The Political Economy of the American South

From Paul Theroux’s Deep South: Four Seasons on Back Roads, pg 48:

I was to hear this story all over the rural South, in the ruined towns that had been manufacturing centers, sustained by the making of furniture, or appliances, or roofing materials, or plastic products, the labor-intensive jobs that kept a town ticking over. Companies had come to the South because the labor force was available and willing, wages were low, land was inexpensive, and unions were nonexistent. And so a measure of progress held out the promise of better things, perhaps prosperity. Nowhere in the United States could manufacturing be carried on so cheaply. And that was the case until these manufacturers discovered that however cheap it was to make things in the right-to-work states of the South, it was even cheaper in sweatshop China. The contraction and impoverishment of the South has a great deal to do with the outsourcing of work to China and India, Even the catfish farms—an important income-producing industry all over the rural South—have been put out of business by the exports of fish farmers in Vietnam.

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