4 months ago

America’s impending divorce

The New York Times recently published a very insightful article pointing out the political polarization among America’s state governments. We read that a full 29 state legislatures are dominated by Republicans. Democrats control 18. The Times pointed to a specific example of Illinois and Alabama to show the extreme contrast in social policy.

In Illinois, the Democrat-dominated legislature recently declared abortion a fundamental human right. In Alabama, the Republican-controlled government voted to ban nearly every abortion. Other polar opposite decisions on drugs, gambling, and tax policy were also cited. Extrapolate this across the country and what emerges are two distinct Americas struggling to make the national marriage work. But what the Times did not say in the article is that this is nothing new.

America has always been pretty diverse on a social level— much like Europe. Some states had religious tests for those wanting to serve in local government. The right to vote was restricted on the basis of race, or sex, or property ownership or all the above. As an extreme example, slave and free states existed simultaneously for decades.

In other words, states in the early days of the Union retained great latitude to organize their communities in such a way as uniquely represented their peculiar interests, or even prejudices — except in one critical area which would later challenge the young Republic in a way not perceived when the Constitution was ratified in 1789: the national economy.

Late 18th century America pretty much looked the same to most observers. Yes, there were some marked differences between each state. But every state was similar in that they had a relatively small population, were mostly rural, and benefited from open immigration and a free-trade economic policy.

So it made perfect sense for the Framers to create a common market between the States, and a largely free-trade policy with other nations.

But as chattel slavery disappeared in the North —replaced by an industrial economy— and slavery (with its reliance on exports) expanded in the South, a tug-of-war developed in the federal government over whether the country’s economic policy would favor protectionism or laissez fare free trade.

Since the Constitution empowered Congress — and Congress alone — to rule on this issue (which actually impacted people’s pocketbook depending on where they lived), America began to divide. In 1860, this internal friction led to the bloodiest war in American history. So it’s important to note that America’s first “state divorce” was precipitated, not by slavery per se, but by two diverging economic systems vying for control of a single common market.

Following the defeat of the Confederacy, a uniform economic policy of protectionism was enacted, and the South began to industrialize. When a monument honoring Southern Commander Robert E. Lee was erected in Richmond in 1890, several Northern newspapers protested Southern “disloyalty,” but the New York Herald scoffed at such a charge, noting that the only real rivalry then existing in the country between North and South was the same “as between the East and the West. It is based on commercial prosperity, products, and money-making. [Today] we are all hunting for dollars…” [emphasis added].

Space does not allow us to go into the details of the post-Civil War history of America’s economic rise. Suffice it to say that America’s rapid industrialization, population growth, and westward expansion created unprecedented economic growth and development — which went into overdrive following the devastation that World Wars I and II caused among traditional European competitors.

With the growth of America’s influence, and the emergence of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency, America’s economic policy shifted from domestic to international. America became a global super power — and America’s industry and finance likewise jumped the border. This was good for business if you owned shares in General Electric (or its debt). Less so if you built cars for GE.

In 1970, America’s median household income, in today’s dollars, was $63,877. In 2018, it was $62,175. But that’s not all. In 1970, roughly 60% of households had a single income earner. In 2012, those numbers had flipped, and 60% of households had two earners.

This cursory glance at basic census data shows that most American households today work twice as long to achieve less income than they did nearly 50 years ago.

Of course, this economic bleed-out of American households took place when average CEO compensation rose from $1.5 million to $16.3 million.

All of these factors and more should have warned America’s political ruling class about the storm approaching. But they weren’t paying attention, and in November 2016, a hurricane hit Washington, D.C.

Donald Trump won because he tapped into the very heart of the gutted-out American landscape. He spoke to people who actually remember what it was like living in a single-earner household, and the enormous “social capital” it produced in communities with more parents (mostly mothers) able to take care of the myriad of community responsibilities now either provided by cash-strapped government agencies, or just ignored altogether.

