Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Folly of Southern Hospitality

I'd never thought I'd agree with the main points of an article written by a consistently anti-Southern writer -- one who's so bad, he's even listed on the Southern Poverty Law Center's blog roll -- but here it is for the world to see. In an article that could've been titled, "Reconstruction goes into overdrive," John Sugg exposes the dirty business of taxpayer-funded corporate subsidies. It's most prevalent, he says, in the states of the former Confederacy:

But there’s one part of the country that’s especially quick to throw taxpayers’ money at businesses in the hope of creating jobs and raising tax revenue. For the last 70 years, the idea that businesses need special inducements to locate themselves in the South has become ingrained in the region’s public policy. The general theme in Southern politics is to be “pro-business,” which politicians interpret to mean pro-subsidy.

What's wrong with attracting business to the South? First of all, as Sugg reveals, there's little or no connection between these lavish subsidies to big business and job creation. Subsidies not only go to big business, never to small, local businesses, but are certainly politically motivated. Politicians like to brag to their constituents about how they've created jobs by bringing in corporations, and the opening of a new plant always offers photo-ops. And something politicians like even more than publicity are the donations that roll in from grateful corporations. No better formula for corruption could be conceived. And Sugg dishes out plenty of examples.

Worse, writes Sugg, public subsidies create a vicious cycle: politicians fill the corporate troughs, corporations take all they can, and then move on to new areas to find new victims after the subsidies end. So much for job creation.

Sugg correctly notes how the process began after Appomattox:

Efforts to lure Northern factories southward began in the aftermath of the Civil War. Henry Grady, editor of The Atlanta Constitution in the 1880s, championed a scheme known as the New South. The general idea was to industrialize and diversify the former Confederacy’s economy; in practice, this meant offering Northern-owned companies cheap Southern labor in exchange for tolerating Dixie’s white supremacist policies.

(Seeing as how Jim Crow laws were birthed in the North, we'll overlook that last judgmental sentence as irrelevant -- for now.)

But it's important to recall that the South's loyalty to agriculture wasn't just economic, but also moral, philosophical, and political. As early as 1816, Thomas Jefferson described the real division between North and South which would grow and erupt into the Civil War:

The alternatives between which we are to choose [are fairly stated]: 1, licentious commerce and gambling speculations for a few, with eternal war for the many; or, 2, restricted commerce, peace and steady occupations for all. If any State in the Union will declare that it prefers separation with the first alternative to a continuance in union without it, I have no hesitation in saying 'let us separate.' I would rather the States should withdraw which are for unlimited commerce and war, and confederate with those alone which are for peace and agriculture.

When war came, it was clear that it was a war between two economic and political systems, as opposed to the post-war propaganda that it was a great, noble war of liberation. In the real world, nations do not go to war to do good deeds; they go to war for power, land, and treasure.

This, too, was noted at the time:

"Lincoln's determination received the hearty applause of powerful northern interests. Eastern manufacturers worried that they would lose Southern markets to European competitors because of the Confederacy's free-trade policy. Yankee merchants and ship builders faced an end to a monopoly on the South's coastal trade that the government granted to US vessels. Holders of government securities were edgy about the Union's loss of tariff revenue." Jeffrey Rogers Hummel, professor of History and Economics, Golden Gate University, San Francisco, Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men: A History of the American Civil War (1996)

Foreign observers quickly comprehended the real issue the South faced:

"The Northern onslaught upon slavery was no more than a piece of humbug designed to conceal its desire for economic control of the Southern states." Charles Dickens (1812-1879) literary champion of the poor, in an 1861 article.

To industrialize, the South had to be rid of its Jeffersonian traditions. The post-bellum race to reconstruct the South into a Northern clone, then, was as much of a reconstruction of Southern culture as it was of the Southern economy. No doubt many of the Southern advocates of industrialization believed they were making the South more competitive -- and every Southerner knew by heart Rhett Butler's speech about the inability of an agrarian society to repel an industrialized invader.

But in the drive to "balance" industry and agriculture in the South, industry has taken over. Just as the Twelve Southerners warned, industry has not lived up to its promises. In fact, the "welfare-warfare" regime we have today is just as warlike and destructive of our liberties and money as Jefferson foresaw. To restore genuine economic balance, and to revive the Jeffersonian model of independent freeholders as the foundation of republican institutions, small, local business and local food production need to be revived.

That's why the League is working on a new model for pro-Southern activism. It's still in the works, but it intends to revive the distributist, pro-producer vision of Jefferson, John Taylor, and the Twelve Southerners. As we've argued previously, reviving local economies are now an economic and social necessity, not a nostalgic indulgence. The hidden pitfalls of globalism will continue to rouse more citizens, activists, and patriots to action, and all they'll need is a plan to guide them.

Stay tuned.


At July 9, 2008 9:02 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mike, thanks. But I'm not anti-Southern. Half of my family is from Key West, dating back to the 1830s, and several were blockade runners. Many of the rest have proud Southern heritage. The largest portrait at the Chickamauga
battlefield visitor center (at least, last time I was there) is of my direct ancestor, Col. Cyrus Sugg of the 50th Tennessee Infantry, who was mortally wounded in the battle.

