Why is the south so poor?

ericgtr12

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Chew Toy McCoy

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What, bailing out Cletus and all of his confederate flag waving Trump supporting buddies so they can keep their trailers and bitch about welfare recipients not good enough for them?


Maybe they're still dedicated to proving that the south isn't economically viable without slavery. :oops:
 

SuperMatt

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Over history, it always seems that the south is behind the times when it comes to economic trends. As the north was becoming industrialized, the south was still heavily focused on agriculture. Over time, they moved into manufacturing... but the north had already moved into the tech fields.

Is it partially about the slow-paced southern culture too? I don’t know.

The aftermath of the Civil war left the south with destroyed infrastructure and their economy was based on slavery, so it took a long time to recover from that too. But, as the right-wingers like to say when you mention reparations “that’s ancient History!” So if the south is poor, I guess it’s just their own fault?
 

Alli

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I dunno about the rest of the south, but the good people of Alabama can’t even be arsed to send in their census. So the state doesn’t get as much money as it should.
 

Yoused

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I read that the agricultural practices antebellum were unsustainable and the land was simply being overtaxed. The South was in good shape at the beginning of the 19th century, but by the time of the civil war, they were in serious decline.

Now, though, one has to ask, are the Southern states really poor, is it a misperception (for what reason) or is Southern culture just ill-suited to creating properly balanced prosperity? I am pretty sure that there are well-off areas, like Atlanta, Miami, Alexandria, but they always seem to be obscured by barefoot hillbillies, in much the same way as we hear about plane crashes or riots because they are more newsworthy than millions of eventless flights or peaceful protests.

My feeling is that, if a state is chronically on net assistance, there is probably something being done wrong. Society/culture is being managed in a way the revenue is poorly distributed, so a lot of money is getting wasted.

My perception is that an unbalanced culture (arbitrary, stratified, oppressive) costs more than to strive toward being fair and just. For instance, there have been a few studies that show that it is cheaper to simply provide digs than to let homelessness fester. To my inexpert eye, the South, in general, looks like a culture based on imbalance, and they are paying the price.
 

Renzatic

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Prejudice, bigotry, and general intolerance.

Everyone here might try to convey the impression that they're all a chilled and laid back bunch, but it doesn't take long before you discover that a large number of them have sticks shoved so far up their asses, they can just about taste the tree it came from.

I think it all comes down to the fact that they've built this nice little bubble world around them, away from the rest of the world. They enjoy being in it, and that's their right, but they have this tendency to overreact, treating every little intrusion as an absolute threat. If things aren't perfectly square and tidy, where there's a specific place for everything, and everything has its place, then they think it's all falling apart.
 

Alli

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Everyone here might try to convey the impression that they're all a chilled and laid back bunch, but it doesn't take long before you discover that a large number of them have sticks shoved so far up their asses, they can just about taste the tree it came from.

I think it all comes down to the fact that they've built this nice little bubble world around them, away from the rest of the world. They enjoy being in it, and that's their right, but they have this tendency to overreact, treating every little intrusion as an absolute threat. If things aren't perfectly square and tidy, where there's a specific place for everything, and everything has its place, then they think it's all falling apart.

Social OCD? We’ll call it ECHIP - Every Community Has Its Place. There shalt be no overlapping of communities.
 

lizkat

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Social OCD? We’ll call it ECHIP - Every Community Has Its Place. There shalt be no overlapping of communities.

There's no lack of that in the north either, believe me.

