Going backwards in the South

Okay, not all of it, but certainly in North Carolina.  Truly amazing that we have so rapidly joined the realms of the pariah/embarrassment states of Alabama and Mississippi.  Seriously, what intelligent person could want that… and yet our state legislature.  Hmmm.  Nice Timothy Egan column on the matter:

Now, the bad. Following North Carolina’s lead, another state, Mississippi, passed a law allowing people and institutions to deny services to gay people. With this measure, Mississippi, already one of the poorest states in the nation, ensures that good job providers will stay away.

Indeed, PayPal dropped plans to bring 400 jobs to North Carolina after politicians gave people a green light to discriminate. And a host of corporate leaders signed a letter on Wednesday explaining why Mississippi and North Carolina would be shunned. “Such laws are bad for employees,” the representatives of companies ranging from Whole Foods to General Electric wrote, “and bad for business.”

Next door, in Alabama, the embattled Republican governor signed a bill earlier this year preventing cities from raising the minimum wage. This after Birmingham dared to dream of a day when its lowest-paid workers could make $10 an hour.

Nearly all the states with the highest percentage of minimum wage workers — full-time jobholders making $290 a week, before taxes — are in the South. These are also the same states that refuse to expand Medicaid to allow the working poor to get health care. And it’s in the same cradle of the old Confederacy where discriminatory bills are rising. Don’t blame the cities; from Birmingham to Charlotte, people are trying to open doors to higher wages and tolerance of gays, only to be rebuffed at the state level.

Essentially, this Republican-controlled block has decided that it’s better to be poor, sick and bigoted than prosperous, healthy and open-minded. And its defense is precisely that: The region is too economically distressed and socially backward to accept progress, so why change? Discrimination, as they see it, is just another term for religious freedom. [emphasis mine]

Oversimplified?  Sure.  Completely on point?  Sadly, yes.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

One Response to Going backwards in the South

  1. itchy says:

    “Don’t blame the cities; from Birmingham to Charlotte, people are trying to open doors to higher wages and tolerance of gays, only to be rebuffed at the state level.”

    The irony is that businesses are boycotting by rescinding plans to develop in the cities — the same cities that support LGBT rights.

    Of course, there are no plans to develop elsewhere — in those minimum minimum-wage areas. Go figure.

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