When the revered 1890 state Constitution was written, it was in the era of the progressive movement. The mood was anti-corporation, distrustful of big business. Corporations were limited to $1 million, child labor laws, though opposed by the cotton and lumber mills, were enacted, even before the feds did it. Unions were respected.
My, how things have changed in this state. We still have the same constitution – if in name only. But the once-hated corporate interests have turned Mississippi’s governance upside-down. They now control the state’s leadership and set the tax structure, seeing to it that income taxes are kept low, and consumers carry 80 percent of the tax load. Business-industry lobbyists swarm legislative corridors.
Governors are elected because they out-promise contenders on creating new jobs-no matter how much taxpayer money is used to lure business and industry here. New plants are guaranteed they won’t have unions to contend with and laws of equity are capped to limit tort compensation for company negligence.
We pride ourselves on being a strong free enterprise state. But where has it gotten us? We have the nation’s lowest per capita income; we’re last in medical care coverage; government transfer payments are our biggest source of individual income; we’re first only in obesity.
So, what’s the future for this state, a state that has floundered in the backwaters of national economic progress since the Civil War? The kind of leadership we elect must be critical. Might that mean then that a Huey Long someday will amass a black-neck, red-neck coalition in Mississippi and drive the corporate crowd from the temple of governmental power? Think about it.
The Neshoba Democrat