View Poll Results: What is the biggest reason for Mississippi's economic failure?

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  • Lack of public investment

    0 0%
  • Lack of private investment

    1 7.14%
  • Brain drain

    3 21.43%
  • Tax policy

    0 0%
  • Something else

    10 71.43%
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Thread: What is the problem with Mississippi?

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    What is the problem with Mississippi?

    The state has been a perennial economic backwater since the Civil War, when King Cotton, timber, and the slave economy propelled Natchez to the status of having more millionaires per capita than any other city in the United States. It's been pretty much downhill since. I think we're still on our 1988 highway plan. It is estimated that Tunica County took in more than $750,000,000 in taxes, mostly from the gaming industry, since dockside gambling was legalized in 1992. Where did the money go? Things like four-lane highways to make the driving easier for the flocks of tourists and gamblers. And now that the gaming boom has fizzled in Tunica thanks to increased competition, all of that deteriorating infrastructure seems like a cruel joke. And where are the tax revenues to maintain it going to come from now? It sure won't come from poor blacks in one of the poorest counties (still) in the country who can't even maintain their own homes. I also doubt it's going to fall upon the large county landholders who were the principal beneficiaries of the tax cuts that were put in place thanks to casinos. Meanwhile, the state is still trying to get its economic output back to 2008, and its one of only two states (the other being its neighbor to the west, Louisiana) in the South to lose population for three consecutive years.

    So what should the state do to right the ship? Is there anything it can do? Robert Reich would say it needs more public investment. Presumably, that would include education. But right now young, educated Mississippians can't wait to get out. I see it on a micro level with childhood friends of my sons. One went to California, where he writes code, another went to Colorado, where he writes code, another went to Washington, where he writes code, and so forth. So the high wage earners (and their taxes) are fleeing. Republicans say Mississippi needs to cut taxes and provide incentives for investment. It does that, often with minimal benefit. For example, Chevron, which operates its largest petroleum refinery in the United States in Pascagoula, got a 10-year tax moratorium on a $2 billion investment in a new base oil production facility. The total number of permanent jobs for that: 30. And how many of those are actually in Mississippi instead of neighboring Alabama, which is a stone's throw from the plant, is anyone's guess. Meanwhile, everyone else in the vicinity of the refinery gets the benefit of the increased pollution. And years ago Oreck was given a 10-year tax abatement in order to open a plant in Long Beach, Mississippi, but closed it at the end of the 10-year period, which coincidentally was announced a little more than one year after Hurricane Katrina. Talk about kicking people in the nuts when they're down.

    On a personal level, I moved myself and my family here more than two decades ago after my father's suicide. I was tired of the management rat race in California, where I was raised and spent most of my life up to that point. We just needed a new start in a new setting. We live along the Gulf Coast near Biloxi, about ninety minutes from New Orleans, and became casino dealers. What drew us here was the unique culture and history that goes back to when the French first landed on the Back Bay in 1699, erected a fort, and made Old Biloxi France's first capital of the Louisiana Territory. (Native Americans were here first, of course, but there is little actual evidence that they ever existed.) What can I say. I like the area's unique history, good food, music, art scene (yes, art scene), slower pace, and pretty sunsets over the Mississippi Sound. Regardless of the larger economic and social problems facing the state as whole, this is home now and probably will be as long as I'm living.
    Last edited by Ahlevah; 12-29-17 at 05:59 PM.
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    Re: What is the problem with Mississippi?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ahlevah View Post
    Regardless of the larger economic and social problems facing the state as whole, this is home now and probably will be as long as I'm living.
    *cracks knuckles*

    Boy oh boy oh boy, did you just gave me a New Year's gift! Why? I grew up in Mississippi...and not just in MS, but in the Delta, the very deepest of the Deep South...and not just in the Delta, but out in the boonies of Sunflower county surrounded by cotton and soybean fields (which have since been replaced with corn fields), and lived just a few miles down the road from US Sen. James O. Eastland, who was for a generation the most powerful racist in America...and a little closer than that is a small Southern Baptist church where my direct line is buried all the way back to 1870. And I'm white and grew up racist (even attended a segregation academy for a year)...till I joined the Navy, saw the world, and was forced by my experiences to unlearn my racism.

    In other words, yeah, I'm qualified to answer this!

