Rural Electrification Administration

By Hunter Wallace

The following excerpt comes from The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture: Agriculture & Industry:

“When the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) was created in 1935, less than 4 percent of farms in the southern states had electricity. Without it, many of the comforts of modern life were unavailable, and for that reason the South enthusiastically welcomed the REA. In 1936, when Congress gave the REA statue authority, southern congressmen were among the agency’s most ardent supporters. The Southern Policy Association, a group of southern congressmen eager to promote southern development, endorsed the REA bill and regarded electrification as an important step in that direction.

As the REA began operation, southern farmers quickly established electric cooperatives, and the percentage of farms with service slowly grew. By 1941 the national average had climbed to 30 percent, and, although the southern percentage was lower, the South moved steadily ahead. At the end of World War II, the REA started a massive construction program to finish the job, and by 1955 virtually 90 percent of the South’s farmers had electrical service. Although the effects of electrification were evident nationwide, they had the most dramatic impact in the South, owing probably to the region’s higher number of substandard homes when the REA started.

By providing running water and indoor toilets, the REA finally helped bring an end to the hookworm that had ravaged the south for over a century …”

According to free-market theorists, the entrepreneur should have responded, but … sigh.

Anyway, next time libertarians tell you the state has never accomplished anything remind them of the TVA, mass literacy, splitting the atom, NASA putting a man on the moon, eradicating the boll weevil, ending malaria, polio and hookworms, ending sharecropping and child labor, and bringing electricity to the rural South.

About Hunter Wallace 11763 Articles
Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Occidental Dissent

10 Comments

  1. I would happily support the creation of a Japanese or South Korean-style broadband network here. Feel free to decry it as “socialism” or “wealth redistribution.”

    Of course you would support while not questioning its cost. Tell me, how can you support anything without knowing the cost? I think the new BMW 5 series is a wonderful car . Although I can afford it, I prefer to drive the hatchback I purchased for $9,000 earlier this year. This is an example of making a value judgement. What type of value judgement do you make for having a Japanese/South Korean Internet connection speeds? Note that there are no cost parallels as Japan and S Korea are 10 and 15 times as dense as the US. I’m happy with my internet service. I can download large files quickly and stream Amazon/Netflix online. Unless someone is streaming gobs of p0rn at ultra hi-def, current internet speeds should be adequate. Unlike all of the straw men Hunter keeps erecting about free market theorist, what markets are most useful for is ensuring that resources are allocated based on consumer value preference. Regardless of how nice the Internet connections are in South Korea and Japan are, the question Internet providers must make is whether the consumer is willing to pay for the cost. Markets are efficient at allocating resources based on consumer’s value judgements. Hunter, I’m sure you would love to have Japanese or South Korean internet connection speed but you don’t want to pay the price. That’s why you would prefer to have the cost shifted to the tax payer and away from yourself.

    And if you are in love with the idea of having the government own the Internet infrastructure, have you considered that the ACLU may sue to restrict transmitting religious content on the Internet just as they successfully sued having religious displays on government property? Have you considered that “hate” sites like this one may be shut down if the government own the Internet?

    • Jeff,

      “Of course you would support while not questioning its cost. Tell me, how can you support anything without knowing the cost? I think the new BMW 5 series is a wonderful car . Although I can afford it, I prefer to drive the hatchback I purchased for $9,000 earlier this year. This is an example of making a value judgement. What type of value judgement do you make for having a Japanese/South Korean Internet connection speeds? “

      Right now, I pay taxes that support public goods like education, healthcare, and infrastructure in my state and yours.