But being proud of my family doesn't mean I embrace the foolishness of many Southerners today, which is often just thinly disguised racism, ignorance and intolerance. States rights, as a ruse to perpetuate inequality, is just plain wrong and (since I'm a good Methodist) sinful. I'm proud the SPLCenter touts my blog -- being anti-Klan doesn't equate with being anti-South, and I'd argue that Morris Dees has done a lot more for the South than, say, Roy Moore.

Again, there is common ground. We agree on the modern-day carpet bagging.

John Sugg

At July 10, 2008 8:06 AM , Blogger Harold Thomas said...

A Northern perspective. The whole subsidy thing has also been costly to Midwestern "Rust Belt" states as Southern subsidies build auto plants in Tennessee and North Carolina, instead of Ohio and Michigan, which have the trained labor force to run them. This is part of the reason Ohio and Michigan have been in recession for seven years, instead of just a few months.

Your article mentions Jeffersonian values as being traditional to the South. They are also traditional to the Midwest (at least prior to the growth of major railroads c. 1850). Jeffersonian values are sustainable, and need to be reintroduced here, if we are to effectively cope with the hard times ahead.

At July 10, 2008 10:07 AM , Blogger Saddlegait said...

This is very interesting. Alabama currently competes very successfully for foreign auto manufacturers. We have a Hyundai and Kia plant near Montgomery and they have spawned the "influx" of many subsidiary service plants for the products they need.

When I first saw you header I felt offended. It's southern hospitality that draws people here to one another. We open our doors, we feed you, we entertain you. But I believe you may be right.

One of the reasons these plants are drawn are the offers from the municipalities and the labor rates compared to those rates/standards in northern areas. However, the local Walmart Distribution Center near us has a very hard time keeping it's work force. I wonder if they have such turnover rates in the northern locations? Our locals simply do not cotton to the harshness of the hours and the lack of personal sense of pride in what they do. Even with better than average wages, many of them do not last long.

We have a great work ethic in the south but it's a work ethic that involves ownership in job and ownership in skills.

Manufacturing companies from other areas and countries do not seem to understand that. Many complain of being treated like cattle.

Economically however, the tax revenues and the revenues from utility consumption, etc have boosted our local municipality's ability to survive in a world that is consuming or killing off the small towns. However, many other small towns are now virtual ghost towns.

At July 10, 2008 10:12 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Upon the ruins left by the war, there was little left to work from. An entire economy had been completely destroyed. The Bourbons, despite their good intentions, did more harm than good. And complete seizure and exploitation of all our natural resources by Northerns greatly added to the problems. The tarrifs that were so detrimental to the Southern interest never went below 40% till Wilson. I read recently (don't remember where) that villagers flocked into the slums made famous by Charles Dickens and created by the English industrialist as a result of various reforms and acts imposed by the ruling elite. Perhaps the same could be said of the South and the drive from the farms to the Yankeefied cities. How to pry off the blood suckers that bleed us dry will be interesting to learn.

At July 10, 2008 12:30 PM , Anonymous jimvkruse said...

And they only lowered tariffs in the teens as a quid pro quo to get the Southern senators to vote for the 16th Amendment.

Mr. Sugg, it would be appreciated if you took your lies, half-truths, and bs somewhere else.

At July 10, 2008 1:30 PM , Blogger Michael Tuggle said...

John Sugg,

I've noticed how the South keeps popping up in your articles, but it seems to do so more as a target than an object of affection. Honest criticism can certainly be a sign of a deeper loyalty than the simple display of flags, but article after article condemning the Battleflag, equating the South with Nazi Germany, and Southern pride with racism -- that's not honest, or constructive criticism -- that's cultural genocide, period.

Your defense that being "anti-Klan doesn't equate with being anti-South" is a cheap straw man argument, something I'd expect from an Ed Sebesta, but not from a John Sugg. If you'll review the League's website and blog, you'll see we are opposed not only to racial hatred, but also to the initiation of violence, whether it comes in the form of forced busing or one of DC's "humanitarian" invasions.

States' rights maintains that the Constitution sets limits on the powers delegated by the sovereign States to the central government, and that DC's usurpations of any powers not specifically given are illegal. The idea was to prevent the tyranny that inevitably arises from over-centralized government. That was the Founders' intent, and the impetus driving Southern political thought from Jefferson and John Taylor, to Richard Weaver and Sam Ervin.

For that reason, I have a much bigger problem with egalitarianism as a ruse for domestic and foreign interventionism. Let the central government get away with assuming powers not expressly delegated for the noble purpose of "tolerance," and the next thing you know, it'll invade helpless nations in the name of spreading democracy, and claim the power to ignore the 4th amendment in the name of national security. Yes, it's the same slippery slope, and you're spreading Vasoline.

Finally, I'd say Morris Dees and his SPLC money-making machine are less concerned with improving the South than they are helping DC consolidate its power and guaranteeing a steady flow of cheap, exploitable labor to big business. Not a cause I'd want associated with my family name.

At July 10, 2008 5:58 PM , Blogger Brock Townsend said...

Pray tell what good Dee$ has done for the South except increase the worth of whatever bank he uses?

The Despicable $outhern Poverty Law Center (Seven accounts. BT)

At July 10, 2008 7:56 PM , Blogger Pawmetto said...

Mr. Sugg
Get a REAL life.. not one of a Scalawag..
Lucky You
I'm in a mild mood tonight!


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