    So what's the answer? It comes in two parts: Mississippi is (1) very rural, and is (2) ground zero for racism in America. First off, you're in the NICE part of the state, being down there on the coast. But as you've seen, a lot of the state is still backwards. It boils down to this: those who live in rural areas are a lot less cosmopolitan because they get a lot less contact with those of other races and ethnicities. If someone spoke with a different accent or looked or dressed a little different, they were met with suspicion. Such is normal not just for the Delta, but for anyplace that is poor and rural.

    But add to that the continuing tradition of racism. Did you know that MS did not ratify the 13th Amendment (banning slavery) until 2013? Yep - four years ago! And all through school there, we were taught that the Civil War was never about slavery, but for {insert cause here}. It was only after the internet made it available that I was able to read Mississippi's Articles of Secession to see that yeah, it was all about slavery. See those legislators in Jackson? Many of them are the children of those who fought against desegregation back in the 1960's...and the apples did not fall far from the tree. But then you have to ask yourself how the heck did racism cause MS to remain so backward? Read this article about Reagan's political adviser Lee Atwater, wherein you can find his quote:

    You start out in 1954 by saying, “Ni**er, ni**er, ni**er.” By 1968 you can’t say “ni**er”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Ni**er, ni**er.”

    Remember, that was Reagan's political adviser. Look up Nixon's Southern Strategy sometime, and between those two you can start to get an idea of why the GOP is the way it is today. Anyway, back to the lack of economic progress - note the sentence with the bolded phrase above. The racists would not vote for what would help themselves if they knew that it would also hurt the blacks. You pointed out what Robert Reich said about public investment, and I strongly agree with him...but MS will have none of that because the racists - yes, the racists - are appalled at the very notion of blacks benefiting from any kind of public program no matter how much it helps the whites.

    One last thing: most racists don't even realize they're racist. I'm not kidding! Look at the whites you see who you know are racist - if you ask them, almost all of them will be greatly offended at even being asked...and they'll be sincere! They really, truly do not recognize their own racism for what it is. Bear in mind what Jesus said, "Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do"...because they really don't know. I didn't until I saw the world. My family there never did until their dying days.

    So...I do miss the Delta - the land, the weather, the flora and fauna (but NOT the mosquitoes), and oh man do I miss the food...but I will never live there again - I cannot stand the racism...because for those of us who know it, who lived it, it's so thick you can cut it out of the air with a knife.
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    Re: What is the problem with Mississippi?

    Cotton and timber would be locally labor intensive infrastructure. Do they still do cotton and is there any timber left? Textile factories all went to China and East Asia. Are there timber processing industries? Are there many recreational lake areas or is it all swamp? Timber builds houses and how is the housing industry? Too hot and too humid for me, but I grew up in the North, and lived in Texas, Cali, NC, Wash, Penna, Tenn, and more. I've driven through Mississippi, and once delivered some hospital beds to Jackson, Miss, but didn't see anything or hear about anything that would draw me back. I think the state is a rural backwater and I don't mean the statement to be offensive, but an acknowledgement of reality. I live in a New York county that has no jobs and all the children must move out or nearly starve and that is the same as Mississippi. Same story land, timber, some oil, rocks, clean streams, beautiful landscapes, a couple small Industries and it is Mississippi on a small scale. No one has found a solution for this County either. Lost 7% of its' 50,000 citizens in the last 10 years. Now, 46,500. If you can't find something that brings money into these communities, they will not change.

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    Re: What is the problem with Mississippi?