A generation ago, people didn’t just have more money, they had a higher quality of life. More families were intact. Kids were less medicated. There wasn’t as much divorce, single parenthood, obesity, depression, chronic diseases, etc. Don’t believe me? If you’re over 40, how many pharmaceutical commercials do you remember as a kid?

The UK has experienced a mirror-image of this story. Likewise, Britain is also in the midst of a major political transition. The economic promises of the EU common market have not created a net-gain for the British economy or British society. Brexit was the UK suing the EU for a divorce.

Like the European Union, the American Union has also not achieved its stated objectives of “securing the blessings of liberty” to its people and their posterity. Simply put, America has become too big to succeed. Spread over 50 States, 3.5 million square miles of diverse landscape, and containing a population of 330,000,000 souls, how can one central government not turn into a colossal battleground between polarized extremes fighting for supremacy over an ever-stretched pie chart of budget resources?

America is the Western Hemisphere’s EU. The sooner American States realize this, the less messy the divorce will be. If people in Illinois cannot abide a society in which someone in Alabama is denied an abortion, then perhaps Illinois should start seeing other people, because, love ‘em or hate ‘em, most Alabama voters (both men and women) heavily support their state’s abortion policy — and don’t care how people in Illinois feel about it.

The trouble comes with the reality that the Constitutional wall separating a national economic policy from a state’s social policy was torn down a long time ago. America’s economic consolidation, and later globalization, led to an attempted social amalgamation using the billy club of federal power — not the “consent of the governed.”

For the American Union to survive, it must politically downsize and allow states to once again govern their own social policy. This means Illinois gets to marry gays and Alabama gets to ban abortions. The trouble is getting the political Genie back into the bottle.

As the Times article illustrates, American states are already culturally divorced. States disagree on the most fundamental of social policies. Whether it is education, or the environment, or family, or tax policy, there is no compromise. Even words like “personhood,” “justice,” “equality,” “choice,” “tolerance” or “rights” have disputed definitions.

The importance of a dominant culture is that it provides a “moral dictionary” of terms. Without this common moral dictionary, people living in a community find it hard to even have a conversation, much less find consensus on social policy. Imagine how this challenge compounds when it’s scaled up to 50 States and 330 million people? America has become a new Tower of Babel simply because people in Alabama don’t speak the same cultural language as people in Illinois.

And the danger of today’s two Americas is that the growth and scope of federal power is much greater than it was in 1789 — and far greater than the EU. Brexit may be a messy affair, but no one in Brussels is seriously advocating rolling tanks down Piccadilly Circus to stop it. But just ask Democratic presidential hopefuls in America how far they’re willing to go to stop Alabama from outlawing abortion, and their answers may shock you.

American states are headed for divorce. The only question is when it will happen, and how messy it will be.

For a marriage to be tolerable, it requires give and take from both parties. It means he gets his bowling nights and she gets her Downton Abbey. What doesn’t work is when one party gets to win 100% of the time. But that is the reality of America’s political forum today. It’s winner-take-all. There is no compromise. No middle ground.

Remember what I wrote at the outset: America’s first state divorce was caused by two diverging economic systems vying for control of a single common market. The second divorce will most likely be caused by two diverging cultures seeking control of a single “common market” of social policy.

It’s good news that more Americans are waking up to the disaster of economic globalism, which eliminates borders, destroys the middle class, rapes the environment and profanes green meadows with the exact same big box mart stores in every other community (then measures human happiness based on a nation’s GDP!).

But the question remains: when will America’s states realize that Washington has done to their social capital the same level of damage as globalism has done to their economic capital?

We may get our answer in 2020.

Jamie Carmichael is a writer in Alabama

7 hours ago

Roby: U.S. service academies nomination deadline is quickly approaching

It’s hard to believe we’re already halfway through the month of October. November will be here before we know it, and with it comes Veterans Day. This is a uniquely special holiday, and as it approaches, I encourage you to take some time to reflect on the endless sacrifices made by those who have worn the uniform.

