But it’s ok, because he’s a liberal.

Michael Lind in his recent article argues that the South is rising up again, this time in an economic civil war against the North. My first reaction was to think, “Well, at least he didn’t call us Nazi’s”. That’s progress. But because of the North-South divide of the auto bailout, yeah, the Civil War analogy is the nearest weapon at hand.

It’s hard to know where to begin with this intellectually lazy piece, but let’s start with the “race-to-the-bottom” business. Lind describes Southern strategies for employment as a “race to the bottom” by providing a low tax environment and cheaper labor. Labor was cheap in the South in the early part of the century for a simple reason, they didn’t have any jobs. In the thirties, what Lind and other talking heads would refer to as, “the glory days”, if a Southerner wanted to get a good wage job and didn’t come from the right family or own enough property, there was one good option…move North. That is, until the Tennessee Valley Authority handed out shovels for us to lean on. This is the model to which Lind wants to revert. When he says more money will flow from Blue states to Red States, he means that more government jobs must be created. You know, more road projects and more ditches dug, and more Southerners leaning on shovels.

Toyota is now edging GM in terms of market share. Japanese and German cars are superior to American cars in every division except trucks, and even trucks are close. the Toyota Prius has been around for 11 years and has been running rings around the Little Three with 40% of the hybrid market share. Building Toyotas, Hondas, and BMWs provide good jobs at $50/hr. These well paid blue collar jobs go to American citizens who pay taxes into the the system, but Lind naturally thinks that Southerners daring to get off the government teat while producing superior products that Americans actually want to buy is a race to the bottom.

Foreign car companies have been eroding away at market share for decades. The economic model of the Little Three is a failure, as demonstrated by the fact that they need a bailout despite a half century of a near oligopoly in the largest market in the world. A legacy of hostile relations between management and employees, and a top down, inefficient distribution model, and an incomprehensible groupthink preventing investment in smaller model fuel efficient vehicles are the culprits of the Little three’s downfall, not some Souther Senators. Even supporters of the auto bailout concede that bankruptcy is inevitable, they just feel that the bailout is a good jobs program. I’ve stated my ambivalence to allowing the American auto industry to go bankrupt while shoveling money into institutions like AIG making a profit on the deal, but the near consensus that these companies will come back for more, and soon, and the few concessions were made by the industry leads me to believe that the only way to innovate the American auto industry is to broker a bankruptcy. As with many tough decisions, Bush kicked the can down the road. Thankfully he bailed out a failing industry, for which he will get minimal credit, only after the GOP burned their bridges in the midwest. Politically, this kind of passive leadership is a disaster for the GOP.

There are a lot of other things wrong with this piece, but I’ll add two quick points. A raise in the minimum wage would not directly affect auto workers making well over minimum wage. But it would increase unemployment levels for a decade, similar to the glory days of the 1930s. Also, and this is a caveat that should be added to any article criticizing the flow of tax money from blue states to the South, is that states like Louisiana, Mississippi, and Virginia have a lot of blacks, and blacks use public services to a much larger degree than other groups. What they need in this country is a job, and if that job is at Wal-Mart or at a BMW plant, it is better than a TVA job, because that is the only option. Ford would rather build a plant in Brazil than build in the south, with right-to-work laws in place. Also, if Lind wants stronger unions he should get on board with a majority of Americans and support shipping illegal immigrants back to their home country so negotiations between management and labor won’t be undermined by cheap, quasi-legal labor. Perhaps he can dig up some old Mexican war related analogies.

Another Southerner invokes the Civil War
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2 thoughts on “Another Southerner invokes the Civil War

  • I would like to further understand where you got your information that “blacks use public services to a larger degree than other groups.” I am somewhat confused with this statement. What public services are you speaking. As an educated African-American from the south (thankfully, I am somewhat removed), I have not received any more public services than you have probably received. Yes, I attended a public high school and even a state college. At each institution, there were more whites than me. If you consider roads, water and sewage; whites are using at an alarming rate.

    In my opinion, what the south needs is an education. If you examine statistics, this goes for blacks, whites, and hispanics. I don’t think it was irony that McCain carried the south without an agenda that would benefit them. He had no plan for job creation or educational opportunity. He spoke about a moral authority, but admitted he hadn’t attended church regularly in years and was a divorcee. He faught viciously to continue a failed foreign policy and wanted to keep tax breaks for the rich while the middle-class suffered.

    You also mentioned right-to-work laws in the south. We have those laws in Texas and we are the largest exporter in America. Plus, our ecomomy continues to grow despite the ecomomic downtown (due largerly to credit greed and NO regulation of corporate corruption). Right-to-work favores employers, not employees.

    Yes, blacks need jobs in the south. In my experience many don’t have them because of their color. Tackle that and you might get somewhere.

  • Thanks for stopping by, Mr. Lewis, and please come again. I know it stings to read these kind of words, but a young black man is 6x more likely to be in jail than a white man. Black unemployment is 10%, whereas white unemployment is ~4%. Section 8 housing, in states that have large black populations, is provided largely to blacks. You have to go to mostly white states like Kentucky to find more whites in public housing. If one is in jail, public housing, or unemployed, one is not throwing in to the public kitty. And before you blame whites for unemployment I think you need to ask why any off the boat Korean or Indian can open a liqour store or kwik-e-mart or motel in any ghetto in this country and turn a handsome profit and American blacks cannot. There are plenty of black cab drivers here in America, surprisingly they are all from Africa. Why is that? Tackle that and you might get somewhere.

    No matter the skin color, a culture of people who feel that cash is to purchase the things you want and government (or other forms of charity) takes care of the rest is burgeoning in our society, and the result is generation after generation of people that don’ t know how to earn a wage. The quick fix for this for the previous administrations is to import cheap labor from Mexico. It boggles my mind why blacks in America aren’t more vocal about Mexicans taking their jobs. I link to a story above in which blacks unionized a slaughterhouse in order to keep their jobs and prevent an influx of Mexican immigrants. Bully for them.

    I do like how you mention that the Texas economy is vibrant due in part to right to work laws. The fact that Texas is a leading exporter means to me that it can be a good model for other states. If every state had Texas economics we may not have such large trade deficits, which would be a good thing. I’m sure if you did a random survey at the Texas Tundra plant, you would find several employees who would disagree with you on right to work laws.

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