Sunday, July 15, 2018

Bill Crawford: Is Government the Problem or Part of the Answer to Rural Poverty?

"Rural poverty skyrockets as jobs move away," read a headline on "The number of rural Americans living in poverty has skyrocketed in recent years amidst an economic evolution that has cost hundreds of thousands of manufacturing and mining jobs."

The problem is twofold, the article says – key employers in rural areas have shut down or moved away and educated young people move away. "Rural America is increasingly inhabited by older and less-skilled, less educated individuals, resulting in a rising poverty rate. In this century so far, there’s been a giant sucking sound coming from each major metropolitan area of the United States as it vacuums talent out of surrounding small towns and rural areas."

Despite record employment numbers in Mississippi, many of our rural counties fit this description.

Among the most impacted groups left behind in poor rural communities are black youth. "Mississippi’s black boys are more likely to live in poverty than children in all other racial and ethnic groups," said a story in Mississippi Today based on reports from the Hope Policy Institute. "Mississippi’s black men are much more likely to encounter the negative effects of poverty and live in communities that are similarly affected by entrenched generational poverty.”


Two Mississippi State University professors and one from The Citadel have the answers. In "Promoting Prosperity in Mississippi" MSU Associate Professors Brandon N. Cline and Claudia R. Williamson with The Citadel professor Russell S. Sobel present a series of essays that reveal how Mississippi can unleash prosperity to make everyone in Mississippi better off.

The book makes the case that decreases in tax and social welfare burdens, fewer regulations and ordinances, fewer financial incentives to attract industry, less occupational licensing, school choice, elimination of Medicaid, ending state-led efforts to reduce obesity, reducing incarceration rates, reforming civil forfeiture laws, eliminating interest rate caps on small-dollar lenders, lifting building codes during disasters and eliminating disaster insurance would make Mississippi prosperous.

"This book illustrates that if Mississippi embraces economic freedom, the state will experience more entrepreneurship, increased business and capital formation, higher labor productivity and wages, and overall economic growth," the authors wrote in the preface.


A decade ago, Dr. Marianne Hill, former senior economist with the Center for Policy Research and Planning at Mississippi IHL, published an article entitled "Solving the Poverty Issue in Mississippi." In it she provided a succinct solution, "The solution to poverty is straightforward, in a sense: economic and social development that penetrates all communities and population groups would reduce poverty to a manageable minimum."

"Full-time, year-round employment would enable many to escape poverty," she wrote, though such employment is not available in all communities. She added that "education is basic to well-paid employment" and "social safety nets" such as subsidized health insurance, child care, food stamps, youth mentoring, drug and prison rehabilitation programs "can be effective in preventing or reducing poverty."

Two perspectives. The economic freedom perspective would de-fund government and get it out of the way to allow those able to prosper to do so on their own. Dr. Hill's perspective sees a role for government spending to help poor individuals without skills and resources and to help rural communities attract jobs.

Which makes most sense for rural Mississippi?

Crawford ( is a syndicated columnist from Meridian.

Kingfish note: Both authors and the columnist (based upon just reading this column) ignore the biggest driver of poverty in Mississippi: skyrocketing unwed birthrates.  Some of these rural counties have unwed birthrates of 80-90 percent.  If nothing is done about this problem, forget "solving the poverty issue" or granting more economic freedom to fight rural poverty and that my friends, is the bottom line.


Anonymous said...

KF...your note at the end saved my need to comment. I can only say AMEN !

Anonymous said...

I'd go even further; in many cases, poverty is driven by poor decision-making coupled with the refusal to take responsibility and make better decisions. Consider the case of Cathy Lanier who got pregnant at age 15, and attended one of the worst schools in the worst parts of DC, she earned her GED, became a DC Metro Police officer, and after working her way through the ranks, in 2006 she was appointed Chief (the first ever female chief in DC). Cathy retired last year after nearly 27 years of service and is now the chief of security for the NFL.

Just because you made a bad decision, does not mean you can't take corrective action and improve your life - but it takes hard work, and many folks who bemoan their hopeless situation refuse to put in the effort.

Anonymous said...

