Andy Brack needs booting out of the region

Published 2:08 pm Thursday, October 21, 2010

Is it possible, or even Southern, to vote somebody out of the region?

If so, we nominate Andy Brack, president of the Center for a Better South, who made a real clunker of a comment recently: “Returning the Gulf states to like they were before April is like fixing a clunker. You know it’s going to break down again.”

Excuse me?

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Makes you wonder how long it’s been since Brack has left the office of his Charleston, S.C., think tank. He must have hibernated there for some time, because he discounted all that’s good and modern in the region.

Brack made his comment at a symposium in Washington at which he outlined his report titled “Ideas for a Better Gulf.” The report covers the South’s problems, both before and after the BP oil spill, and suggests broad changes, including what he calls “leap-frogging” toward a knowledge-based economy.

Hey, we’re all for knowledge and growing the economy down here. But this particular report goes about it in the wrong way — with an attitude that reeks of arrogance.

For instance, it lists what’s wrong (paraphrased): We have a sorry business climate. We don’t make a lot of money. Our schools are weak, and that’s not much of a life for the children. Then comes the clincher: We’re fat.

He might as well have said that we don’t have teeth and that we marry our cousins. In fact, let’s just steer the poor old South straight to the junkyard.

His report, which spends an inordinate amount of time focusing on New Orleans, would quickly solve all those problems with a few simple actions. Among them: Get broadband access and laptops for the kids. Think “green.” Monitor the environment. And suddenly, you’ve got a well-oiled racecar of a region, fit to replace the old “clunker” that was falling apart, right? …

The South’s not perfect, but there are plenty of things to brag about that have nothing to do with overalls, bare feet or bigotry. So mind your manners, Brack, or we’ll have to suggest you use a new address — one outside the South.