      “Note that there are no cost parallels as Japan and S Korea are 10 and 15 times as dense as the US. I’m happy with my internet service. I can download large files quickly and stream Amazon/Netflix online. Unless someone is streaming gobs of p0rn at ultra hi-def, current internet speeds should be adequate. Unlike all of the straw men Hunter keeps erecting about free market theorist, what markets are most useful for is ensuring that resources are allocated based on consumer value preference. Regardless of how nice the Internet connections are in South Korea and Japan are, the question Internet providers must make is whether the consumer is willing to pay for the cost. Markets are efficient at allocating resources based on consumer’s value judgements. Hunter, I’m sure you would love to have Japanese or South Korean internet connection speed but you don’t want to pay the price. That’s why you would prefer to have the cost shifted to the tax payer and away from yourself.”

      1.) The US lags behind 10 other countries. The difference is that the free-market creates a service that is more expensive and restricts access. Of course, this is also true of healthcare, or electricity in the 1930s.

      2.) It seems to me that we can choose to be more like other advanced industrialized nations like Japan and Germany, or more like Honduras. Those in the libertarian boat are free to admire Bangladesh and Honduras, but the rest of us have our own ideas about these matters.

      “And if you are in love with the idea of having the government own the Internet infrastructure, have you considered that the ACLU may sue to restrict transmitting religious content on the Internet just as they successfully sued having religious displays on government property? Have you considered that “hate” sites like this one may be shut down if the government own the Internet?”

      I never said the government was incapable of making stupid choices. Of course, if it were not for the government, I wouldn’t have electricity or broadband here anyway.

      • Hunter,

        “I never said the government was incapable of making stupid choices. Of course, if it were not for the government, I wouldn’t have electricity or broadband here anyway.”

        You would not still be without electricity today where you live. You don’t even have to be on grid to have electricity anymore.

        Regarding broadband: so what? We made it on dial up before broadband and we made it without Internet before that. I’m pretty confident you would have dial up at least. You would eventually get broadband, but if you live in a poor or rural area, you aren’t going to be among the first to get it.

        Also, you never did answer my question:
        What kind of free Internet would the gov owe you if you lived in Alaska?

        • Jeff,

          “You would not still be without electricity today where you live. You don’t even have to be on grid to have electricity anymore.”

          Granted, it is possible we may have gotten electricity in my area in the 1980s at the rate private utility companies were expanding their service in the 1920s, but it would still have been vastly more expensive due to the higher prices. Alternatively, rural areas in Germany, France, and Japan had over 90 percent coverage by 1935, so I will just note here that the free-market was outperformed by its competitors in other nations.

          “Regarding broadband: so what? We made it on dial up before broadband and we made it without Internet before that. I’m pretty confident you would have dial up at least. You would eventually get broadband, but if you live in a poor or rural area, you aren’t going to be among the first to get it.”

          That’s true.

          In the US, the free-market delivers an inferior and more expensive product that underserves poor and rural areas. This failure is due to the unusual strength of free-market ideology in the US whereas other countries invest in their broadband infrastructure.

          “Also, you never did answer my question:
          What kind of free Internet would the gov owe you if you lived in Alaska?”

          Seeing as how Sweden, Norway, and Finland have tackled this problem, I don’t see why it would be a problem here. Sweden and Finland are two of the countries with better internet than the US.

          • Hunter,

            “In the US, the free-market delivers an interior and more expensive product that underserves poor and rural areas. This is failure is due to the unusual strength of free-market ideology in the US whereas other countries invest in their broadband infrastructure.”

            The free market is not more expensive. It is the most efficient.
            I think this one post hits the bottom line of you argument, being that the free market serves paying customers where the gov redistributes wealth. Your argument here is that the gov should give you Internet at taxpayer expense. Should the gov give you a phone too? What about a flat screen tv?

            Your whole angst against free market is because you live in a poor rural area and want everybody else to pay for everything with a tax to make it richer. Do you think we should send money to Vietnam to help them out since the free market has left them much further behind than Alabama?

            Quoted me:
            “Also, you never did answer my question:
            What kind of free Internet would the gov owe you if you lived in Alaska?”

