Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Did slavery ever end in the US?

Many of people who came to US in the pre-colonial era were slaves. There were blacks who were forcibly brought to the US from Africa and white indentured servants.  Some of these indentured servants were prisoners and others were kidnapped. Many had 5-year terms but their contracts were bought and sold,  and some indentures never attained freedom.

The people who moved in the New England states and those in the South were different. One of the first people to chronicle the new nation was Alexis de Toqueville:
Caricature by Honoré Daumier, 1849.

The men sent to Virginia were seekers of gold, adventurers without resources and without character, whose turbulent and restless spirit endangered the infant colony ... Artisans and agriculturalists arrived afterwards...hardly in any respect above the level of the inferior classes in England. No lofty views, no spiritual conception presided over the foundation of these new settlements. The colony was scarcely established when slavery was introduced; this was the capital fact which was to exercise an immense influence on the character, the laws and the whole future of the South. Slavery...dishonors labor; it introduces idleness into society, and with idleness, ignorance and pride, luxury and distress.  .  . On this same English foundation there developed in the North very different character.

After the civil war, the US experienced the rise of the monopolists. Men like JP Morgan and John D Rockefeller controlled vast parts of the US economy with trusts. Many corporations has private armies of Pinkertons that patrolled factories to keep workers under control. There were many union riots after the Civil War and the government often used the army or national guard to suppress the strikes..

Striking workers in tent camps were even machine gunned. We celebrate Labor Day because of the infamous Pullman Strike of 1894. Thirty strikers were killed and 57 were wounded. Not really a cause for workers to celebrate.

The rise of labor and the trust busting efforts of Theodore Roosevelt and other progressives broke up the huge trusts. A middle class began to emerge in the US.

However, with the exception of Woodrow Wilson,the GOP controlled the White House up to the Great Depression and the election of the other Roosevelt, Franklin Delano.

After the allies were victorious  in World War 2, the New Deal continued. A housing and  education boom was stimulated by Veteran Administration benefits. Seniors could now enter into their golden years without fear of poverty, courtesy of Social security.

US public education was perhaps the best in the world at this time. One of three workers in the US was in a union. Only about one in 30 Americans was wealthy because Roosevelt funded the war with taxes on the affluent. He had no choice. This was the best of times for the middle class and their children, the Baby Boomers.

Then John F. Kennedy started fiddling with the income tax rate for top earning Americans.

This was when the New Deal started to unravel. Ronald Reagan finished the job when he cut the top tax rate to 28 per cent. These cuts fractured the middle class. Because of the draconian income  tax cuts, Reagan had to subsequently raise taxes 11 or 12 times.

Women also had to leave home and take jobs to make ends meet. Another wave of feminism began in the workplace. Schools and the public infrastructure started a long decline due to cuts in federal spending while defense spending increased.

So the best of times that started about 1946 and continued until about 1980. The US had a strong middle class, strong unions, an improved infrastructure and good public school system.

The big events that probably brought down the Democratic party were the Civil Rights Acts of the mid-sixties and the Vietnam War.

Southern Democrats called Dixiecrats left the Democratic party. Many retired and other became Republicans during the next 10 years These Dixiecrats had more to do with the rise of the GOP in the South than anything the Republicans did politically, contrary to the musings of Newt Gingrich. 

LBJ thought it would take the Democratic Party 10 years to recover, but it was closer to three decades.

The economic situation the South is still Topsy Turvy after 150 years  As the Daily Kos has written, the South has become one big poverty belt.

Slavery continued to exist in the US on plantations until the 1950s. The southern elite played poor working class whites against blacks, suggesting that the poor white's economic conditions were caused by black welfare programs rather than by the unequal income distribution in the southland.

Unions were kept out of the south and right to work laws were passed to repress workers. Essentially, slavery never really ended in the land of low wages, the south.

The old plantation owners were the basis of new white elite. Poor whites still operated the slave patrols for their corporate owners . Blacks became the bogeymen in this region, the cause of all that ailed the south. Jim Crow laws were passed to suppress black votes.

The conservatives have maintained control of the south since before the Civil War. It's the conservative politics that are largely to blame for the southern poverty today.

Rightardia has seen countless surveys in which the southern and red states lag behind the blue states. Education attainment, teen pregnancy, VD rates, food stamp use, and income levels all lag behind other regions of the country.

It if wasn't for food stamps.other welfare programs and  military payrolls in the red states, the region would even be more depressed.

Democrats know that the most of the red states are recipient states who receive more in federal funds form the government than they pay in taxes. 

Have things really changed in the south from the Ante Bellum era?

It seems there is still the same three tiers of owners, white indentured workers and marginalized black men and women.


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