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Southerners Are Being Taken for a Ride

September 7th, 2011 · 1 Comment · Corporations and Industry, Economics, General, jobs, Labor, Politics, Populism

The Republicans, and the Tea Party founders, the Koch Family and about 30 other millionaire donors are taking the South for a ride.

People know about being “taken for a ride” in Chicago. You see, in Chicago, there were always some good boxers and a bunch of good football players. But, over time, there were better boxers in New York and better football players in Alabama or Texas. For a long time, however, one thing Chicago had more of were really bad guys.

These guys wouldn’t beat you up in a fistfight. They’d beat you with a baseball bat, until you hoped that one of the blows would kill you and get it over with. These were really bad guys and when they said they were going to “take you for a ride” that meant something really bad was going to happen to you.

Now, the Koch Brothers, the Neocon Republicans and Rupert Murdoch are taking Southerners for a ride. Yes, you, the working people of the South. You are not being told the truth. You are being told that you are doing very well because jobs are going south.

If jobs are going south, then why are the greatest number of low paying jobs in the country in the state that is attracting the greatest number of jobs, Texas, while people in places like Massachusetts and Connecticut are earning as much as 40% more?

Pretty simple. Corporations are sending jobs where they don’t have to pay taxes and where people will work for the least amount of money. The average CEO makes 350 times the amount that the average U.S. worker makes. Not in Texas.

In Texas, the CEO makes more than 350 times the average worker’s pay. That is because Texas workers do not make what the average U.S.worker makes. Texas is the 32nd state in terms of per capita income. So on average a job in any one of 31 other states would be better than finding a job in Texas.

Texas has the second highest percentage of people below the poverty line in the United States, and by far the greatest number of people in poverty. Second is next-door neighbor Mississippi and they are primarily a rural state. Texas has urban poverty. Texas has three of the top-ten populated urban areas in the Country—Houston, San Antonio and Dallas. But Texas is a big state. It has nearly 4 million people living below the poverty line and that is more than the next four poorest states combined.

Texas has a lot of rich people, too. So that should make the per capita income go up. Median income is below average at about $40,000. The national median is about $42,000. Texas has a lot more really rich people and therefore to be below average, it must have a lot more really poor people.

Looking for a good job in Texas is no walk in the park. The unemployment rate right now is 8.2 per cent, up from 8.0 percent, which means…for all the talk about companies moving to Texas, they aren’t moving there to create more jobs, but to cut back on both jobs and the money they pay to workers.

So the Texas “miracle” is not so solid as it first sounds. Not only that, but other states in the surrounding area are doing even worse. Alabama is probably the number one worst, with Louisiana and Mississippi, Kentucky and Tennessee not far behind. Poverty, lack of health care, low job pay, lack of high school diplomas, lack of access to higher education…all these things are good for…whom? They are good for companies who simply want to pay below minimum wage, find cheap labor, keep them dirt poor and walk away with profits.

Now why would that be? Well, if the U.S. median income is about $42,000 that means that the CEO of a company moving to Texas will make more profits for his stockholders. And that CEO will make 300 times more than that poor worker without health care. That translates into an income of $12,000,000 a year, every year.

Now let’s say that this company has 1,000 workers. If that CEO gave just half that income to his workers, and they were making the average, then their incomes would go up from $42,000 per year to $48,000 per year. And the CEO would still make $6,000,000 per year. That’s what the corporations don’t want you to think about.

They do not want you to think about the fact that the extra $6,000 you could be earning each year is almost exactly the amount you would need to retire comfortably, with Social Security. Even with Social Security and with out that saved and invested $6,000 a year, the average person will retire into poverty. But CEOs would rather invest a million dollars in campaign bribes with the Republican Party, the shills who will sell out the middle class than to give back $6,000,000 of their pay to their workers.

