Aug. 29, 2004
blue states become Retro vs. Metro
SC Statehouse Report
29, 2004 - - With all of the talk in the presidential race
about red states (Republicans) and blue states (Democrats),
a new book breaks things down differently.
In The Great Divide: Retro vs. Metro America, authors
John Sperling, Sam George and Suzanne Hebrun argue the United
States really is two countries:
- Retro America, which includes most of the South,
the Rocky Mountain states and America's heartland, has an
economy generally based on extraction industries, agriculture
and low-wage manufacturing. The 25 states of the region
hold two-thirds of the land, but only one-third of the nation's
population. They take in $200 billion more of government
benefits than in the taxes they pay. People who live in
these states tend to have conservative religious and cultural
values. The area's politics is dominated by white Republicans
who "have carved out Retro America as their base and
are using the dangers of terrorism and permanent war to
try to create a new national unity and a new national party."
- Metro America includes the Far West, upper Midwest
and Northeast. The only Southern states in this grouping
of 25 states are Florida and Virginia. Metro state economies
are the economic engines of the country that promote innovation,
the "New Economy" and science. These states, dominated
by large metropolitan areas, are moderate culturally and
politically. Democrats tend to control these areas. According
to the book, "Metro America values inclusion, respects
science and social discourse, and promotes policies designed
to provide physical, economic and social security for all
families, both the 20 percent of the 'old traditional families'
and the 80 percent of the 'new traditional families.'"
WORLD: An Olympic moment
Reactions on privatization, global warming
Who's up and down
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The book, which is a treatise on how Democrats can regain
control of the nation, offers a Machiavellian vision: If Democrats
want to become the nation's majority party, they need to forget
the South and Retro America. Instead, they need to concentrate
on appealing to their real base - - people in Metro America
who tend to be more inclusive, ethnically diverse and moderate.
While the book is filled with compelling statistical information,
charts, photos and data, it is fundamentally worrisome because
of its pessimism and focus on generalities: In describing
America's great divide, its solution is to exacerbate the
divide by ignoring millions of Americans who live in small
towns and so-called Retro states.
It also ignores some trends:
- Two of the biggest Metro states - - New York and California
- - have Republican governors. And while George Pataki and
Arnold Schwartzenegger admittedly are in the moderate to
liberal wing of the GOP, they are offering non-Retro Republican
visions for Americans.
- Four in 10 of the governors from the Retro states are
Democrats, including states the authors likely would consider
lost causes: Wyoming, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee
Based on the tenets of the book, South Carolina indeed may
be the buckle of the belt of Retro states. But for Democrats
to just capitulate and give up on the South won't create a
better America. It will worsen problems throughout the country,
increase partisan bickering and alienate more people from
engaging in the political freedoms available to all Americans.
Bottom line: This new book includes information that is compelling
and makes you think. But we reject its pessimism and denigration
of the South. Progressives in both parties should take the
conclusions of the work as a clarion call to generate a vision
that will lead to cultural diversification, economic innovation
and political dynamism.
While two healthy parties are better than one, one America
is better than two.
NOTE: You can download the book for
free at: http://www.retrovsmetro.org
8/29: An Olympic moment
This week's cartoon by our Bill McLemore:
8/25: Port privatization is a good idea
To the editor:
I noted that you used the SCSPA as an example of good use
of services (Statehouse
Report, 8/1) Having worked on the waterfront for 40
years, I must disagree with you. Most Ports lease their terminal
facilities to private Terminal Operators (in most cases owned
by steamship lines) at a cost plus basis so that the investment
is paid by the lessee. This mean that they will bring as much
business as possible to their terminals. NYK line recently
purchased Ceres Marine Terminals and stated that the purchase
was to operate their own terminals. If the port terminals
were leased out, Charleston would have more business with
a far smaller overhead.
Under the present setup, there are no Board members that
have any knowledge of the needs and costs associated with
terminal operations. Rumor has it that the SCSPA has spent
$20 million on developing a yard computer program that is
still not working at the Wando Terminal. My youngest son is
the executive vice-president of a terminal in Long Beach,
California, and he told me that a system with all the bell
andwhistles costs $5 million.
No, I know that under the right setup for the state, leasing
the terminals out would benefit South Carolina far more. You
need to look farther than the PR of the SCSPA. Thanks for
-- Steve Hayes III, Awendaw, S.C.
warming may be normal cycle
To the editor:
I'm sure you are aware that the Great Lakes Region (in US
and Canada) had the coldest summer on record for the last
15-20 years, THIS SUMMER...BUT no doubt about the current
Statehouse Report, 8/22). Pictures of the North Pole
area prove it for me.
So, the issue is not the temperature on average, but the
cause, and intellectually acknowledging the fact and reality
of slow curves of global temperatures in history. My point
of course is: how do we NOT know that we are just on a normal
warming curve at the current time? With what happened this
year in the Great Lakes, a sign that we may be approaching
the "top" of the curve.
Finally, note that the previous warming curves were ALL before
any modern technology, population increases, and huge dependence
on oil, etc.....The Chinese have the best records of natural
phenomenon going back about 4,000 years. Iit would be interesting
to analyze their temperature data.
-- Steve Imbeau, Florence, S.C.
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SOUTH CAROLINA SCORECARD
Here's a "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" related to various
political events from the past week:
Coble. Hats off to Columbia Mayor Bob Coble who provided
information on his personal Web site about how seniors can
learn more about buying expensive prescription drugs through
Medalists. Congratulations to four Olympic medalists
with SC ties: Former Clemson sprinter Shaun Crawford (gold,
200 meters); former USC sprinter Tonique Williams-Darling
(gold, 400 meters); former USC sprinter Otis Harris (silver,
400 meters); and USC volunteer coach Melissa Morris (bronze,
100 meter hurdles).
Poverty, health insurance. It's a sad reflection on
South Carolina's economics to learn that more people don't
have health insurance (13.1 percent) and more people are in
poverty (14 percent).
Hurricane response. When Tropical Storm Gaston blew
through Charleston County this weekend, where was the state
and the ever camera-crazy governor? Nowhere to be seen. Maybe
everybody was off for the weekend. (The state Web site people
obviously were because there was no mention of the storm on
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