This goes back to dumbing down our educational system, hence No Child Left Behind. This really hurt Mississippi. I have said this time and time again and I’m beating a dead horse. Our society keeps promoting going to college. Yes, some need it, but NOT ALL. We have to have blue collar and white collar sectors. It will not operate any other way. We destroyed a lot of opportunities to capitalize on a growing number of youth and literally sunk the, with our own doing by dissolving the Vocational/Technical Training at the High School level. We need 2 types of schools and we can be a leader with this if we use our heads. Some districts will absolutely not make it. But, test these students at the end of the 8th grade and even as far as the 6th grade and separate them into a vocational type education or a college prep education. I have 10 young men working for me that cannot read a tape measure. Sickening! What happened to learning how to read a damn ruler. Do they not teach basic math in school? Is it shameful to know how to read a tape measure? I’m beginning to think the momma’s are the driving force in our decline of our workforce simply because they don’t want their baby to get too hot or have some man or woman telling them what to do. We have manufacturing plants that can locate here and we are missing golden Opportunities to propel our state into something like we have never seen. Rural schools are hindering their taxpayers and future taxpayers simply because they think athletics are the only way to get out of this state. You want to make a greater state? It’s going to take some work. We have smart intelligent young minds here. But, when politicians get in the mix and only see a dollar for themselves instead of the people they WORK FOR, then there will be no change. Our schools have to be retooled as they say in the industry. I speak to so ,any employers that cannot find help and I do not work illegals! I refuse to! We shouldn’t because we have great people here.....they are just lazy.

Anonymous said...

High unwed birth rates and no education is the main problems.
Neither one will change until the people themselves decide they want a change.
Young girls do not have to have children before they are married and all children are given the chance for an education.
It is all their choice.

Anonymous said...

"The book makes the case that decreases in tax and social welfare burdens, fewer regulations and ordinances yada yada yada....."

The book does NOT 'make the case'. The book suggests those incorrect solutions. Nowhere is the 'case made'.

How are taxes affecting the impoverished and how would decreasing taxes affect them at all? How do regulations and ordinances affect the poor disproportionately and how would their elimination affect poverty?

What has 'occupational licensing' got to do with poverty? How would 'school choice' affect poverty when families continue to crank out fatherless children at the rate of 85% in the Africal American community at large in this state?

How (or why) would any state reduce incarceration while crime continues to increase? Allowing criminals to remain free will reduce poverty? When was the last time you heard of poor people being affected by civil forfeiture laws, if ever?

What have building codes during disasters got to do with poverty, other than NOTHING? Eliminating disaster insurance, thereby requiring the government to replace affected properties for free, would reduce poverty? Or would it simply increase dependency? So, the rest of us should pay to replace houses other than expecting people to carry insurance?

Prohibiting lenders from assessing risk and applying corresponding rates would do what..other than keep businesses from loaning money to people who likely can't pay it back. Didn't we see enough of that during the disastrous Clinton Housing Loan Programs?

How does government reduce obesity when a large segment of the population has been generationally dependent on lard and carbohydrates for a hundred years or more? Other than leading horses to water, where does the government's responsibility end?

How does government 'reduce' crime unless it gives things to people who will otherwise steal them?

How does government bring about a return to family structure when there is no desire to restructure families and why is that a responsibility of government?

Another bullshit article based on the impractical and unworkable notions acquired by masters-degreed knuckleheads who attended liberal think-tanks.

Anonymous said...

I'd be interested to hear how many of you would advocate for free birth control. This is the only effective way to reduce teen and unwed pregnancies as well as abortions and yet I've never heard a Republican in favor of it.

Anonymous said...

Adequate education including vocational/trade schools to teach marketable skills, and affordable access to pre-pregnancy birth control and post-pregnancy abortion, would go a long way toward reducing Mississippi's historical poverty rates.

Anonymous said...

Can't speak for all rural areas of Mississippi, but as for the Delta, when a young Black person gets an education and does the things you recommend, the next step is to get the hell out of the Delta. That's been going on long before I was born, and is still the norm. Their parents don't own anything worth mentioning and there is nothing to make them want to stay. What's left are the ones who did the opposite. They don't own nothing and they ain't even White.

Anonymous said...

Is it really 80 to 90 % of the births in these counties? Why aren't they teaching sex and life education in 1st grade?

Anonymous said...

11:22 nailed it. And that applies to black and white kids, poor and middle class. Why stay? The only ones that do have family reasons, ie money or power. Out highly educated kids move out of state consistently and I don’t blame them.

Anonymous said...