            You said:
            “Seeing as how Sweden, Norway, and Finland have tackled this problem, I don’t see why it would be a problem here. Finland is one of the countries with better internet than the US.”

            I’m talking about rural Alaska. Would you expect the gov to give you free, fast Internet if you lived in rural Alaska?

    • Jeff,

      “Of course you would support while not questioning its cost.”

      “Have you considered that “hate” sites like this one may be shut down if the government own the Internet?”

      From one Jeff to another, Thank-you.

  2. 1.) The US lags behind 10 other countries. The difference is that the free-market creates a service that is more expensive and restricts access. Of course, this is also true of healthcare, or electricity in the 1930s.

    The healthcare industry is hardly free. It is one of the most highly regulated industries. Government restricts medical services through licensing, drug and equipment approvals. It legislates cost shifting through subsidies and mandatory emergency care. The US healthcare system doesn’t even function as a “free market.” It’s a giant third party payer system where the third party is either the government or the insurance company. When the healthcare market was freer and functioned as an actual market where the 1st party actually pays, medical care was much cheaper. Don’t believe it. Check this out:

    http://m.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2010/10/medical-inflation-case-study

    Why was “free market” medical care cheap and government medical care has become expense?

    As for electricity, the government did not make it cheaper to provide electricity. The REA was nothing more than an office used to administer loans to electrical cooperatives. The REA provided cheap capital (low interest loans + long term amortization ) to electrical co-opts. The private sector is in the unenviable position to not be able to conjure up cheap capital like the government. The government, through taxation, inflation (money printing) , and borrowing has access to a near infinite amount of capital. And unlike the private sector, they are accountable to no one. I know you will say that you got what you wanted out of the government. That’s OK. I know everyone wants to ride in the cart but no one wants to pull their weight. Most people’s view of government is Santa Claus. There is no winning against the free shit army. By the way, the same economics that made it costly to deliver electricity to rural areas are the same economics that made it too costly to deliver municipal water and sewer to rural areas. There are economies of scale associated with providing electricity, broadband, water, sewer to a high concentration of people that doesn’t exist in scarcely populated rural areas. I don’t hear anyone crying because rural folks rely on private wells and septic tanks for water and sewer. One other thing to add about the economics of providing power in the 1930s and how it differs today is the amount of power being sold. Providing power to rural/remote areas in the 1930s involved a high fixed cost with relatively little power being sold. In the 1930s most rural homes only had a few light fixtures to power, and those light fixtures were likely infrequently used. In the 1930s, Georgia Power lost half of its rural customers. Today, rural homes use much more electricity, including heating, cooling, lights, TV, oven/stove, computer. Due to the amount of electrical usage, it should be more economical to provide electricity to rural/remote areas than in the 1930s.

    2.) It seems to me that we can choose to be more like other advanced industrialized nations like Japan and Germany, or more like Honduras. Those in the libertarian boat are free to admire Bangladesh and Honduras, but the rest of us have our own ideas about these matters.

    Where have I heard this argument before? Oh yeah, “It’s the CURRENT YEAR!!!” Leftist love the argument where they

    a) Declare the US to be a 3rd world country

    and/or

    b) Frame the argument such that their opponent is standing in the way of PROGRESS.

    Vox Day has a book SJWs Always Lie. I would rename the book book All Leftist Always Lie. I try to humor the things you say or at least try to take you seriously. But to claim that the US on a whole is the equivalent Honduras or Bangladesh and it’s due to libertarianism is outright bullshit and deserves no intelligent response. Your area of the Black Belt may look similar to Honduras or Bangladesh but it’s not due to libertarianism (for the record, I don’t consider myself a libertarian). It’s due to Black people. There may be some barrios in the US that may resemble Honduras or Bangladesh but it’s not do to “free markets.” It’s because of the 3rd world immigrants. Capital “L” Libertarianism may bear responsibility due to it’s advocacy of open borders but this is not due to “free markets.”