It is a tremendous honor to serve the Second District, which is home to two of our nation’s finest military installations, thousands of active duty and reserve personnel, and a large veteran population. Working on behalf of our service members and veterans has always been a top priority of mine in Congress, and it continues to be one of the most rewarding parts of my job. With Veterans Day on the horizon, I am personally reminded of the great debt of gratitude we owe the men and women of our military.

334

As this important holiday nears, I believe now is an appropriate time to remind high school seniors in the Second District that the deadline to apply for nomination to the United States service academies through my office is less than one month away on November 8 at 5:00 p.m. Central Time. If you or someone you know is interested in pursuing this fantastic opportunity, please remember to submit all necessary materials to my Montgomery office by the deadline.

As a member of Congress, one of my distinct privileges each year is to nominate candidates for appointment to four of the five service academies: The United States Military Academy at West Point, the United States Naval Academy, the United States Air Force Academy, and the United States Merchant Marine Academy. The fifth service academy, the United States Coast Guard Academy, does not require a congressional nomination for appointment.

I can nominate up to 10 individuals for each vacant slot allotted to the Second District. If you are pursuing entry to one of our nation’s distinguished service academies and endeavor to serve our country, I would like to offer my sincere gratitude and wish you the very best. It is because of our veterans, active-duty personnel and young leaders with hearts for serving this nation that we enjoy our uniquely American freedoms.

In the spirit of the upcoming Veterans Day holiday, I offer my sincerest thanks to all who have served our country in uniform. It is an honor to represent you in Congress, and I hope you will call on me if I can ever be of assistance to you. If you are a high school senior in the Second District and are interested in learning more about obtaining a nomination to the service academies from my office, please contact my staff in Montgomery by calling (334) 262-7718. Additional application information is also available on my website: www.roby.house.gov/student-resources/service-academy-nominations.

Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.

7 hours ago

Tide continues to top AP poll, Auburn No. 11

The Associated Press released their weekly college football poll on Sunday, with the Crimson Tide holding on to the top ranking after a 48-27 win at Texas A&M and Auburn moving up one spot following a bye-week.

Alabama (6-0) received 1,503 total points and 30 first-place votes, while LSU (6-0) moved up to number two with 1,449 points and 12 first-place votes after beating Florida.

Clemson, Ohio State and Oklahoma rounded out the top five, followed by Wisconsin, Penn State, Notre Dame and Florida.

Georgia fell from third to number ten after a stunning home loss to unranked South Carolina. The top seven teams are all undefeated.

147

LSU and Bama will play in Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 9.

One conference has held both the top two spots 75 times since the AP poll started in 1936, none more than the SEC. Incredibly, this is the 27th time the SEC has simultaneously had the numbers one and two teams in the rankings since 2000. Ten of those times have involved the Tide and LSU Tigers at the same time.

RELATED: Return of ‘rat poison’: Saban warns players about listening to buzz about draft stock, records

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

8 hours ago

VIDEO: Almost everyone wants impeachment, Sen. Doug Jones feels the pressure, Alabama Democrats’ chaos continues and more on Guerrilla Politics

Dale Jackson and Dr. Waymon Burke take you through this week’s biggest political stories, including:

— Can President Donald Trump and other Republicans force House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) hand on impeachment?

— What happens if U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) votes for President Trump’s impeachment?

— Will Alabama Democrats ever end their infighting and unite as a party?

84

Jackson and Burke are joined by Lt. General Jim Link (U.S. Army – Retired) to discuss foreign policy matters in Syria and Hong Kong.

Jackson closes the show with a “parting shot” where he talks about how the NBA’s hypocrisy on Hong Kong will undermine all their social justice preening they do on American political issues.

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN.

10 hours ago

Rain barrels helping Alabama city combat flooding

Patsy Stallworth loves her rain barrels.

“I didn’t understand it at first, but after my husband explained it to me, I like it.”

Stallworth has two 55-gallon rain barrels installed at her home in the Mobile suburb of Prichard, catching up to 110 gallons of rainwater for her to use to water her flowers, wash her cars and wash the dirt off the house.

