running for U.S. president.
I'll present one example of what a prominent Southern apostle believes. Haley Barbour, the governor of Mississippi (both the poorest state and state with the highest rate of obesity) recently castigated President Obama for driving up the cost of energy. Barbour stated that "This administration's policies have been designed to drive up the cost of energy in the name of reducing pollution, in the name of making very expensive alternative fuels more economically competitive". Next, Barbour ranted about how difficult it is to get a coal mining permit or an offshore drilling permit. Apparently, Gov. Barbour missed last April's tiny oil spill and the minor coal ash spill in 2008. The ideology of the Southern apostles prohibits them from even contemplating ideas like oil depletion or environmental damage.
Imagine what could happen to Wisconsin or any other besieged state if such an ideology were allowed to take hold. Imagine what could happen to the entire country.