10:54, you are right. The Delta is a trap for anyone other than planters and corporations. Let’s face it. There are many areas where the young women think the only way out is through a child. Very very sad. We need to change that and give our youth a way to stay here and make something of themselves. I’m plainspoken and this is the only way a regular guy can convey his message. Anyone care to complicate this matter with Tater trying to get a new driveway for him and his neighbors at our cost? OUR swamp here needs to be drained and fast!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Mississippi is a giant tree plantation, with some crops and stock here and there. A Banana republic with no bananas. We're just allowed to live on it. Now when you live on the Georgia pacific tree plantation with subsidized corn and etc., there just isn't much available land to develop out in those rural areas, nor is there a desire.

Every once in a while, you smell the quaint odor of chicken shit coming from one of those yardbird factories, and that's about it for most of the lot.

The impoverished he speaks of are mostly remnants of sharecroppers and slaves who simply don't know how to escape the trap of this old plantation, save leaving if they can afford to escape. "De regulation" and the free market won't solve much of anything because what you've got is a cultural and tribal group think of the blues going on, and who could blame them? They 'beez in the trap'. Teaching abstinence? Forget about it. Part and parcel of the communist plot. The processed food the impoverished eat because it's cheaper contributes to the obesity, and even if they aren't impoverished, Vienna sausage is still seen as a folksy delicacy amidst a fast moving world ----- one step removed from the Hawaiian view of SPAM in our elderly population.

Fact is, our antiquated idea of the Mississippi entrepreneur is the guy selling boiled peanuts on the side of the highway-- a tradition I miss as a child. They were good, but the FDA has brainwashed me so to speak.

Now we could legalize some things. I was told if the confederacy would have won, we'd have it made. I 'spect y'all need start fulfilling that conjecture within the confines of the U.S. It would be a good idea to start with fixing some of those bridges.

Anonymous said...

@ 12:47

Perhaps we could come up with a way to relocate these poor souls from the "old plantation" to one of the thousands of inner city plantations in the north where black folks are doing soooo much better. Nice try dufus but this problem is far from being confined to Mississippi or the south for that matter.

Anonymous said...

10:54, how about we teach folks some self-control and morals, not to screw everything with a pulse, and that it’s impossible to get pregnant if you don’t have sex. Birth control is treating the symptom instead of finding a cure, your solution is basically capitulation, and tantamount to endorsement of irresponsible behavior. Life is hard, and sometimes you have to deny your urges in order to have a better life...

Anonymous said...

@1:06 everything we love about Mississippi, that defines our culture, and our memories is what’s unhealthy about Mississippi. That is what makes progress here so difficult. The inner cities have their problems, but this topic is about rural growth and expansion... in Mississippi.

When you start proposing changes to keep up with the world, you start to realize that you’re asking everyone to abandon, and more or less condemn, a way of life they know, and most importantly a way of life that they aren’t willing to concede. It’s not relegated to one race or another, silly. It’s an issue amongst all.

Anonymous said...

What's keeping the delta down is all the Chinese buying up the land for soybean. Soybean is the number one crop fed to cattle. Chinese love steaks.
Chinese own 75 % of delta land in shell companies. So, the Chinese could care less about the people in the delta. They got Bennie Thompson in their pocket.
One solution is for the state to tax the hell out of farm land & use it to promote the citizens. God Bless America.

Anonymous said...

And there it is. The Donald Trump crowd blaming the Chinese and sex for the poverty in the delta. Backwoods and tea party are such good partners

Anonymous said...

Entertainment is limited in the country, what else you think the kids are going to do.

Anonymous said...

@2:13.....Absolutely right. But not going to happen because the K-12 system and the colleges and universities are now the millhouses that employ the yeoman/yeowoman of yesteryear......and the power of Mississippi's "educational" system intends to keep it the status quo, with zero intention of elevating anyone that isn't related/connected to the Big Houses. Rich getting richer (with billions in federal dollars connected to those education systems) and the poor stay poor.

Anonymous said...

"I'd be interested to hear how many of you would advocate for free birth control. This is the only effective way to reduce teen and unwed pregnancies as well as abortions"......yada yada bullshit.

Free birth control my ass. Do you really believe these jackals wold stop indiscriminately screwing and pro-creating if birth control were provided to them on a daily basis? Condoms have been available free for twenty years. Medicaid gives free birth control. It takes a stellar idiot to suggest the out of control out of wedlock birth rate is affected by a lack of birth control.

Here's your sign!

Next this dumbass will tell us crime will decrease if we simply provide the yoots with midnight basketball.

Anonymous said...