397

“I was amazed at how it worked,” Stallworth said. “When it rains it fills up really quickly. This is a new adventure for me.”

Rain barrels helping alleviate flooding issues in Prichard from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

The rain barrels were installed at Stallworth’s home, free-of-charge, thanks to a stormwater mitigation program organized by the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program. Christian Miller, Watershed Management Coordinator for the Mobile Bay NEP, said the rain barrels are a big help in reducing flooding in Prichard, which is part of the Three Mile Creek Watershed.

“We’ve had a lot of issues with residential street flooding and some issues with sanitary sewer runovers, so some of the ways to combat this are to put in these rain-catchment devices,” Miller said. “These two 55-gallon drums aren’t going to solve all of our problems, but as we get more of these out it will hopefully help to reduce these localized issues with residential flooding.”

An inch of rain falling on a typical 1,000-square-foot roof yields more than 600 gallons of water which, in urban areas like Prichard, ends up washing down streets and other hard surfaces, picking up and carrying pollutants into waterways. Miller said increased rainwater harvesting will help reduce impacts associated with residential stormwater runoff.

“The residents have been the biggest champions,” Miller said. “Once we get them in and see what utility they have, they go around and tell their neighbors, the neighbors come to see them and we get phone calls at the office. People really like them and want to have them installed at their house.”

Miller said dozens of rain barrels have been installed in Prichard thanks to donations of materials and labor, including 98 barrels at 46 homes installed by volunteers from Alabama Power Service Organization.

“We’ve got a really good partnership with several different entities,” Miller said. “Greif Packaging and Soterra LLC have donated the barrels and Alabama Power has been really helpful providing supplies and labor to help install. With those folks and Mobile Bay NEP, we’ve really had a good combined effort to put all of these rain barrels out around the community.”

To learn more about the rain barrel program, visit mobilebaynep.com or call the Mobile Bay NEP at 251-431-6409.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

11 hours ago

Return of ‘rat poison’: Saban warns players about listening to buzz about draft stock, records

Two years ago in College Station, Texas, one of University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban’s most famous lines was born.

After a 27-19 victory at Texas A&M, one in which the Tide led 24-3 and did not close to Saban’s liking, he lamented that positive media headlines about the team were “rat poison” to the players.

It must be something about the Aggies — or maybe it’s just this time of the season — but Saban brought the phrase back after Saturday’s 47-28 win on Saturday.

355

Speaking to reporters post-game, Saban was asked about quarterback Tua Tagovailoa becoming the school’s career passing touchdowns leader, moving ahead of A.J. McCarron with four touchdown tosses for the top-ranked Tide against No. 24 TAMU.

Saban gave a hat tip to how Tagovailoa handles himself before pivoting to talking about what really is important.

“Well, it means [Tagovailoa] had a great career to this point and we certainly appreciate his competitive spirit, the way he prepares for games, his leadership, the way he practices, his ability to help us score points on offense,” Saban answered. “He’s very instinctive, so it means a lot from that standpoint, but it also doesn’t mean much when it comes to, ‘What are you going to do in the future?’ And I think he has an opportunity, based on the type of offensive team we have, to have great production if he can continue to just stay focused on what we want to do.”

The legendary coach then referenced the genesis of the “rat poison” line two years ago in the same location, before explaining how it is relevant today.

“I mean, this is where — this very seat is where ‘rat poison’ was born,” Saban continued. “So I remember that two years ago, all right? And when I hear things in the media about whether guys are first-round draft picks or they’re setting great records and all that type of thing, that’s not really what I like for players to be focusing on right now.”

He emphasized, “You’ve got to focus on what are you doing right now, not what’s going to happen in the future, not really what happened in the past, but, ‘What can I learn from what’s happened in the past? How can I affect what’s going on right now?’ Because that’s what’s going to affect the future in a positive way. So, that’s how we want our players to think regardless of how difficult y’all make it for us sometimes with some of our players.”

RELATED: Yellowhammer Power Poll after college football week seven

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn