‘A Matter of Perspective’

It’s as if nothing created poverty, and no one benefitted from it: 

But the troubles in the Deep South go well beyond race to include frayed state finances, which have eroded the safety net for the poor, as well as public school underfunding, which leaves those who can afford it scrambling to private schools. And it extends to a growing technological divide that has left significant rural areas without access to the digital world; a rise in single-parenthood, which is a major indicator for generation-to-generation poverty; and the decline of rural job opportunities in states that have long relied on agriculture rather than on urban hubs.

What went wrong in Tunica is a matter of perspective. For many African Americans — and the county’s current officials — it was a story of a largely white political leadership that did not grasp the depths of poverty facing many black residents and did not choose to use the casino revenues that flowed into the county in an equitable way. So instead of funding skills training and providing programs for the vulnerable, they poured money into a riverfront wedding hall, an Olympic-size indoor swimming pool and a golf course designed by a former PGA Tour pro — all while implementing a massive tax cut that primarily benefited the wealthy.

“It is a success story for those in the right social circle,” said Engle-Harris, who is black, echoing the perspectives of many African Americans interviewed here.

To the political leadership that developed the casino plans and spent that money, however, the story is one of good intentions gone awry, an attempt to boost an industry that could potentially create jobs in a corner of the country that never had much of an economy or hope for the future.

Whatever the intentions, the results have left Tunica, and more specifically some of its residents, in an economically dangerous place.

All instances of the passive voice, because poverty is not something man-made but something which falls from the heavens upon people who just happen to deserve it in the eyes of Republican politicians, bolded.

No one did this. Politicians did not make decisions (or if they did, their decisions are “a matter of perspective”) and people did not express intentions one way or another. It all just happened, and really, who can know what the point was?

One of Tunica’s most controversial moves came at the beginning of the boom, when the new casinos hugging the Mississippi River rapidly started to generate millions of dollars. Just as quickly, the county moved to slash property taxes to the lowest level of any county in the state, which county officials said was an overture to businesses and investors.

Wait. I think I’m getting something.


One thought on “‘A Matter of Perspective’

  1. Yeah, that’s an extraordinary example of the use of the passive voice as an exculpatory tool. Moreover, doing the math, it’s not a huge windfall for a county–$35 million a year. Could do good things with that (steadily rebuild the county’s schools, for one thing), but, if the first impulse was to slash property taxes in a way that mostly benefitted the wealthy, the advantages of that money quickly disappear. And suggests that perhaps that was the motivation behind allowing the casinos in the first place, given that most of the county’s revenue came from the 100 largest landowners.

    What the article seems to downplay, too, is that this is fucking Mississippi. Should we expect anything less from a white-run county there? That the end result of this windfall would be that the county’s black residents are worse off? Is that really a surprise? That despite the additional revenue, the county’s been left indebted? Boy, I’ll bet the county’s annual audit reports make for some interesting reading… the South always has had a strong tradition in fiction.

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