As Republicans despair of ever again being the majority party, Joel Kotkin sees glimmers of geopolitical hope.
The fastest-growing, most prosperous, most business-friendly and family-friendly regions of the nation are in the South and the Midwest, thus, in Republican strongholds.
Like states, regions can be laboratories for public policy and the South, in particular, has been leading the way toward a more prosperous future.
In what appears to be an ongoing competition for jobs, the South seems to be winning out over the liberal, blue North.
Kotkin sums it up:
One hundred and fifty years after twin defeats at Gettysburg and Vicksburg destroyed the South’s quest for independence, the region is again on the rise. People and jobs are flowing there, and Northerners are perplexed by the resurgence of America’s home of the ignorant, the obese, the prejudiced and exploited, the religious and theundereducated. Responding to new census data showing the Lone Star State is now home to eight of America’s 15 fastest-growing cities, Gawker asked: “What is it that makes Texas so attractive? Is it the prisons? The racism? The deadly weather? The deadly animals? The deadly crime? The deadly political leadership? The costumed sex fetish conventions? The cannibal necromancers?”
The South, along with the Plains, is focused on growing its economy, getting rich, and catching up with the North’s cultural and financial hegemons. The Yankee nation, by contrast, is largely concerned with preserving its privileged economic and cultural position—with its elites pulling up the ladder behind themselves.
Kotkin believes that the North is resting on its laurels, but that is only part of the story. As Gawker demonstrates, the North is fighting back, with its own cultural psy-ops.
As Texas Governor Rick Perry keeps trying to lure blue state businesses to Texas, Northern intellectuals are letting fly with slander, derision, ridicule and defamation.
They are not working to create economic opportunity in their own states, but prefer stigmatizing the more dynamic South. If you can't beat them and can't join them, convince them to self-deconstruct.
One likes to assume that we are naturally inclined to emulate our betters. And Kotkin does note the cases where Northern governors have been working to emulate the pro-growth policies that are afoot in the South. But, there is always possible that the South will choose to emulate policies that have failed in the North.
It’s unlikely, though, that the South will emulate the North’s social model of an ever-expanding welfare state and ever more stringent “green” restrictions on business—which hardly constitutes a strong recipe for success for a developing economy. It’s difficult to argue, for example, that President Obama’s Chicago, broke and with 10 percent unemployment, represents the beacon of the economic future compared to faster-growing Houston, Dallas, Raleigh, or even Atlanta. People or businesses moving from Los Angeles, New York, or Chicago to these cities will no doubt carry their views on social issues with them, but it’s doubtful they will look north for economic role models.
Blue staters who believe that they have righteousness on their side are happily trying to persuade Southerners to adopt their very own self-defeating policies. Don’t count out the effectiveness of their psy-ops.
The South has become the most business-friendly region because it has low taxes, fewer regulations and less unionization. It doesn’t take a very high IQ to figure it out:
While the Northeast and Midwest have become increasingly expensive places for businesses to locate, and cool to most new businesses outside of high-tech, entertainment, and high-end financial services, the South tends to want it all—and is willing to sacrifice tax revenue and regulations to get it. A review of state business climates by CEO Magazine found that eight of the top 10 most business-friendly states, led by Texas, were from the former Confederacy; Unionist strongholds California, New York, Illinois, and Massachusetts sat at the bottom.
One needs to point out that New York and other blue states have become a bastion for what I would call “clean” jobs. Those involve finance, the media, the law, education, entertainment and high tech. The South has energy, industry, manufacturing and agriculture… thus, dirty jobs.
But now, the South is beginning to poach serious technology jobs. Kotkin draws the comparison:
More recently, the region—led by Texas—has moved up the value-added chain, seizing a fast-growing share of the jobs in higher-wage fields such as auto and aircraft manufacturing, aerospace, technology, and energy.
And, the South is rising in terms of financial services jobs. North Carolina comes immediately to mind and, Kotkin reports, the new owners of the New York Stock Exchange are located in Atlanta.
In the past, the South was synonymous with poverty. Today, New York has more poverty than Mississippi:
While the recession was tough on many Southern states, the area’s recovery generally has been stronger than that of Yankeedom: the unemployment rate in the region is now lower than in the West or the Northeast. The Confederacy no longer dominates the list of states with the highest share of people living in poverty; new census measurements (PDF), adjusted for regional cost of living, place the District of Columbia and California first and second. New York now has a higher real poverty rate than Mississippi.
At the moment, the South does have fewer citizens with Bachelor’s degrees, but it has been attracting more and more educated young people.
In Kotkin’s analysis:
To be sure, some Yankee bastions, such as Massachusetts and Connecticut, enjoy much higher percentages of educated people than the South. Every state in the Southeast falls below the national average of percentage of residents 25 and over with at least a bachelor’s degree—but virtually every major Southern metropolitan region has been gaining educated workers faster than their Northeastern counterparts. Over the past decade, greater Atlanta added over 300,000 residents with B.A.s, more than the larger Philadelphia region and almost 70,000 more than Boston.
Southern states are attracting more immigrants and producing more family members. Quality of life, cost of living and quality of public education explains why it is more affordable to raise children outside of a place like New York City.