    Quote Originally Posted by DaveFagan View Post
    Cotton and timber would be locally labor intensive infrastructure. Do they still do cotton and is there any timber left? Textile factories all went to China and East Asia. Are there timber processing industries? Are there many recreational lake areas or is it all swamp? Timber builds houses and how is the housing industry? Too hot and too humid for me, but I grew up in the North, and lived in Texas, Cali, NC, Wash, Penna, Tenn, and more. I've driven through Mississippi, and once delivered some hospital beds to Jackson, Miss, but didn't see anything or hear about anything that would draw me back. I think the state is a rural backwater and I don't mean the statement to be offensive, but an acknowledgement of reality. I live in a New York county that has no jobs and all the children must move out or nearly starve and that is the same as Mississippi. Same story land, timber, some oil, rocks, clean streams, beautiful landscapes, a couple small Industries and it is Mississippi on a small scale. No one has found a solution for this County either. Lost 7% of its' 50,000 citizens in the last 10 years. Now, 46,500. If you can't find something that brings money into these communities, they will not change.
    They still grow cotton, as well as other crops such as corn for livestock feed and soybeans, mostly in the Delta region where Glen is from. They also raise catfish, hogs, cattle, and chickens. Timber is still a major industry, especially in the so-called "Pine Belt" in the central part of the state, although the paper part of the industry is a shadow of what it once was. We do have some heavy industry here. I already mentioned the oil refinery, Chevron's largest in the United States. We also have two major auto plants, one operated by Toyota, the other Nissan, as well as a tire plant owned by Japan's Yokohama. We also have shipbuilding facilities, with the largest being Huntington-Ingalls' yard in Pascagoula. EADS through its Airbus Helicopters unit builds helicopters at a plant in Columbus. Northrop Grumman builds drones, including Global Hawk surveillance aircraft, as well as performing sub-assembly work for the F-35 program, at a plant in Moss Point. Rolls-Royce operates two jet engine test stands. The U.S. government is a major employer. For example, NASA operates Stennis Space Center, where rocket engines are tested. This facility is also used by major defense contractors such as Boeing. Also at Stennis, the U.S. Navy operates its oceanographic office. Let's see--what else? Hospitality and gaming, fishing and seafood, even swamp tours and alligator encounters. I guess once I thought about it there's more than I considered originally.
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    Re: What is the problem with Mississippi?

    Quote Originally Posted by Glen Contrarian View Post
    So...I do miss the Delta - the land, the weather, the flora and fauna (but NOT the mosquitoes), and oh man do I miss the food...but I will never live there again - I cannot stand the racism...because for those of us who know it, who lived it, it's so thick you can cut it out of the air with a knife.
    You know, I'm well aware of Mississippi's racist past. I am also aware that there are bubbas here, but then there are bubbas everywhere. Honestly, I don't think people have a clue about the racist history in my home state, California. There was a lot of racism there against Mexicans, Chinese, Koreans, Japanese, Filipinos, blacks--you name it. One could say WASPy Californians were equal opportunity bigots. My wife and I once bought a house there where we received a copy of the subdivision's original Conditions, Covenants, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) as part of a title search. The only people who could legally buy that house were WASPs. You could have had the money of a Rothschild, but if you were a Jew you would have been just another "kike" told to take a hike. And yet the place prospered. At least in the last century a black could buy property in Mississippi. It might have been a shotgun house on the south side of the tracks, but at least he could own it! But if you were Japanese or Chinese in California, you were screwed because 1) you couldn't get citizenship, and 2) California said if you weren't a citizen you couldn't own real estate. And since few people wanted to hire "Japs" or "chinks" as anything other than farmhands or day laborers, they started laundries or restaurants or farms using leased land or buildings. My Lutheran grandmother always said "Where there's a will, there's a way." So while I think there's some truth to your racism argument on a historical basis, I don't think it completely explains the problem. At least we don't have race riots here. Can California say that?
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    Re: What is the problem with Mississippi?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ahlevah View Post
    You know, I'm well aware of Mississippi's racist past. I am also aware that there are bubbas here, but then there are bubbas everywhere. Honestly, I don't think people have a clue about the racist history in my home state, California. There was a lot of racism there against Mexicans, Chinese, Koreans, Japanese, Filipinos, blacks--you name it. One could say WASPy Californians were equal opportunity bigots. My wife and I once bought a house there where we received a copy of the subdivision's original Conditions, Covenants, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) as part of a title search. The only people who could legally buy that house were WASPs. You could have had the money of a Rothschild, but if you were a Jew you would have been just another "kike" told to take a hike. And yet the place prospered. At least in the last century a black could buy property in Mississippi. It might have been a shotgun house on the south side of the tracks, but at least he could own it! But if you were Japanese or Chinese in California, you were screwed because 1) you couldn't get citizenship, and 2) California said if you weren't a citizen you couldn't own real estate. And since few people wanted to hire "Japs" or "chinks" as anything other than farmhands or day laborers, they started laundries or restaurants or farms using leased land or buildings. My Lutheran grandmother always said "Where there's a will, there's a way." So while I think there's some truth to your racism argument on a historical basis, I don't think it completely explains the problem. At least we don't have race riots here. Can California say that?
    What's the difference? Easy. When I was growing up in MS, we - meaning us racist whites (including me and my family) - would point at the race riots in other places (esp. Chicago) and we'd tell each other "see, that's where the real racists are". Tell me, how different is that one question from your diatribe above?

    Not very.

