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State Of Decay: Haiti Turns To Free-Market Economics And The UN To Save Itself | 1996



Publisher: Id Magazine

Date: July 11 to July 25 1996

Features Editor: David South

Cover: Phillip Smith

Photos: Phillip Smith

Inside Haiti: Can the U.N. Help Remake a Country? from Id Magazine 1996.






UNMIH press card 1996.
© David South Consulting 2017 

Pulling the Plug on Hate Rock | 1996


Publisher: Id Magazine

Date: June 13 to June 26 1996

Features Editor: David South

Investigative Reporter: Jayson MacLean

Cover: Gareth Lind

Illustrations: Charles George

White Noise: Musical Hatemongers Target the Mainstream

© David South Consulting 2017 


Redneck renaissance: A coterie of journalists turn cracker culture into a leisure lifestyle


By David South

Id Magazine (Canada), August 22 to September 4, 1996 

What happens when rednecks pick up a lesson or two from the world of identity politics? Mostly ridiculed by smug urbanites, or just plain ignored by the general population at large as cultural fads come and go, angry rednecks are standing tall in these conservative times. 

Part Mark Twain-like satire, reverence and condescension, a cottage industry promoting the southern American redneck lifestyle is starting to resemble past struggles for cultural pride. 

Just think of the gay rights movement in the 70s and 80s, which turned the derogatory word queer into a touchstone of homosexual pride. 

In the 90s, dismissing rednecks as a bunch of dumb crackers can not only ensure free dental work in many an American bar, it can also be seen as an affront to white American values. But while some want to stereotype this culture as the heart and soul of white working-class American ideals, it is hard not to be disturbed by this phenomenon. Can God, beer, the American Constitution and guns weave together a stable lifestyle? 

Author, radio personality and Redneck Olympics MC Bo Whaley was interviewed in a phone booth across from the bomb site at Atlanta's Centennial Olympic park. During the interview Bo was kicked out of the phone booth by Atlanta police for talking too long. He picked up the interview from a truckstop near Dublin, Georgia. 

id: What is a redneck? 

Bo: A redneck to me is a lifestyle, that's what it is. I relate rednecks to people who work hard, men of the soil. They look for the common things in life. They enjoy the outdoors, enjoy hunting and fishing. They aren't too interested in status or setting the world on fire. They like to do their own thing. Real close to being what we call a good ole boy. They enjoy life - they work hard and they party hard. 

There is nothing put on by them. They are down to earth. I really enjoy them, they are on the level. If you ask them a question they will tell you the truth. They aren't trying to impress anybody, just trying to be themselves. 

Go to the local bar and they are listening to the juke-box, smoking cigarettes and drinking beer. We can make fun of ourselves down here, we enjoy it. We laugh at ourselves. Poke a lot of fun. I'm having fun with people who live on farms, live in small towns. Like to hunt, like to fish. They drink beer. I have lived in the south for 24 years. I try to look at people and write what I see. I also wrote The Field Guide to Southern Women

id: I heard the Redneck Olympics didn't go down so well with the city council. 

The chamber of commerce was concerned about the image. We attract a lot of industry to the town, they were afraid what was going out was a negative image of the lifestyle that is going on in Dublin. 

We didn't know it was going to catch on like it did. At the opening ceremony we were expecting maybe 250 maybe 350 people - and we had 4,000! The national and international media has got into it. 

id: Are rednecks all right-wing? 

On the right of the political spectrum, yeah. Happy with Newt Gingrich. I don't think we take politics as seriously as up north. (Former U.S. president) Jimmy Carter is not very popular with the rural people here in Georgia. Well, I think when he went to Washington his values changed. I can name many, many people including me, who don't like him. Right now I'm five minutes from the Carter Centre in Atlanta. I've never been to it. Not really interested in what Carter is doing. 

He is trying to solve all the problems of the world. He looks at himself as more of a missionary than an ex-president. He goes to Haiti, he goes to South Africa, Bosnia. He calls these peace conferences and by-passes the established government in the United States to try to do his own thing. It's a self-serving thing. 

id: What do you think about the militia movement? 

I do not agree with them. Right now I'm standing across from Olympic park where they had the bomb go off. People that I talked to have no sympathy for the militia, they say let the established investigators handle it and they don't have any use for (the militia) at all. 

id: Do you think the militias are a symbol of the frustration a lot of rednecks are feeling? 

I agree. But they do a lot more talking than they do acting. 

id: Why do they distrust the federal government and imagine black helicopters are helping the U.N. to set up a totalitarian state? 

