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The South Will Rise Again!

17 November 2008

flag-south_will_rise_again1This is the battle cry that still rang out in the South of my childhood and early adulthood.  As we toiled under the weight of a regional poverty level not felt by our cousins in the North, we were continually reminded that the glory of the Old Confederacy would resurface and carry us all to greatness. That is, if we stayed true to the moral beliefs of our forebears and stood by their morality – poor but proud – at the expense of our own pocketbooks.  City and state governments were run by a narrow self-serving all-white Democratic Party that divided the poor whites from the poor blacks to maintain their political control.  After LBJ’s Great Society, the Democrats all became Republicans after a brief flirtation with the idea of their own party.  And thanks to the Southern Strategy of Richard Nixon coupled with the follow-through of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, The South did, indeed, rise again in national political prominence.

lincoln-aNow, we come to the tricky, déjà vu part of the story.  A close look at the picture reveals some striking similarities between today’s US and that of the US of 1860.  In 1860, after years of southern domination of US national politics, a young leader came out of Illinois and captured the Presidency with enough political weight in the Congress to push his anti-slavery, pro-industrial-revolution agenda.  The Southern States, realizing they had lost the ability to stop the federal government from changing the direction of the country, decided to secede from the union.  The civil war broke out, and The South has carried the scars of that great clash for 150 years.  Yes, in 2010, it will be 150 years since the election of Abraham Lincoln and the beginning of the Civil War.

slavesMany in this country believe that the only reason for the Civil War was the burning issue of abolition of slavery.  This has become the moral high ground in the rehashing of the story.  The modern equivalent would be, “Saddam Hussein was an evil man, so it was the right thing to do to invade his country and take him down.”  But just as the Iraq war is complicated by the oil issues that envelop it, the real issue that led to the US Civil War was the issue of tariffs.  The northern manufacturers needed them to protect themselves in their infancy from an overpowering competitor, the British Empire.

industrial-revolution-britain The industrialized British Empire was doing everything it could to kill the industrializing America before it could become a major player on the world stage.  They were literally flooding the American market with cheap manufactured goods, seeing that, in the long run, short-term losses would lead to long-term gains.  The struggling US manufacturers who were encumbered with the early expenses of starting themselves up and a shortage of workers which led to higher costs, needed some help from the Federal Government.  The only thing that could save the infant industrial companies was tariffs to raise the price of incoming British goods into the American marketplace.

picking-cotton

Picking Cotton

Tobacco

Tobacco

indigo

Indigo

The South, on the other hand, was an agrarian society/economy that chiefly grew cotton, tobacco and indigo for the world market.  Their greatest customer base was the manufacturers of England.  They were getting a double economic bang for their dollars by selling their crops to the English at a higher price than they could get from their cousins in The North, and getting manufactured goods and commodities from England and its considerable colonies at the lowest possible price.  It was not in their best interest to impose tariffs on English goods.  In fact, the English government and the trading partners from England were putting enormous pressure on The South to use their power in the US Congress to kill any such measures.  Lay over the top of that the issue of slavery, and it was a recipe for disaster to a fledgling democracy and its people.  The inability of the two sides to forge any kind of compromise led to the inevitable war that ensued.

Honda assembly line, Marysville, OH

Honda assembly plant, Marysville, OH

Fast forward 148 years, and in many ways here we are again.  The economic issue this time is the imminent collapse of the US auto industry.  Oddly enough, in one way or another the players are exactly the same or eerily similar.  We have The South, except this time it is the Republican South, and The Midwest, except this time it is the Democratic Midwest, sparring over a major economic issue.  We have a newly elected President from Illinois.  And here’s where it gets even more interesting.  We have an island nation whose best interest is being represented by The South.  Who, you ask is that island nation?  This time it’s Japan.

tariffs-cartoonOne of the economic driving forces of The New South is the Japanese automobile industry.  Exploiting wide-spread poverty and the workers in that situation who were more than willing to work for less, Honda, Mazda and Toyota have brought auto assembly plants to The South, thus seeming to manufacture their cars in the United States.  And let us be honest about what the Japanese are really doing here.  They are not manufacturing cars here, they are merely assembling them here.  The parts are manufactured in Japan by Japanese workers with health care and similar benefits paid for by the Japanese government and by companies employing technology gained through research and development conducted by and paid for by the Japanese government.  Then those parts are shipped to the United States where American workers put them together, and voila, an American car shoots off the assembly line.  BULLSHIT!  The Japanese automakers are getting the best of both worlds while our own Big Three are left by their own government to compete on a hugely uneven playing field.

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Alabama)

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Alabama)

The cynical Republican politicians of The South know this, yet they send forth their spokesperson, Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama, to stand firmly against any help for our own industries and workers.  Today on Morning Joe, Joe Scarborough stood up to his party, accusing them of abandoning Michigan because they could no longer compete politically in the state.  Pat Buchanan also stood tall for the US automobile industry, warning his fellow Republicans that they were dooming themselves into a position of being a minority party for the remainder of the 21st century if they didn’t start thinking about what is best for America instead of what is best for their party.