That CEO, the one who won’t share his bloated income with his workers or allow his taxes to go up to where they were under Bill Clinton, a time when everyone was doing well–that guy wants you to think that your Social Security won’t be there at all. He wants to keep you scared. Here’s what it really means when they say that Social Security will go “bankrupt” in 2025 if we do not do something about it. ( By the way, if the Neocons had not forced the government to renew the recent Bush tax cuts for billionaires and millionaires we could have extended Social Security completely through 2075.)

This CEO wants you to think that Social Security won’t be there for you, so he tells the Tea Party to scream “bankruptcy.” But the fact is that if we do absolutely nothing…nothing at all…about Social Security you would still get about 78% of what you would otherwise get. If you were eligible for $2,000 per month, you would get about $1,500. So Social Security won’t be bankrupt. But, of course, we should completely fund Social Security.

So they will distract you with things that really don’t matter. Does it matter to you—do you even know—that there have been and are gays in the military? Are you going to say that the military does not and has not known? They have and they do.

The CEOs want to think about homosexual marriage, which has almost zero effect on your life. Why? Because then you may not think about the average CEO of a health insurance company who makes $14,000,000 a year while 47 million people cannot afford health care. He’s worth it, you say. No. He’s not. He appoints the board of directors who then vote him any salary he wants and thinks he can get away with. Most of the profits in the health insurance industry, about 40%, before taxes…on which they pay almost nothing…go to CEOs and senior executives. It is a money-making machine and you are paying the bill.

Plus, of course, you pay the bills for people without health care. Because they go to emergency rooms and are billed $5.00 for an aspirin and about $20,000 for almost any procedure that requires admission to the hospital. You pay that on your health insurance. And if you wonder why health insurance costs so much…it is your own fault…you are paying $5.00 for an aspirin for someone you don’t even know.

So why should you do that? You shouldn’t. We should have universal health care that would bring down costs so that you could add more health care or less if you wanted to add it, but so that aspirin and other costs could then be controlled and not billed at $5 but at 5 cents. The only change is the one that health insurance companies don’t want. You would be dealing directly with your doctor and paying him through a monthly government fee and perhaps a small co-pay. Health insurance companies…gone. Unnecessary. Only money-making machines for themselves.

But you’ve been told by your wonderful Neocon Representatives, the shills for the health insurance industry about “death panels” and skyrocketing health care costs. This is exactly the opposite of what will happen…costs will almost seem to evaporate under universal health care because $5.00 aspirin will virtually disappear.

In 1981, Ronald Reagan completed a plan for the Republican Party to gain a foothold in the South. So all the old Democratic bigots, who were being pushed out of the Democratic Party which was now demanding Equal Rights and Equal Opportunity and equality of education….they all went over to the Republican Party.

The most notable were Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms. Todays most prominent are Senators DeMint, Vitter, Shelby and Sessions. So the “solid south” the former Confederate states, with their politicians living in the past, pre-Civil War, hoping for the return of slavery, with a Texas Governor who talks about secession…which we do not want to see happen.

We don’t want to lose Texas. It would be good for us to have to quickly come up with alternative energy. But we like the Houston Texans and Dallas Cowboys in the NFL. We like Texas University and Texas A&M and Baylor and NASA and South Padre Island and the Riverwalk. And there is a lot of great history, our nation’s history, locked up in the annals of Texas. And there are innumerable Texas heroes who died for this country in our foreign wars. But there are still too many bigots in Texas.

So what seems to be a growth of the economy in Southern states is really an exploitation of ignorance, racial bigotry, and false Southern identity. Does it mean that all Southerners are bigots. No it does not. But it does mean that the roughly 40% of the people who are not must become more involved to overcome the very visible racism of those who are.

So the movement of the lower paying jobs from the North to the South, to Texas for example, does not mean that jobs are being created. It only means that those governors, like Governor Perry of Texas, will appeal to corporations that are very short sighted and cynical…who want those multi-million dollar bonuses by paying pittance salaries…to simply transfer jobs from one state to another.