The comments show why this state will always be last. Calling people of color "jackals" is very racist. The rate of sexual activity in rural areas is probably a lot less than Sorority Row. The difference is those on Sorority Row have access to good healthcare including birth control and do not hesitate to have an abortion. People of color in rural areas are the least likely to have abortions but they are always trashed because they are not white.

Anonymous said...

No serious discussion nothing but racist comments. This state is hopeless.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps we should devise a system to pay unwed mothers to NOT have children, and pass a law that mandates a father to pay child support without the mother to have to take his worthless ass to court.

StarRider said...

The welfare state pays these women to have children out of wedlock, and penalizes them if the man hangs around. Some of these people have been on welfare for generations. So the very thing that is one of the major causes of poverty is encouraged by government policy.

Anonymous said...

5:47 - Where was there a mention of 'people of color'. I dropped the out of wedlock card. You dropped the race card. The problem is twofold: Lack of a moral compass and the systemic eroding of the family. Meanwhile, you get twisted around the axle of 'not being white'. Morality, or a lack of it, isn't tied (necessarily) to skin color.

Turn your cap around. Get off your ass. Be an advocate for change, not for deflection.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it racist/prejudiced to assume that because you mention out-of-wedlock births you're referring to the black population, or is the race card your pretense for everything?

So...who is MORE racist, the person who calls the problem to light, or the person who assumes we're speaking of a particular group?

Please discuss...

Anonymous said...

Mississippi = 49th Young graduates, get out while you can.

Anonymous said...

Look at the litter in rural areas, nobody gives a sh!%. There needs to be a Civilian Conservation Corp requirement for all the subsidy takers in this sh!% hole state.

Anonymous said...

Claiming that "Chinese own 75% of Delta farm land" is pure bullshit.

Anonymous said...

I would suggest to all of you that good choices are based on access to good information and resources.

The examples that get cited as proof that one can rise out of poverty with personal initiative over looks that those who did likely were helped to take initiative by adults informing them of available options. And, they likely had adults who recognized that individual had the ability to take advantage of the available resources in the first place.

Milton Friedman had the sense to understand that a percentage of any population is going to be unemployable. You are not going to hire people who can't learn to even tell time. Some percentage do not have the ability to make decisions and will never be able to adequately function independently.
And, please, don't give me Down's children as your examples. Not all Down's children are at the higher spectrum or are born to parents who can maximize their abilities or overcome their health issues so please stop using them as you comfort example to hold on to your myths. They are examples of why you shouldn't be prejudiced. And, try to learn that some severely challenged people can look not only normal but are physically beautiful.

Anonymous said...

WOW! The Ph.D suggests that full time, year-round employment is the key to eliminating poverty. How profound! Why has no one thought of this before????

Now, if this Ph.d can do another study and tell us how to make feral children (1) educate themselves and then, once they reach adulthood (2) actually get up and go to work everyday, we'll have eradicated poverty. Good job, Doc.

Anonymous said...

What the hell is 9:24 attempting to suggest? I swear that post loses me. I can't say whether or not I agree with him/her since I have no clue what the post is suggesting or concluding.

Anonymous said...

It's Bennie's district...the king of 'da fish fry.

There's the answer to your question.

Anonymous said...

@ July 15, 2018 at 1:06 PM

"Perhaps we could come up with a way to relocate these poor souls from the "old plantation" to one of the thousands of inner city plantations in the north where black folks are doing soooo much better. Nice try dufus but this problem is far from being confined to Mississippi or the south for that matter."

your perspective is dangerously biased against black, giving you a false sense of superiority assuming life is better here in Mississippi than up north. Black Mississippians may have not escaped racism in the north, but economic opportunity was CERTAINLY BETTER.

The statistics are there for anyone to research. Look at the GDP in Chicago, Cleveland, NYC, Detroit and compare it to anywhere in Mississippi? The number of black-owned businesses? The Infrastructure? Education? Transportation?

Mississippi is a poorly ran state, henceforth the cities, towns, and county's perform poorly. Just because Madison and Rankin county has a million dollar home here and there, they assume the whole state is thriving.

Mississippi will not improve unti its starts seriously competing against its neighbors, take seriously the economic growth in the South East Region of the country.

The status quo in "conservative" leadership is tired old and keeping the state in 50th.

We need elected officials that care about dropping unemployment, improving instratucture, funding education, retaining homegrown talent, clean water, building the economy, getting Mississippi out of 50th.

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Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

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In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

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If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

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