In North Carolina and South Carolina native observers have noticed a phenomenon frequent enough to have a label–Halfbacks. This does not refer to football. It refers to well-to-do Northerners who have moved to Florida, become discontented, and moved halfway back. The coastal areas of the two States are full of gated communities of mini-mansions already occupied by Northerners who the Halfbacks are now joining. This is true of other attractive areas as well. Asheville is now almost as rich and lavender as San Francisco.
The presence of such people produces their familiar atmosphere–electric car charging stations, elite shopping, jogging paths and green spaces seized from private property, demand for taxpaid public services customary in wealthy Northern communities, and general contempt and condescension for the locals. All of which is more a burden than a benefit to the natives. One is tempted to say that their presence recreates the conditions they fled the North to get away from.
The South long ago made a bargain with the Devil. To relieve our chronic poverty created by the brutal war against our independence and our “Reconstruction,” we sought Northern capital, having little of our own left. We have indeed alleviated some of our poverty. Things look better than they used to, and many are happy with the bargain.
But there have been costs, some tangible and some not so tangible. The newcomers often have no connection with our history and blood, our still cherished unique identity.
We have bent over backwards, never a good position to be in, to bring in industry with subsidies and tax breaks. Our well-placed native lawyers, bankers, developers, and the beneficiaries of crony capitalism have done very well. I am not so sure how successfully the new prosperity has trickled down. In my observation most of the hard hands-on work is done by the natives, white and black. And their situation, like that of all American labour, is becoming more tenuous and marginal all the time.
In newly imported industries the executives are also imported. It is the hard-working natives who fill the lower ranks. In fact, throughout the South, Northerners occupy most of the seats of power in the corporations and progressive state government agencies that have come into existence through federal orders or cost-sharing temptations.
The truth is many of our State and local leaders have long nourished an inferiority complex. We are backward and unprogressive and must strive to be more like the North. This is most evident in higher education. There is hardly a college in the South without imported administration and faculty. Our leaders never had a clue about the wonders that could have been created with the great expansion of higher education if we had nourished our native culture. Their idea of progress was a second-string Ohio State or Purdue.
There are other causes as well, but the newcomers have helped the flourishing of a dominant but useless Republican party, which accepts our votes and holds us in contempt. The Republican party takeover of the South is without any benefit. It has been entirely negative. And the unceasing leftward movement of the federal government is a direct consequence of the disappearance of the restraining power of the old Southern Democrats.
In South Carolina, the “conservative” Republican legislature and governor spend more money than any Republican legislature in any State. The money does not go to failing institutions like education and law and order, but to flourishing crony capitalism. The State government is a crony capitalist enterprise managed by politicians without any motive other than improving their own status. The same is true of other Southern States.
Without question many good people from beyond the Potomac have come to the South, attracted to us not by money and warm weather but because they recognized something worthwhile. Select outsiders have always been attracted to us. I know quite a few such people and I salute them.