About 1954 M**** of Ohio moved to L******* County, Tennessee and opened a factory. The first generation of country people who went to work there held onto their farms and worked 18 hour days. After a shift at the factory, theyíd go home and raise all the crops and animals they ever had. Owning their own land, they were able to build up an estate for their children.
DOWN INTO EGYPT
The second generation was content to work at the factory and let the land go. If they stayed, they limited their farming to raising cattle or trees. Most of the land wound up in the hands of paper companies.
The third generation depends completely on their factory jobs. In the meantime M*****, as the largest employer in the county, set wage rates, and they set them low, so wage rates have remained low over the past 50 years... After all, they didnít move down here because they were philanthropists; they moved down here because labour was cheap.
Meanwhile the rest of the middle class has nearly disappeared, aided no doubt by dropping wages and the invasion of Wal-Mart and other chains. The multitude of restaurants, bakeries, small shops, groceries, hardware stores, shoe shops, dry goods stores, dairies, craftsmen and most other small businesses have vanished. What middle class remains is a small crust of lawyers, doctors, dentists, and, of course, the inevitable bankers.
In a county once covered with independent freeholders -- self-sufficient farmers and small business owners -- most people have become propertyless employees.
The predictable sequel has unfolded in the past few months as M***** teetered on bankruptcy. A few weeks ago in one morning they laid off over 100 supervisory personnel. Then they shut down two of three production lines. What employees are left expect the rest of their production to be shipped to Mexico or China -- where the labour is still cheaper.
On November 8, 2004, M***** declared bankruptcy.
HEALTH & LIFESTYLE
The shift from freeholder to employee led also to lifestyle and diet changes. No longer do they exercise in their work all day, or eat a diet high in vegetables, home grown meat and eggs, and raw milk. Rather, they get little exercise and eat a processed diet weighted down with sugar, refined flour, soft drinks, and other carbohydrates. The dietary and lifestyle changes leave the third generation with chronic health problems, notably high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. Without insurance furnished by an employer they cannot afford health care, which keeps them chained to a job.
Over the same fifty years, a people who trained their children to avoid debt have become addicted to debt. Where once father and mother laboured their whole lives to pass on a farm or business to their children mortgage- and debt-free, the children are now mired to their chins in debt. Not only have government schools and agencies taught them that no one can succeed in business or farming without constant borrowing, but the consumer society has also seduced them into mortgages, car loans, credit card debt, and borrowing of all kinds. Where once only Daddy worked, now Mama must work, too, to make the payments, so the children must go to daycare.
If they lose their jobs, they lose everything, because they own nothing.
THE MODEL OF LOVE
How do we combat the effects of greed? Mankind has already been fighting it over 6,000 years with only spotty success. Besides, the economic philosophy of modernism and industrial capitalism sees no evil -- or at least no remedy -- in the destruction of a community such as Iíve outlined above.
The remedy lies in the Law of God. Obedience to that law defines "love." The Ten Commandments are divided into the First Table, the first four commandments defining our duty to God, and the Second Table, the last six commandments that define our duty to our fellow man.
Christ summed up the whole of these duties when asked what was the greatest commandment. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and all thy soul, and all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment, and the second is like unto it: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."
Too often we remember only half of the law, the forbidding. But every law that forbids an evil also commands a good. If we have only refrained from hurting our neighbour, we havenít fulfilled the law. Rather, we must also positively try to do him good. The Eighth Commandment, for example, commands us not to steal, but at the same time also commands us to promote our neighbourís wealth and well-being.
As yet, the League of the South hasnít given the Southern people any reason to trust us. Christ said that if we would be the greatest of all, we must first be the servant of all. We must serve, and become the servant of, our people. That is our only road to leadership. Otherwise we are just the latest brand of revolutionaries shouting, "Trust us & let us change everything!" Donít be too surprised if the sensible Southern people say, "No, thank you."
Thru public education industrial capitalism (not free enterprise) has turned a nation of freeholders into a nation of employees. To reverse our peopleís present economic serfdom, then, we must reverse what modernism has done. We have to turn employees into freeholders. Doing that will demonstrate that we really do have the best interests of the Southern people at heart, and a workable plan to help. It must become a crucial part of League Chapter activities.
THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE MODEL
The Chamber of Commerce model to promote prosperity relies on drawing industry into the community from the outside to create jobs. It aims to draw outside money into the community. Fine, as long as outside demand remains strong. When that weakens, however, the community discovers exactly how dependent it has become on that outside money, and to what extent employment has been centralised and made vulnerable to forces outside the community. .
The Chamber of Commerceís mistake lies in (1) centralising employment, and (2) not building up the local economy from the inside out. When employment is centralised in one or two large employers (oligopoly) then the large employer sets the wage rates for everyone in the community, and not just his own employees. Obviously, employment security becomes dependent on the economic health of those large employers -- not just for their employees, but for everyone else in the community through the knock-on effect.
To build up the local economy from the inside out means to encourage local people to take care of local peopleís needs. Why should Tennesseans buy tomatoes in season from California? Lettuce? Milk? Or cigars from Florida or the Dominican Republic? Or . . . you name it. Most of lifeís necessities we can raise right here quite economically, and often with a competitive advantage. We can grow locally, produce locally, and buy locally.
Why donít we?
First, because our people have left or been driven off the land or out of business because they have depended on imported jobs. Second, they have been dumbed down by public education and robbed of their desire for economic independence and their entreneurial ability. We can help them reverse those shortcomings.
UP FROM EGYPT
In the microcosmic example that opened this essay we saw the progression from freeholding to wage slavery. The first generation kept their farms and worked in the factory -- 18 hour days. The second generation refused to do that and gave up their farms and sold them to the paper companies, taking land out of agricultural production. The Third generation now wholly depends on external employment, and faces sudden job loss because of corporate bankruptcies, downsizing, or factories moving to Mexico or China.
What is the answer? A healthy local economy furnishes each otherís needs. Local people can fulfil local needs, patronise each other, and built a lasting foundation for local prosperity.
Our people have no idea how to become freeholders or financially independent. We have to take a two pronged approach, to free every one personally, and then to help those who can become freeholders.
GET OUT OF DEBT
After 50 years of government & corporate propaganda seducing them into debt, it will be hard to change past habits and extricate our people from debt slavery. In early 2004, average consumer debt in the United States was $18,250.00 [sic] per debtor. Add a mortgage to that Ė we have dug ourselves a very deep hole indeed.
How do you break the chains of debt slavery? Thereís only one way: get out of debt. Impossible? No, it just takes patience, perseverance, and a plan.
Sit down together, husband and wife, and calculate all your debts. Whoa! Donít give up yet! You may be shocked, but thereís a simple way out.
Work out a budget. Write down everything you spend for just one month. (Stop moaning, itís easy. Buy a small pad and carry it with you. Youíll establish the habit of writing down every expenditure in just three days. Make it a game with your spouse.) Once you have collected all your figures, sort them out on a big piece of paper into categories: rent or house payment, insurance, food, auto repairs and gas, clothes, entertainment, etc. Go over the figures and establish how much (or better, how little) you should be spending in each category. Now youíve got a budget.
But knowing your spending habits isnít changing them, and hereís a sure fire way to change them: the envelope budget. This has worked for thousands of couples, and it will work for you. Get a box of envelopes, and on each one write down the category, and how much you have allotted for that category every month. Next time you get paid, donít deposit your check: cash it. Take the money home and sit down together and put the allotted amounts into each envelope. As you need it, take out the money to pay your expenses. The catch is, when the moneyís gone, itís gone. Use no credit cards for any reason. Never spend more in any category than youíve allowed, and be sure to set aside one envelope for "Debt reduction." Start with your smallest debts first, and as soon as youíve paid them off, move on to the others. (Obviously, donít stop making payments on the rest of your debt at the same time. Just concentrate on paying one debt at a time by paying extra on that one.)
Donít laugh, it works. After six months on the envelope budget, my wife and I had broken forever our addiction to credit cards, and saved enough money for a second car, to boot. By the way, itís important to engage your children in this budget. By watching Momma and Daddy handle their money carefully, children learn to handle their own. And youíll be helping yourself, because the envelope budget will help you spare money you would otherwise have blown -- money that will get you out of debt.