Joe Scarborough

Joe Scarborough

Pat Buchanan

Pat Buchanan

Imagine my surprise when I found myself agreeing with Scarborough and Buchanan on the same morning, but wholeheartedly I do.  Pat Buchanan talked about the idea of “patriotic economics,” an attitude of inserting the welfare of one’s own country first into such discussions and decisions.  We saw a great lack of that kind of thinking as the Republican governors gathered in Miami last week.  All they wanted to talk about was how to help the Republican Party.  Well, they better listen to Scarborough and Buchanan if they want to help their party.  In the United States of America, you help your party by helping your country first.  If not, the recent rise of the Republican Party will end up looking like the demise of the Democratic Party after the Civil War.  It was a very long time before they recaptured the White House and any real power in Washington, D.C.

President-Elect Obama

President-Elect Obama

One of the oldest adages in the book is: live and learn.  The saying could well be reversed, because if you don’t learn, you will not live, at least in politics.  It is time for the Republicans to stop being a bunch of ideologues and start following the will of the American People as expressed in the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States.  The Right is having a hard time coming to grips with the fact that they lost that election on the issues because they are wrong on the issues.  LIVE AND LEARN!

And as for us Democrats, KEEP FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT!

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16 Comments leave one →
  1. 17 November 2008 4:31 pm

    Jack,

    Once again you have managed to put it all in a nutshell. The way you write it makes it all so easy to understand. I guess being a Yankee, I have never really understood the complex political structure that is the South.

    If you don’t mind I am going to post a link on my blog to this article. It should be spread around as far as it can be spread, so that everyone will understand it as you do.

    Let’s keep fighting the good fight…

  2. 17 November 2008 6:05 pm

    Well put!

    I must say that I noticed that there truly is a difference in the South when I spent a few months in Florida back in ’99… and I learned that the South is no place for me. However, there are some ideologies that come from the South that I wish were a bit more mainstreamed.

    This is my first time at this page, but I believe I shall become a repeat visitor!

  3. 18 November 2008 4:07 pm

    Jack,

    I wanted to direct you to some great articles that I thought you would be interested in reading. I couldn’t find an email address, so I thought I would post it here. Feel free to delete this after you read it.

    I have been rummaging through “The American Prospect” web site and I have come across some amazing articles that I think you should read.

    The most recent one is “The Audacity of Patience”. Here is the link: http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=the_audacity_of_patience

    Then I found this other article named “Goodbye and Good Riddence”: http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=goodbye_and_good_riddance

    Which in turn led me to another great piece written back in April of 2003, called, “The Most Dangerous President Ever” :
    http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=the_most_dangerous_president_ever

    I would love to see you write an opinion on these articles. For me they are some of the best political writing that I have seen in a long time, but then again, I do tend to lean a bit left.

    Enjoy,

    Willpen

  4. Left-Eyed Jack permalink*
    18 November 2008 7:40 pm

    To: D,

    Thanks for stopping by. Come on back, ya’hear?

  5. Left-Eyed Jack permalink*
    18 November 2008 7:43 pm

    To: WillPen,

    Thanks for the referral. I am told by Mrs. Jack that I have gotten a lot of hits from your referral.

    It is true that the South and the people here are very complex. We wear our history very seriously. In fact, too seriously!

  6. 18 November 2008 8:01 pm

    To Mrs. Jack and Jack,

    Good writing deserves to be seen…my pleasure.

  7. starshine permalink
    18 November 2008 10:39 pm

    Jack, I think some people may have a difficult time staying loyal to American auto makers because their automobiles aren’t completely made in the U.S. This article is from 2005, but as far as I know, not much has changed.
    http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/05_24/b3937071_mz058.htm

    My brother-in-law, who is 50 years-old, lives in an old steel town and is pro – anything – American, bought his first import car this year.

  8. Left-Eyed Jack permalink*
    19 November 2008 10:19 am

    Good Morning, Starshine,

    Sorry, it’s my age. I couldn’t help myself.

    Thanks for the artcle on Mexican plants for U.S. automakers. This is just another piece of the ever-maddening story of our economic mess. NAFTA was shoved down our throats by politicians on both sides of the aisle and has cost us dearly. On the up side, those auto plants in Mexico have given some, albeit small, help in stemming the overwhelming flow of illegal aliens from across our southern border, but the loss of an American job is the loss of an American job. The unrestrained tenets of capitalism are breaking the middle class of our country.

    That all being said, I am not ready to throw the baby out with the bath water, so to speak. We still have over 3 million jobs to protect in our nation, not to mention all the ancillary jobs and small businesses that would be adversely affected by the collapse of such a driving force in our economy. Please see my post for today, Hang On Sloopy, when I get it posted later. There is a lot at stake here and some workable solution must be found.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  9. starshine permalink
    19 November 2008 12:51 pm

    …The earth says hello! You twinkle above us….

