S.C. Statehouse Report
Aug. 29, 2004
VIEW: http://www.statehousereport.com/columns/04.0829.retro.htm


Red states, blue states become Retro vs. Metro
By Andy Brack
SC Statehouse Report

AUG. 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.'"


McLEMORE'S WORLD: An Olympic moment

FEEDBACK: Reactions on privatization, global warming

SCORECARD: 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 and Kansas.

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 your time

-- Steve Hayes III, Awendaw, S.C.

8/22: Global 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 warming (see 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.


The best way to get South Carolina news is to augment your morning paper and TV show with SC Clips, a daily executive news summary compiled from more than 30 state newspaper and TV sources. It's delivered every business day and is packed with news of statewide impact, politics, business and more. Subscriptions are affordable at $30 per month -- and less for business subscribers. More: SC Clips.


Here's a "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" related to various political events from the past week:

Thumbs up

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 Canada.

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).

Thumbs down

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 MySCGov.com).

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The above version of S.C. Statehouse Report is the free edition. Our paid version, which costs about $100 per month, offer a weekly legislative forecast packed with information that can keep you and your business on the cutting edge.

Notes veteran lawmaker Sen. Glenn McConnell: "Statehouse Report gives an inside practical report of weekly problems with and progress of legislation. It reviews the whole landscape."

In each issue of Statehouse Report, you'll get::

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