    I'll give you another example. In Shaw, MS - where I graduated high school in 1980 - there was one doctor's office in town. It had two entrances. Above one entrance was "Whites" and above the other was "Coloreds". The words were completely painted over with green paint...but paint doesn't hide inch-deep chisels in marble so well...and the townspeople obeyed those signs. When I came back home on leave from the Navy in 1984, those signs above those doors were still there...twenty years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act. And the people still obeyed them. And I didn't even raise an eyebrow - I was still (unknowingly) racist at the time and figured that's the way it had always been, there's been no problems, so why worry about it?

    Now you have to ask yourself why the people still obeyed those signs? The answer's easy - we whites owned almost all the businesses, almost all the money, and almost all the real political power. If any blacks were so "uppity" as to make trouble like they did (in our opinion) in Chicago or NYC or LA, those blacks (we'd call them something else, of course) and their families would find themselves out of any jobs they might have...and there's nothing, absolutely nothing the blacks could do about it. That, sir, is why you don't hear of riots in MS. At least in California there were whites who would stand with the blacks (and other minorities). In MS...not so much, lest said "ni**er-loving whites" find themselves (and their families) out of work and unable to get hired elsewhere...just as what happened to the blacks.

    Now, back to your complaints about California. As you know, MOST of California is rural, and as I described in my first reply, those in rural areas tend to be more racist (not because they're white, either - the same dynamic is found all over the world). What's more, California gave us Reagan (remember my reference to Lee Atwater in my last reply?) and Proposition 13 which gutted so much of California's educational infrastructure. What I'm getting at is that YES, you're going to find racism to differing extents anywhere you go (and I've been around this world, remember - got lots of stories)...but nowhere in America is it as deeply entrenched as it is in MS...and nowhere in America are the minorities so powerless to stand for themselves as are the blacks in MS, for in MS, they believe (rightly or wrongly) that no one of real consequence will stand with them. So they endure, and stay under the radar by being friendly sometimes even to the point of being a modern-day Stepin Fetchit. But if they get to really know you and realize that you're not like the white racists they've dealt with all their lives (like several did in the Delta when they saw how strongly I supported Obama even to the shame and disgust of my family there), then they start to open up...and you start hearing things you didn't know before.
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    Re: What is the problem with Mississippi?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ahlevah View Post
    You know, I'm well aware of Mississippi's racist past. I am also aware that there are bubbas here, but then there are bubbas everywhere. Honestly, I don't think people have a clue about the racist history in my home state, California. There was a lot of racism there against Mexicans, Chinese, Koreans, Japanese, Filipinos, blacks--you name it. One could say WASPy Californians were equal opportunity bigots. My wife and I once bought a house there where we received a copy of the subdivision's original Conditions, Covenants, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) as part of a title search. The only people who could legally buy that house were WASPs. You could have had the money of a Rothschild, but if you were a Jew you would have been just another "kike" told to take a hike. And yet the place prospered. At least in the last century a black could buy property in Mississippi. It might have been a shotgun house on the south side of the tracks, but at least he could own it! But if you were Japanese or Chinese in California, you were screwed because 1) you couldn't get citizenship, and 2) California said if you weren't a citizen you couldn't own real estate. And since few people wanted to hire "Japs" or "chinks" as anything other than farmhands or day laborers, they started laundries or restaurants or farms using leased land or buildings. My Lutheran grandmother always said "Where there's a will, there's a way." So while I think there's some truth to your racism argument on a historical basis, I don't think it completely explains the problem. At least we don't have race riots here. Can California say that?
    Oh, and one more thing for full disclosure - I'm no stranger to California. I was born in Crescent City, lived in Eureka, Arcata, and San Diego, and my oldest son was born in Oxnard.
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    Re: What is the problem with Mississippi?

    They problem is they get too much in federal aid. States like new york, illionois, and california have residents pay more in federal tax then they get back from the govt. Mississippi and all the other red states need to stop mooching of the govt and pay their fair share.
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    Re: What is the problem with Mississippi?

    Quote Originally Posted by 99percenter View Post
    They problem is they get too much in federal aid. States like new york, illionois, and california have residents pay more in federal tax then they get back from the govt. Mississippi and all the other red states need to stop mooching of the govt and pay their fair share.
    There is a quick way to solve that problem. Take most of the Federal Programs and hand them to the States.

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    Re: What is the problem with Mississippi?

    Quote Originally Posted by LesGovt View Post
    There is a quick way to solve that problem. Take most of the Federal Programs and hand them to the States.
    Yep i agree. Blue states need to stop subsidizing red states.
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