    I haven’t thought of that song in years! I chose the name because I love the quiet and stillness of the evening and early morning hours.

    I agree the automakers need to be saved for the sole purpose of workers being able to keep their jobs. I find it interesting that Bush&Co. were willing to bail out WS, but not the automakers.
    Ford has a cool little hybid SUV and if I had the means to buy one, I would.

    I also agree with your thoughts on NAFTA, and now we have CAFTA as well. Sheesh.

    On a happier note, did you see Cheney has been indicted? Not that it will stick….

  10. Left-Eyed Jack permalink*
    19 November 2008 6:33 pm

    To: Starshine,

    Thanks for reminding us of CAFTA, that only leaves SHAFTA out!

    I did see — or I should say Mrs. jack saw the Cheney/Gonzalez story last night on our local FOX affiliate. I researched it, and unfortunately it is being pushed by a lame-duck district attorney who didn’t even win the Democratic Primary in a heavily Democratic county in South Texas a/k/a The Valley. I wish it had a little more chance of succeeding, but it will probably hit the trash can on January 1 when the new Democratic DA takes over. SORRY!

    Thanks for stopping by.

  11. 21 November 2008 1:41 pm

    A group of us ordinary folk were discussing the proposed Big 3 bail out yesterday. General consensus was, “No more blank checks.” Tom Friedman suggests dumping the top exec layer and the boards of directors, hiring Steve Jobs at GM and predicts release of an iCar within a year. Now that’s innovation! Others have suggested a top salary of $400K (what the POTUS makes); I’d be willing to throw in a bit more to make up for the public housing project occupied by the POTUS, but at a minimum compensation should be tied to long-term viability of the corporation rather than the next quarterly report. Long-term, sustainable growth should be the goal that’s rewarded. Then these bailouts might not even be necessary. And it should be a LOAN, a loan-guarantee if the credit markets were functional, not just a gimme. Sell the corporate jets (on eBay if necessary).

    The Big 3 have spent billions trying to avoid or at least delay innovation — seat belts, rear view mirrors, catalytic converters, higher fuel efficiency, and more. Meanwhile the top dogs skim off obscene amounts of money and perks.

    My Chrysler PT Cruiser was built in Mexico; other people’s Hondas were built in the US. So, what makes a vehicle a US car at this point anyway?

    Jack, how much of the success of the infiltration of foreign car manufacturers into the South has been to avoid the UAW’s influence in the rust belt? And how much of the Japanese model of loyalty to workers has come with it? It’s easy to criticize the Japanese for being anti-union, but it seems that there’s more of a culture of cooperation and respect between workers and management there than here. Does that culture make unions less necessary because worker needs are considered — that they’re seen as an asset more than as a cost?

  12. Left-Eyed Jack permalink*
    21 November 2008 3:46 pm

    To: More Light Than Heat,

    I believe that you are right on the money as far as what needs to be done at GM and probably the other two as well. It’s time for some real grownups to kick the heirs apparent out of the board rooms and the executive offices of these corporations and force them to come into the 21st century.

    As far as what makes a US-made car, I believe it is one that is built from the barest materials right here in the US. Sorry, I don’t consider a car made in Mexico a US made car even though it has an American name on it. That being said, the Mexican manufacturing sector does have some positive benefits for us here in the US. We would have even more illegal aliens pouring across our borders every day without it. It’s sort of a neighborly thing to do.

    My quarrel with the “Americanization” of the Japanese auto industry by putting assembly plants in the US is the fact that those plants only assemble parts manufactured in Japan. That makes a great deal of the labor force utilized in the manufacturing of those cars foreign. It’s kind of a dodge for the Japanese to claim that their cars are “made in America” when they are only assembled here. If they wanted to remedy this situation by placing parts manufacturing facilities here — even in non-union southern states — I would be more willing to concede the point.

    As far as the treatment of the Japanese laborer, you are absolutely correct. The same cannot be said for the American laborer. Too often American corporations. businesses and even government entities treat their employees as necessary evils to the process and seek every avenue to get rid of them. Recent off-shoring of American jobs illustrates this point perfectly. If employers would treat their employees fairly then there would be no need for unions. However, I have not found this to be the case, particularly as I live in a “fire-at-will” state. Workers in Texas and most southern states have absolutely no protection from unfair labor practices by law or in the court system since tort reform swept through here pushed by big insurance, big business and carried by Republicans. Sorry, I know what I know on this one from first-hand experience.

    Despite the “infiltration” of the foreign car companies into the South, poverty remains a plague on our society down here. Before his foolish demise, John Edwards was devoting his life to this problem. It still exists, and there seems to be little help on the way at the state level.

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  14. 26 March 2013 3:54 am

    Thanks for your article, it was hilarious. “the Southern Strategy of Richard Nixon”

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  1. What Is It With Me And “Just” | Dave's Internet Marketing Ramblings
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