But isnít everybody in debt? Maybe, but it makes a difference for you, because on every cent you borrow, you have to pay interest. Over the course of a thirty year mortgage, for example, you will pay about three times the cost of your house. Think about it. If your house costs $100,000, you pay $300,000. Could you use an extra $200,000, or do you like slaving for the bank? Try doubling or even tripling your monthly payment. Every house payment you make in advance saves you hundreds of dollars in interest.
Ever notice that in every small town or city, the newest, costliest, and flashiest building is the bank? Why is that? Could it be they are fattening off our debt addiction? Isnít it time you put the bankers on a diet, so they will stop feeding off you?
Obviously, not everybody has the desire, drive, or knowledge to become a freeholder. For those who do, the biggest obstacle is often ignorance. They know how to produce something, but nothing about marketing, management, and accounting. We canít offer our people financing, but we can offer them the next best thing: our expertise. We can show them how to market themselves and their business, how to manage it, and how to keep their books.
Opportunities for freeholders are limitless. In farming, for example, new technology makes it possible to avoid huge capital inputs and debt and still make six figures on 60 acres. In cities anyone willing to clean houses can work all he wants. I know of one fellow making a handsome living raising mice to sell to zoos and bird farms. Owning and operating vending machines brings a good living. Another fellow travels all over the country washing windows. The truth is, in a world where most people exhibit a shiftless wage slave mentality, conscientious, hard-working, diligent people can sell their labour at a high premium. All they need to do is find the customers.
ECONOMICS FEEDS BACK INTO POLITICS
Our economic goals dictate certain political goals. The League of the South ought to push abolishing all laws and regulations that discriminate against freeholders. These artificial barriers must be brought down so that freeholders can compete with giant corporations. For example, almost every state regulates milk more stringently than heroin. Why shouldnít farmers be able to sell healthful raw milk right off their own property? Or fresh meat? Why arenít they free to set up produce stands and sell home grown vegetables or tobacco?
Every farmer has an inalienable right to sell his own produce directly to the public without being subject to any sales tax or privilege tax. Every freeman has the right to engage in any occupation of common right without being subject to sales tax or privilege tax. By the gift of God these natural rights belong to every human being, particularly the right to make a living. The League of the South must assert this right in legislative halls across the South.
So called "privilege" taxes, whether they travel under that name or "licensing" or "regulation for the public good or health," can only be enforced against corporations, because these are juridical persons, legal fictions created by the legislature to confer the privilege of limited liability and eternal life. But the laws intended to capture for the state some part of the benefit which a public corporation bestows have been unjustly and tyrannously extended to private activities of natural human beings. For us, earning a living is a right, not a privilege, and we must make that right a reality, or Southern economic renewal will stay a pipedream.
It is precisely the cost of complying with the maze of regulations, laws, and taxes that shuts and bars the door to competition from small freeholders. Large corporations can afford the compliance costs. Small freeholders canít. So-called "health" regulations or licensing or zoning, ad nauseam, effectively bar the small freeholder altogether so that he can never enter the market to compete. Of course, corporations make large political donations, while non-existent small freeholders donít.
One example will suffice. Recently state regulators attacked a farm in middle Tennessee. Why? Rogue meat and milk retailers. These farmers had the almighty gall to sell their own farm-grown milk and meat labelled as "dog food." After the farmers spent over $25,000 defending themselves against the charge that they were operating as "unlicensed pet food distributors," they gave up.
What a victory for the public health! What a victory for Big Brother! Tennesseeans had been protected from exercising their own wits about what they would or would not eat, and from whom they would buy it. No telling what would have happened if Tennesseans had been allowed to make those decisions for themselves. Why, why it would have been Ė freedom!
From this congruence of economic and political aims it becomes obvious that pursuing the economic well-being of the Southern people (as the League of the Southís statement of purpose sets forth) dovetails with our political, social, and cultural well-being as well. Freeing our people from debt slavery and helping them to independent freeholding throws off huge benefits on every side. Raising them to greater effort and responsibility in money matters inevitably raises them to greater political, social, and cultural efforts as the vision of a new, free, and independent South becomes a reality before their own eyes.
Compatriots, we need only begin to act and we will see that reality in our own lifetime. How do we accomplish such a huge task? One small step at a time, so as my grandfather would say, Grab a root and growl!