    I never said the government was incapable of making stupid choices. Of course, if it were not for the government, I wouldn’t have electricity or broadband here anyway.

    If government can provide services better, cheaper, and more plentiful than the private sector, why not have government provide all good and services? You never can seem to get around to answer this.

    • Jeff,

      “The healthcare industry is hardly free. It is one of the most highly regulated industries. Government restricts medical services through licensing, drug and equipment approvals. It legislates cost shifting through subsidies and mandatory emergency care. The US healthcare system doesn’t even function as a “free market.” It’s a giant third party payer system where the third party is either the government or the insurance company.”

      The US healthcare system is more “free-market” than its Canadian and Western European counterparts.

      “When the healthcare market was freer and functioned as an actual market where the 1st party actually pays, medical care was much cheaper. Don’t believe it. Check this out:”

      Healthcare in the US is more expensive than in foreign countries like Canada, Denmark, the UK and Norway.

      “Why was “free market” medical care cheap and government medical care has become expense?”

      We don’t really have a government-run healthcare system. We have a mixed system that is more expensive and covers fewer people.

      “As for electricity, the government did not make it cheaper to provide electricity. The REA was nothing more than an office used to administer loans to electrical cooperatives.”

      The electrical cooperatives, with the government loans, rapidly expanded electrical service to rural areas, while the public takeover of private utility holding companies suppressed the outrageous rates.

      “The REA provided cheap capital (low interest loans + long term amortization ) to electrical co-opts. The private sector is in the unenviable position to not be able to conjure up cheap capital like the government. The government, through taxation, inflation (money printing) , and borrowing has access to a near infinite amount of capital. And unlike the private sector, they are accountable to no one.”

      I’m just glad we got electricity in rural Alabama in the 1930s instead of the 1980s.

      “I know you will say that you got what you wanted out of the government. That’s OK. I know everyone wants to ride in the cart but no one wants to pull their weight. Most people’s view of government is Santa Claus. There is no winning against the free shit army.”

      If the government is Santa Claus, then perhaps the free-market is Uncle Scrooge? Regardless, there are better ways to provide public goods like education and infrastructure – roads, bridges, electrical service – than leaving it up to the free-market system.

      “By the way, the same economics that made it costly to deliver electricity to rural areas are the same economics that made it too costly to deliver municipal water and sewer to rural areas. There are economies of scale associated with providing electricity, broadband, water, sewer to a high concentration of people that doesn’t exist in scarcely populated rural areas. I don’t hear anyone crying because rural folks rely on private wells and septic tanks for water and sewer.”

      This is just another way of saying that the free-market leads to underinvestment and retards economic growth.

      “One other thing to add about the economics of providing power in the 1930s and how it differs today is the amount of power being sold. Providing power to rural/remote areas in the 1930s involved a high fixed cost with relatively little power being sold. In the 1930s most rural homes only had a few light fixtures to power, and those light fixtures were likely infrequently used. In the 1930s, Georgia Power lost half of its rural customers. Today, rural homes use much more electricity, including heating, cooling, lights, TV, oven/stove, computer. Due to the amount of electrical usage, it should be more economical to provide electricity to rural/remote areas than in the 1930s.”

      There’s no disputing that electricity in Alabama is cheaper today thanks to nuclear and hydroelectric power. I believe we are ranked #5. in net electricity generation.

      “Where have I heard this argument before? Oh yeah, “It’s the CURRENT YEAR!!!” Leftist love the argument where they

      a) Declare the US to be a 3rd world country

      and/or

      b) Frame the argument such that their opponent is standing in the way of PROGRESS.”

      Much of the Deep South really is a Third World country with an average per capita income similar to Mexico or Brazil. This stems from same of the same causes which have made Honduras into what it is today.

      “Vox Day has a book SJWs Always Lie. I would rename the book book All Leftist Always Lie. I try to humor the things you say or at least try to take you seriously.”

