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Tue Feb 19, 2013, 04:00 PM

Southern poverty pimps

The “original sin” of the Southern political class is cheap, powerless labor


Contemporary American politics cannot be understood apart from the North-South divide in the U.S., as I and others have argued. Neither can contemporary American economic debates. The real choice facing America in the twenty-first century is the same one that faced it in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries—Northernomics or Southernomics?

Northernomics is the high-road strategy of building a flourishing national economy by means of government-business cooperation and government investment in R&D, infrastructure and education. Although this program of Hamiltonianism (named after Washington’s first Treasury Secretary, Alexander Hamilton) has been championed by maverick Southerners as prominent as George Washington, Henry Clay and Abraham Lincoln (born in Kentucky to a Southern family), the building of a modern, high-tech, high-wage economy has been supported chiefly by political parties based in New England and the Midwest, from the Federalists and the Whigs through the Lincoln Republicans and today’s northern Democrats.

Southernomics is radically different. The purpose of the age-old economic development strategy of the Southern states has never been to allow them to compete with other states or countries on the basis of superior innovation or living standards. Instead, for generations Southern economic policymakers have sought to secure a lucrative second-tier role for the South in the national and world economies, as a supplier of commodities like cotton and oil and gas and a source of cheap labor for footloose corporations. This strategy of specializing in commodities and cheap labor is intended to enrich the Southern oligarchy. It doesn’t enrich the majority of Southerners, white, black or brown, but it is not intended to.

Contrary to what is often said, the “original sin” of the South is not slavery, or even racism. It is cheap, powerless labor.

Before 1900, the cheap labor was used to harvest export crops like cotton and lumber. Beginning around 1900, Southern states sought to reap benefits from the new industrial economy by supplying national manufacturing companies with pools of cheap, powerless labor as well. For a century now, Southern state economic development policies have sought to lure companies from high-wage, high-service states, by promising low wages and docile workers. Texas Governor Rick Perry’s recent appeals to California businesses to relocate to the Lone Star State are the most recent example.


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DonViejo Feb 2013 OP
d_r Feb 2013 #1
meow2u3 Feb 2013 #2

Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 04:38 PM

1. k and r

it oversimplifiews some things but is dead on.

misses the use of faith and "values" to get single issue voters to vote against their own best interest.

misses the upper ses using race and ethnicity to get working class fighting each other instead os the rich who are taking everybodys money.

misses part of the impact of slavery and plantation. being born after generations of haves and bhave nots.

but gets to the point of it.

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 05:28 PM

2. The South can't legally enslave anyone anymore

so having cheap, powerless workers is their only alternative.

Southern conservatives think paying workers what they're worth and treating them like the human beings they are are the sins, not underpaying them and stripping them of their humanity.

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