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The South is Seceding -- Again

The official Civil War ended over a hundred and fifty years ago but the unofficial civil war never did. The Jim Crow laws, anti-miscegenation laws, state-mandated segregation and the so-called “separate but equal” school sytems, all imposed after the war, were eventually overturned by the courts or repealed.

But the tug of secession never died. The original eleven states of the Confederacy have been joined by other southern states (Oklahoma, Kansas, Kentucky) in a new secession movement designed to separate themselves socio-culturally from the rest of the country. And it’s working.

By passing blatantly discriminatory laws on the flimsiest of grounds, reducing tax revenues on the most debunked, regressive economic models, promoting religious rights over human rights, cutting the heart out of education by underfunding and promoting curriculums based on anti-science models, removing regulatory oversight by downsizing government, imposing draconian voter ID laws designed to disenfranchise minorities, students, the poor and the elderly, the southern states are slowly forming a separate sub-nation marked by poverty, a poorly educated citizenry, high rates of obesity, shorter life-spans and diminished quality of life.

Of the six states with the highest poverty rates, five are from the original Confederacy.

Of the six states with the poorest overall educational achievement, four are.

Five of the six states with the highest obesity rates are in the south.

Ditto for the states with the shortest life expectancies.

Eight of the ten states with the worst infant mortality rates are in the south.

Five of the six states with the highest teen pregnancy rates are southern.

Of the eight states with the highest incarceration rates, seven are in the south (the other is Arizona).

Of the 1433 executions carried out in the past forty years 81% have been in southern states (mainly in Texas and Oklahoma).

Only two southern states (Arkansas and Virginia) have unemployment rates better than the national average.

Four of the six states with the lowest median incomes are in the south.

The south is tops in religiosity with nine of the ten most religious states. The other, not surprisingly, is Utah.

The southern states are all controlled by Republicans and they are passing laws at a stunning rate to ensure that this decline in the quality of life for their residents will continue. A quick rundown — there’s little doubt that others will enact similar laws in the coming months:

Anti-LGBT laws: North Carolina, Mississippi and Tennessee. Georgia’s was vetoed by the governor but the legislature could still override it.

Right to discriminate laws (or what the legislatures euphemistically call “religious freedom” laws): Mississippi and North Carolina.

Refusal to enroll in expanded Medicaid programs under Obamacare: Every southern state except Louisiana.

Voter ID laws: every southern state has imposed strict voter ID laws designed to make it harder for groups that normally tilt toward Democrats from voting.

Ironically, every one of the southern states takes more from the despised Federal government than it contributes. The Republicans like to talk about “givers” and “takers” where “taker” is another dog whistle for poor black folks but, in fact, not one of the original eleven could survive without being takers. South Carolina leads the pack. For every dollar in Federal income tax paid the state receives $7.75 back from Washington. Florida gets approximately $4.50, Louisiana and Alabama about $4.25 and Mississippi roughly $4.10. Only Georgia and Arkansas are close to the break-even point with about $1.10 coming back for each $1.00 in tax revenue generated.

The economic situation in southern states is only going to get worse. The states that passed the anti-LGBT and pro-discrimination laws are suffering already. Several major corporations including PayPal and Deutsche Bank have withdrawn projects that would have brought hundreds if not thousands of jobs to North Carolina and popular performers like Bruce Springsteen and Bryan Adams have cancelled concerts.

The really serious problems are still in the future. As a careful analysis in The Guardian revealed, the ripple effects will accumulate as universities begin having difficulty recruiting faculty and students, public education is underfunded, tax revenues continue to drop, tourism declines and the infrastructure crumbles.

Businesses understand that discrimination and prejudice are not good ways to do things. Over 150 have signed letters asking these states to repeal the anti-LGBT laws.

Other states already see opportunities to grow from the south’s misguided moves. Connecticut recently made a pitch to the Bank of America to relocate its offices from North Carolina.

If the south wishes to continue its centuries-long effort to dissociate itself from the rest of the US, they are going to have to be willing to live in what will be the only third-world country in North America.


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