      I’ve read the book. It is about SJW entryism. It has nothing to do with economics.

      ” But to claim that the US on a whole is the equivalent Honduras or Bangladesh and it’s due to libertarianism is outright bullshit and deserves no intelligent response.”

      This is another straw man argument.

      I’ve said that you want a low-tax, low-wage, low-regulation, low-investment economy. Is this not true? If so, then what you are advocating is turning the South into a Third World country because those are several of their defining characteristics.

      “Your area of the Black Belt may look similar to Honduras or Bangladesh but it’s not due to libertarianism (for the record, I don’t consider myself a libertarian).”

      Like Central Appalachia, the Alabama Black Belt was burdened with an extractive economy, and suffers from the double burden of the federal government’s misguided effort to address the problem through expanding democracy.

      It’s due to Black people. There may be some barrios in the US that may resemble Honduras or Bangladesh but it’s not do to “free markets.” It’s because of the 3rd world immigrants.”

      1.) The aforementioned Third World immigrants are here because of the poultry processing industry.

      2.) The blacks here are a legacy of slavery, but the vast majority of them left a long time ago after the demise of sharecropping.

      “Capital “L” Libertarianism may bear responsibility due to it’s advocacy of open borders but this is not due to “free markets.”

      The poultry processing industry is responsible for attracting illegal aliens to this area.

      “If government can provide services better, cheaper, and more plentiful than the private sector, why not have government provide all good and services? You never can seem to get around to answer this.”

      Because it is a straw man argument. My view is that the best system is where the public and private sector cooperate. A good example of this would be broadband internet in East Asia.

  3. ‘HW, you are really shining here. No matter what you think, my opinion is your talent really lies in your ability to do work on the post-Civil War South. In fact, post-Reconstruction South. Civil War historians are a big number. So big, in fact, I’ve been to symposia where the academic speakers openly defer in knowledge to amateurs attending. The Reconstruction field is always active, esp since Eric Foner opened it up to black academics.

    Your knowledge of the South in the, let’s call it 1876-1945 period, is incredibly impressive. And not just knowledge, but your ability to apply it in a discussion or debate. You’re a young guy & for two reasons, actually three, I think you should dump the idea of law school (if it was an idea). Please consider Grad School. I’m not necessarily sure your field is history. You ought to at least consider Poli Sci or Economics. Maybe even Sociology.

    It seems like you might have things to say or add to greater debates on subjects. In addition, the farther you stay away from the Civil Rights era the better will be your work.’

    I second Warspite’s appreciation of Mr. Griffin – though heartily disagree with his council.

    I do not think that Mr. Griffin would benefit from reentering an institution, as there would be a tremendous pull against both the originality and southern conviction of his work.

    I have seen school ruin the originality of many musicians, and, in this case, I think it would hurt a fine thinker.

    Furthermore, I cannot disagree more strenuously with Warspite over his admonition that Mr. Griffin ought, ‘stay away from the Civil Rights era’, as I think his mind is much needed there.

    Mr. Griffin’s article on the demise of Selma, in and as a result of the ‘Civil Rights Era’, and his tracing of the town’s political, economick, and cultural heritage, was, for me, the best article I’ve read all year, bar none – not just in it’s originality, but, in it’s complete refusal to engage in reductionism.

    That anthemick article, by implication, documents the misanthropick path of Federal modernity as it, like Sherman’s poorly laundered bummers once did, made it’s march through our beloved South.

    What excites me most about Mr. Griffin’s journalism and voice is that it can be the basis for a macrocosimick southern awakening from the chains of misindoctrination and self-defeating anti-nationalism – a large part of which has been the doing of the very institutions (sadly many of them Southern) whither Mr. Griffin would be compelled, in order to gain a graduate degree.

    Nobody gets a graduate degree without being ‘shepherded’ heavily into, and plied irresistably by, the academick federalist Weltanschauung.

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