But as to the poverty of the South in the USA, some compounding causes:

a) grounding the South's economic engine in slave labor during colonial times​
b) eventual decision to protect a slave-supported economy via secession​
c) losing the Civil War​
d) physical devastation of major cities in the South and pillaging of plantation​
e) brutal imposition of US military governance of states in the South, and a wholly inadequate reconstruction effort, trying to protect the rights of free slaves while also attempting to convince them that "contract labor" on plantations would "be different"... resulting largely in rejection of that idea and flight of some freed slaves to the north; then for those who remained, the rise of tenant farming and sharecropping, and use of gang labor (contract labor) by poor whites at plantations that had not been abandoned.​
f) premature conclusion of official reconstruction efforts, effectively at the time military governance and the monies to pay for it were withdrawn from the state capitals... extreme poverty and rise of a bitter racism, replacing a former patriarchal but condescending view by whites as "looking after" blacks prior to their emancipation.​
g) influx of carpetbaggers from the north, eager to avail themselves of cheap labor in setting up mills, mines, absentee-owned agriculture, exporting profits to the north​
h) total absence of any ensuing "truth and reconciliation" to this day, short of some local endeavors in and teaching of restorative justice​
i) lingering antipathy towards a strong federal government, so emphasis on state's rights... [ this goes to even to the absurd extent of stuff like having a big ceremony when a locality gets a federal grant for economic improvement, but with the local or state officials asking the federal agency involved to please kinda tone down the fact that the dough is from the "gubmint" and just at the ceremony let's just talk up how much money it is and how pleased the local guy is that this has been arranged.]​
j) letting religious influence percolate into local and state government. Plays to "the culture wars" and also affects at least K-12 education prep for college or jobs.​
k) lingering historical antipathy towards taxation in general makes it hard to invest in public education and creates unwillingness to engage in cooperative part-funding of social efforts regarding housing, nutrition, health care etc. with federal programs. The aversion to such programs and to taxes as oppressive is profoundly related to pre-Civil War fears in the south about slavery ending up taxed or possibly even abolished (and therefore making planters' livelihoods economically unsustainable) if a majority of the population were ever allowed to decide such matters. Interesting piece about that.
 

Chew Toy McCoy

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Everyone here might try to convey the impression that they're all a chilled and laid back bunch, but it doesn't take long before you discover that a large number of them have sticks shoved so far up their asses, they can just about taste the tree it came from.

I think it all comes down to the fact that they've built this nice little bubble world around them, away from the rest of the world. They enjoy being in it, and that's their right, but they have this tendency to overreact, treating every little intrusion as an absolute threat. If things aren't perfectly square and tidy, where there's a specific place for everything, and everything has its place, then they think it's all falling apart.

Kind of reminds me of watching the show American Pickers. They are often out in the sticks and as somebody who lives in possibly the biggest expensive suburbia in the country, I see these large properties with plenty of acreage and countless structures and they may not be in the best shape but it's theirs. Than you find out they've been living their for 3 or more generations. That's like a bubble in a bubble. Of course it must be nice to not have to worry about rent or a mortgage, but there's probably a heavy brainwashing tax.
 

Chew Toy McCoy

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There's no lack of that in the north either, believe me.

But as to the poverty of the South in the USA, some compounding causes:

a) grounding the South's economic engine in slave labor during colonial times​
b) eventual decision to protect a slave-supported economy via secession​
c) losing the Civil War​
d) physical devastation of major cities in the South and pillaging of plantation​
e) brutal imposition of US military governance of states in the South, and a wholly inadequate reconstruction effort, trying to protect the rights of free slaves while also attempting to convince them that "contract labor" on plantations would "be different"... resulting largely in rejection of that idea and flight of some freed slaves to the north; then for those who remained, the rise of tenant farming and sharecropping, and use of gang labor (contract labor) by poor whites at plantations that had not been abandoned.​
f) premature conclusion of official reconstruction efforts, effectively at the time military governance and the monies to pay for it were withdrawn from the state capitals... extreme poverty and rise of a bitter racism, replacing a former patriarchal but condescending view by whites as "looking after" blacks prior to their emancipation.​
g) influx of carpetbaggers from the north, eager to avail themselves of cheap labor in setting up mills, mines, absentee-owned agriculture, exporting profits to the north​
h) total absence of any ensuing "truth and reconciliation" to this day, short of some local endeavors in and teaching of restorative justice​
i) lingering antipathy towards a strong federal government, so emphasis on state's rights... [ this goes to even to the absurd extent of stuff like having a big ceremony when a locality gets a federal grant for economic improvement, but with the local or state officials asking the federal agency involved to please kinda tone down the fact that the dough is from the "gubmint" and just at the ceremony let's just talk up how much money it is and how pleased the local guy is that this has been arranged.]​
j) letting religious influence percolate into local and state government. Plays to "the culture wars" and also affects at least K-12 education prep for college or jobs.​
k) lingering historical antipathy towards taxation in general makes it hard to invest in public education and creates unwillingness to engage in cooperative part-funding of social efforts regarding housing, nutrition, health care etc. with federal programs. The aversion to such programs and to taxes as oppressive is profoundly related to pre-Civil War fears in the south about slavery ending up taxed or possibly even abolished (and therefore making planters' livelihoods economically unsustainable) if a majority of the population were ever allowed to decide such matters. Interesting piece about that.

