Timothy Egan wrote a really good article over at the New York Times last night, The South’s New Lost Cause. It is very clever. He starts by contrasting Obama’s healthcare “lie” with how Lincoln lied to South when he said during his inauguration, “If you like the slaves you’ve got now, you can keep them.” Well, he didn’t use those words. He actually said, “I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the states where it exists.” But you get the idea.
Of course, it isn’t clear that Lincoln meant to lie. Had the southern states just stayed cool, they might have been able to to keep the slaves they liked. But Egan’s point is that slavery was a lost cause for the southern slave owners. He doesn’t get into it, but slavery was bad for the southern economies. It might have been great for some of that minority of southerners who had slaves, but it stopped the region generally from industrializing and moving into the modern world. With or without Lincoln, slavery was ending.
This is a similar situation with modern conservative economics. Business owners in general prefer the Republican Party. But the modern Democratic Party pushes economic policies that are better for the country and for the business community. Yet they continue to support the Republicans because they only look at their short-term interests. They don’t ask, “How can I increase the number of people buying my products over the next decade?” They instead ask, “How can I minimize the amount of taxes I pay next quarter?” (Ayn Rand always talked about how businesses had to look out for their “enlightened self-interest.” That shows what a fantasy she believed in. People don’t act like that. Communism is more believable than that!)
Now the south is at it again, hurting themselves in the name of another lost cause. Right now, southern (and other conservative) states are passing up the Medicaid expansion of the Affordable Care Act. Why? Egan is more blunt than I’m used to reading in the Times, “And they are doing it out of spite.” But it is more than just harming the poor. That’s no big deal for conservatives. They believe the poor are unworthy after all. They aren’t just spiting Obamacare and the working poor of their states. They are spiting their own economies.
Egan provides some numbers:
To provide some context here, there are about two million people employed in Kentucky. An increase of 17,000 jobs represents almost 1% of the total workforce and 10% of the unemployed. Accepting the Medicaid expansion will not only provide healthcare to tens of thousands who don’t currently have it, it will reduce the unemployment rate by an entire percentage point. Imagine that you were the governor of a state and the federal government offered you a free program that would lower your unemployment rate by a percentage point. You’d have to be really messed up to pass that up, and yet 25 states have said, “Hell no! We like our high unemployment and uninsured rates!”
Meanwhile, conservatives throughout the nation are very keen on the Keystone XL pipeline because of all the jobs it would create. Estimates indicate that it would create just a couple thousand for two years and then basically none after that. Even the company itself no longer holds to the 20,000 jobs number. But even if that were the case, nationally, that means nothing. It is roughly equal to what the ACA will do in Kentucky alone. There’s a whole lot of hypocrisy going on with the conservatives regarding Obamacare and the Keystone XL pipeline.
The south is as likely to rise again and re-enslave our African-American citizens as they are to avoid the Medicaid expansion as they years go by. I can’t help but think it all goes back to the same thing. Them Yankees ain’t gonna tell us true Americans in Texas and Alabama and Idaho what to do! Apparently, they would rather live in dirt hovels than allow the black Democratic president to “win.” It’s just awful because a lot of innocent people are harmed. For example, 70,000 people in Montana will go without healthcare and many others will go without jobs, all in the name of spite and meaningless political posturing.