“Save your confederate money, boys, the South will rise again.” One-hundred-forty-nine years later, it doesn’t seem likely. And any revival of the old South will be financed, not by Confederate Greybacks (some of which pictured slaves working contentedly in the fields), but by Greenbacks issued by a federal government still reviled across much of the region. For despite the anti-Washington furor reaching its biennial crescendo this political season, southern states remain disproportionately dependent on the United States Treasury. South Carolina, for example, gets almost $8 in federal largesse for every tax dollar it sends north, a list whose top ten includes seven southern states. And despite what its politicians try to tell us, they need every dollar. For on almost any scale – from education to obesity, from household poverty to delinquent debt, from food stamps to unemployment – southern states lag far behind the rest of the nation. Nor does charity begin at home: the tax money they get from the citizens of Connecticut, California and New York is money they don’t have to get from their own citizens, who pay some of the lowest taxes in America.
Despite all this, southern political representatives in Washington, many of whom are the “career politicians” so disdained back home, continue to rail against a government that has become not just their employer but their benefactor. Next April will mark 150 years since Appomattox, and yet America remains both a divided nation and a poorer one because of the continuing sectional hostility.