Great summary. Would it be safe to safe that oil kept Texas from suffering the same fate? Firmly a red state, but somewhat not seen as backwards or unevolved as the rest of the south.

Kansas is a weird one to me. Over the last decade or so they've seemed to put in some serious PR effort into advertising they are just as ignorant and religiously dark ages, if not more so, than the more famous south east states.
 

lizkat

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Great summary. Would it be safe to safe that oil kept Texas from suffering the same fate? Firmly a red state, but somewhat not seen as backwards or unevolved as the rest of the south.

Kansas is a weird one to me. Over the last decade or so they've seemed to put in some serious PR effort into advertising they are just as ignorant and religiously dark ages, if not more so, than the more famous south east states.

Texas fascinates me. LBJ fascinated me.

Both held and Texas still does hold all manner of contradictions, writ extra large.

I keep meaning to read more about Texas history in the time after the Civil War and before the oil patch made for some serious swagger out there. The politics of some of those early oil guys were about as far right as one could get before falling off the edge of the coffee table. Eisenhower paid a price in at least exasperation with some of them, per Bryan Burrough in his book The Big Rich:

While accepting their money and favors, Eisenhower in private could be scathing about his new friends in Texas oil. "Should any political party attempt to abolish Social Security, unemployment insurance and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again," he wrote his brother in 1956. "There's a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H.L. Hunt and a few other Texas oil millionaires. Their number is negligible, and they are stupid."
Much to their eventual chagrin, the national politician who became most closely identified with Texas oil during the 1950s wasn't the statesmanlike Eisenhower, but the blustery junior senator from Wisconsin, Joseph McCarthy.

Well Ike sure got it wrong about at least the number of oilpatch rightwingers being "negligible" -- or else they just got really loud while they got rich before they started getting poor again. My favorite political hangout oriented to Texas is Juanita Jean's, not least because she picks up some cartoons I manage to miss.. but she's a stitch to keep up with on Texas politics.


Kansas, well... I have no idea why that state became a bastion of religious conservatives. Another mystery I keep meaning to look into.. from a distance. But that state is not one of the poorest ones in the USA by any means, even if these days more and more farmers are going under from the combination of trade wars, ongoing consolidation and debt from having to upgrade the tech of their equipment.
 

Scepticalscribe

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There's no lack of that in the north either, believe me.

