How North Carolina Might Rescue Itself

Save us, greed. You're our only hope.


Published:

Decker

N.C. Department of Commerce

Someone might have just thrown this state a life preserver. It’s below-average, to be sure — more a stained seat cushion doubling as a flotation device than a raft — but it’s something.

It turns out that crazy is bad for business.

State Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker spoke with reporters and editors in Raleigh on Monday to talk about her business-recruitment plans, supposedly the tip of the spear of Pat McCrory’s JobsJobsJobs economic development agenda. That’s been derailed a bit. CEOs are, like much of the rest of the nation, wondering what the hell our major malfunction is (from Lynn Bonner at the N&O):

Decker said the Commerce Department is going to develop a statewide economic development plan that will include county-specific strategies. The department is working with county economic developers on the statewide plan.

She said the persistent protests of legislative actions are making it hard to market the state.

“I’m fielding calls every day,” Decker said. “The current climate makes it very challenging to market North Carolina.”

While the so-called Moral Monday protests have drawn national attention, Decker said that most of the calls she gets are about the tax plan. She said later to questions about the regular protest demonstrations: “I think it’s important folks speak up, and I encourage that.”

The easy way for a right-winger to respond to this is to argue that it’s them dadgum protestors, makin’ all that noise and monkeyshinin’ for their friends in the librul media. Except that the legislative record to this point speaks rather loudly for itself, and now the most prominent publications in the country are pointing to Raleigh and blinking in amazement.

No doubt many of you have seen The New York Times’ editorial yesterday on “The Decline of North Carolina” by now —I’ve seen it posted on Facebook 2,194 times, give or take — and The Washington Post’s reaction to the abortion-bill outrage. (Which, incredibly, is topping itself on the outrage-o-meter as I write; McCrory finally takes some kind of semi-hearted stand against the madness, and what do House Republicans do? Just stick the abortion language on a motorcycle safety bill. What do you even say? These people not only have no shame, their brains apparently can’t even process the concept.)

The reddest of the red-hots manifestly do not care. Unfortunately, this third-world pile of legislative dung tends to repel the kinds of people this state increasingly depends on for jobs. It has nothing to do with morality or principle; it’s the unerring hand of the marketplace, showering favor on the just and plague on the wicked. Go ahead and cut those taxes, and we’ll love ya for it, but don’t go embarrassing us, now. Mouth-frothing rubes, as our market research has shown, constitute a fairly limited demographic.

Which is why, I suspect, we’ve seen some tentative pushback lately against the more feverish members of the General Assembly from the McCrory Administration — not enough to get anyone riled up, but just enough to announce its presence to any wise men bearing jobs and considering a relocation to Cary or Pineville or High Point.

The problem is, most of the damage is already done, and it’ll be even harder to undo now that the GOP-gerrymandered district lines that enabled this mess has received another level of sanction. (In reality, it’s next to impossible to get those plans overturned.) So that’s what we’re facing. Even if, by some miracle, this brand of wild-eyed Republicanism is knocked back a step in next year’s election, the current will flow their way for at least the next eight years or so.

And then we’ll be left with a monstrous mess — a pile of rubble that’ll take this state years, perhaps decades, to dig itself out of. This was a marvelous state for a long time. It’s taken a gang of low-grade bullies and dim bulbs roughly six months to all but ruin it.

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Charlotte had a Democratic mayor that got rebuffed by a Democratic majority council before the president appointed him to his cabinet; a former mayor in the Governor's Mansion after an oh-for-infinity streak; membership in a state that sees Charlotte as, well, another state; a neighboring state where public officials do very, very silly things (and sometimes go "hiking"); and a county commissioner who specializes in insulting constituents yet can't seem to get himself unelected. Sounds interesting to me, so I write about it and other matters public. Hashtag #nestpoke. You want to yell at me, email nestpoke@gmail.com.

About Greg Lacour

Greg Lacour spent nearly 10 years as a reporter for the Observer, where he covered Charlotte and Mecklenburg County government, including the infamous Nick Mackey for Sheriff farce of 2007-08, which made him simultaneously homesick for his hometown of New Orleans and hopeful that Charlotte might yet attain "world-class" status. He has written several features for this magazine and took part in the Hurricane Katrina coverage that won The Sun Herald of Biloxi/Gulfport, Miss., another former employer, a Pulitzer Prize. Lacour is single and lives in NoDa.

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