And what happens? Low wage workers, unskilled workers, move to Texas. In other words it is like the movie “Dumb and Dumber.” Soon, all the low-skilled, low wage jobs will be in the South and the high-paid, high-skilled jobs will be in the North. And because people like Governor Perry have made their states the low rungs on the totem pole, none of the educated people from places like the University of Texas will be able to find a job in Texas. So the smart, educated, and largely civilized people will move to Wisconsin, Illinois, New York, Michigan, California or Massachusetts where the future high-tech companies will be forced to locate.

It is already happening. Texas is below the national average in per capita personal income at $39,000, whereas states like Massachusetts at $52,000 and Connecticut, at $56,000, with higher education, better state services and each with a high-tech, future-ready economy, are blowing past the U.S. median to create better lives and futures for their citizens.

We use Texas because their governor is falsely touting the great Texas economy. This simply isn’t so. And Texas is not alone. When you look at state rankings in personal income, Southern states are going to look good to the investment community. But when it comes to personal income—how much the worker keeps in his or her paycheck—it is a different story.

In terms of personal income, Mississippi, the heart of the old South, is dead last—50th. Other Southern states rank right up there when it comes to paying their workers the least amounts of money in their pay envelopes….West Virginia is 49th and next-door Kentucky is 47th. Arkansas is 46th, South Carolina 45th, Alabama 42nd, and Georgia 38th. But Texas, at 32nd, well below the median is no great miracle. With Texas as the heart of the oil industry, the largest and most profitable of all the major remaining industries in this country in its backyard, Texas should be no lower than 10th–at worst. To be at 32nd is a disgrace.

Let’s go negative. What about poverty rates? Well, good old Mississippi ranks number one again…highest percentage of people in poverty. Next, tied for second, come three other Southern states, Arkansas, Kentucky and Louisiana. Then come West Virginia at 6th, Texas at 8th, South Carolina and Alabama tied for 9th. But Massachusetts and Connecticut just can’t keep up with Southern states when it comes to the percentage of those in poverty, ranking 41st and 46th respectively.

Southerners need to learn that living in the past relegates any society to second-class status. Everyone deserves a job. Southerners deserve more than just a job…any job. What Southerners should have is better education, better standards of living and more opportunities than merely an entry level opportunity….minimum wages with no health care and no retirement and no educational opportunities for their children.

They will only get that when they stop believing the propaganda of the Corporate Aristocracy. They must stop believing the lies spread by Neocon politicians and designed to use the South as a political tool.

Otherwise, the Koch Family, Rupert Murdoch and their other millionaire friends will continue to gain even more wealth and power at the expense of the average working man…North or South.

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One Comment so far ↓

  • Proud Populist

    You have touched on something that a lot of Republican voters don’t understand…I call it the “shiny coin.” Think of the coin that a hypnotist employs working his trade. When the discussion gets close to real issues like jobs and wealth inequality you can count on a corporate whore from the extreme right to start crying about homosexual marriage,gays in the military, or the time-tested standby, abortion. In all the hoopla the issues near and dear to folks like the Kochs will be forgotten. It works and education is part of it. The poorly educated have attention deficit problems like G.W. has. They are easily led away from the issues that are important to those emotional issues that the GOP will never address because they serve a purpose if they don’t address them.
    That’s why the extreme right is attacking teachers unions, dumbing down the masses is voter stability for the GOP. Keep em’ stupid enough to ignore their pay and the way that the rich are raping both the workers and the economy and keep em’ focused on “taxes.” Just never tell the morons that the taxes they are protesting aren’t their own, but the wealthy owners of the GOP.
    Great point about the bigots from the South migrating from the Democrat Party to the GOP during Reagan’s terms.
    All of those jobs moving down South remind me of the jobs that went to Mexico and eventually to China. I wonder how long it takes before those Southern jobs move to cheaper labor too? Maybe China? “Right To Work” actually translates to “Right To Work For Cheap.”
    Workers in America should focus on something constructive and benficial for themselves instead of the Kochs of the world! How about a “Living Wage”?