But as to the poverty of the South in the USA, some compounding causes:

a) grounding the South's economic engine in slave labor during colonial times​
b) eventual decision to protect a slave-supported economy via secession​
c) losing the Civil War​
d) physical devastation of major cities in the South and pillaging of plantation​
e) brutal imposition of US military governance of states in the South, and a wholly inadequate reconstruction effort, trying to protect the rights of free slaves while also attempting to convince them that "contract labor" on plantations would "be different"... resulting largely in rejection of that idea and flight of some freed slaves to the north; then for those who remained, the rise of tenant farming and sharecropping, and use of gang labor (contract labor) by poor whites at plantations that had not been abandoned.​
f) premature conclusion of official reconstruction efforts, effectively at the time military governance and the monies to pay for it were withdrawn from the state capitals... extreme poverty and rise of a bitter racism, replacing a former patriarchal but condescending view by whites as "looking after" blacks prior to their emancipation.​
g) influx of carpetbaggers from the north, eager to avail themselves of cheap labor in setting up mills, mines, absentee-owned agriculture, exporting profits to the north​
h) total absence of any ensuing "truth and reconciliation" to this day, short of some local endeavors in and teaching of restorative justice​
i) lingering antipathy towards a strong federal government, so emphasis on state's rights... [ this goes to even to the absurd extent of stuff like having a big ceremony when a locality gets a federal grant for economic improvement, but with the local or state officials asking the federal agency involved to please kinda tone down the fact that the dough is from the "gubmint" and just at the ceremony let's just talk up how much money it is and how pleased the local guy is that this has been arranged.]​
j) letting religious influence percolate into local and state government. Plays to "the culture wars" and also affects at least K-12 education prep for college or jobs.​
k) lingering historical antipathy towards taxation in general makes it hard to invest in public education and creates unwillingness to engage in cooperative part-funding of social efforts regarding housing, nutrition, health care etc. with federal programs. The aversion to such programs and to taxes as oppressive is profoundly related to pre-Civil War fears in the south about slavery ending up taxed or possibly even abolished (and therefore making planters' livelihoods economically unsustainable) if a majority of the population were ever allowed to decide such matters. Interesting piece about that.

Absolutely brilliant post; I'd almost recommend having it as a sticky. Indeed, if I was still teaching, some of the points would make their way into my own class notes (suitably cited, naturally).

Terrific thread, by the way, intelligent and interesting and both thoughtful and very thought-provoking.

Thanks to all who have made it so - a real pleasure to encounter such an interesting & thoughtful thread in a politics forum.
 

PearsonX

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I read that the agricultural practices antebellum were unsustainable and the land was simply being overtaxed. The South was in good shape at the beginning of the 19th century, but by the time of the civil war, they were in serious decline.

Now, though, one has to ask, are the Southern states really poor, is it a misperception (for what reason) or is Southern culture just ill-suited to creating properly balanced prosperity? I am pretty sure that there are well-off areas, like Atlanta, Miami, Alexandria, but they always seem to be obscured by barefoot hillbillies, in much the same way as we hear about plane crashes or riots because they are more newsworthy than millions of eventless flights or peaceful protests.

My feeling is that, if a state is chronically on net assistance, there is probably something being done wrong. Society/culture is being managed in a way the revenue is poorly distributed, so a lot of money is getting wasted.

My perception is that an unbalanced culture (arbitrary, stratified, oppressive) costs more than to strive toward being fair and just. For instance, there have been a few studies that show that it is cheaper to simply provide digs than to let homelessness fester. To my inexpert eye, the South, in general, looks like a culture based on imbalance, and they are paying the price.

Absolutely fascinating thread. It's refreshing to read and learn so much instead of the daily upset of the clusterf of daily politics.

I only have one thing to add here:
@Yoused, that's exactly the issue in the USA. We have a ridiculously reactionary culture. There is a culture emphasizing "personal responsibility" (these are the southern states mainly), that culminates into is either unchristian-like behavior (e.g. letting someone with a treatable acute condition die due to lack of funds), or fiscally irresponsible behavior (spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to treat the acute and then chronic complications of preventable conditions). Since the latter dominates, the system is very inefficient. The net "benefit" is a sort of punishment for poverty (laziness and/or genetic ineptitude per the conservative view...).

This is objectively measurable and can be seen in abortion and teen pregnancy rates in red vs. blue states, or in obesity rate differences between blue and red counties. Or even COVID response.
 
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