I think what they feel is that they know more about handling a situation than the government does and they want to do it on their own. I don't agree with that. The government's not perfect here nor in Canada. As long as it is the government I'm going to support it. I was not a Clinton fan but once he was elected he became my president. I have to support him until he gets out. But I don't support everything he does. 

id: Is the redneck style locked in the 70s? 

The redneck symbol is more popular than it has ever been. A lot of people in offices in stuffed shirts and ties who would love to get out and live this way but they can't do it on account of losing their jobs. They like to get in a jeep or ride on a motorcycle and say "whee" and to the heck with it. Everybody in the world needs some quiet time, time to yourself to do what you want to do. 

id: Do you think rednecks are in danger of extinction in the age of the Internet? 

They are on the increase. They don't know about high-tech stuff. They haven't even got into electric typewriter yet - they are still on manual typewriter. 

id: Do they have any heroes or heroines? 

They are beer people, and if they have any drug they smoke marijuana. 

id: I mean heroes. 

Many are country music fans, like Garth Brooks and Hank Williams Jr. They are big on country music. Female rednecks admire shows like Designing Women

Oh lord, they love T-shirts. The T-shirts say "Opry land," "Dollywood," "Get your heart in America or get your ass out." They don't like plain T-shirts.

id: Can you give an estimate of the number of rednecks in the U.S.? 

I travel more in the South Eastern states. In my hometown, in my home county, there are 37,000 people. Most of the people there, I'd say 75 per cent are working people, they either farm or work in factories. Out of those people, I'd say 20 to 25 per cent fall in the category of what I call redneck - they work hard all day and they play hard all night. Nationwide, I have no idea. I can tell you towns that have a lot of rednecks. Chattanooga, Tennessee - lot of rednecks. Columbus, Georgia, it's a military town. In Montgomery, Alabama they work real hard at being rednecks. 

id: Is there a problem with blurring rednecks with more negative elements like the Ku Klux Klan? 

No, I really don't see that. Most of the people I know can't stand the Klan. They give country people a bad name. 

id: Some guy at the Redneck Olympics had a Klan T-shirt on. 

I'm not surprised by that. The main thing you are going to see them wearing if they have anything to do with a symbol of patriotism is a Confederate flag saying "God bless America" and "God bless the South." 

id: What about the rebel flag? 

They do not want to give it up. There is some legislator in Atlanta who is trying to ban it, and this has to do with trying to appease a faction for their votes. But you get out into rural Georgia, rural Alabama, they want to keep that flag. To be truthful it has a lot to do with the civil rights movement.

id: That it means it's an affront to the civil rights movement? 


id: Are there yuppie rednecks? 

I know a neuro-surgeon living in Birmingham, Alabama, I met him through his wife while I was signing books. She came up and said "I've got to have one of those Redneck Handbooks," and I said "Why?" She said, "Because my husband is a neuro-surgeon and he's from Arkansas and all day long on in his office he's got his blue buttoned-down shirt, his navy blue suit and his spit shine shoes and driving his Mercedes. When he gets home in the afternoon he puts on his blue jeans, and denim shirt gets the pick-up truck, the dog gets in back and he starts riding in the woods." He's a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde type. I see a lot of that. They kind of let their hair down. It's a release for them. 

id: Do you see the redneck lifestyle as a different kind of leisure lifestyle, a more working-class leisure lifestyle? 

I think so, David. They put on ragged jeans, say to the world "I am a redneck." 

What they like to do is go fishing. They will go to the coast and go deep sea fishing. Especially they like to go to stock car races. Big stock car fans. The faster that car goes the better they like it, and the more wrecks they have the better they like it.


Casino Calamity: One gambling guru thinks the province is going too far


By David South

Id Magazine (Canada), May 16-29, 1996

Will Ontario become saturated with gambling? It is a question being asked more and more as the provincial government moves to allow unprecedented choice for gamblers.

Bars and hotels will soon have video one-armed bandits (known as video lottery terminals and slammed by the Addiction Research Foundation as video crack) and permanent charity casinos will be set up throughout the province.

Finance minister Ernie Eves’ budget may have brought joy to the hearts of the province’s gambling fanatics, but whether this is sound economic policy is less certain. Eves hopes to reap $60 million this year from the VLTs, or fruit machines.

Speaking to id under anonymity due to the sensitivity of his work, a private gambling consultant to the provincial government says the extended gambling could monkey-wrench the government’s on-going plans to build casinos to attract American tourists.

He says, “There is a maximum to any market area, to the number of people who will come. In Ontario, the idea was to have monopoly markets to create jobs and revenue for government. Spreading casinos out on the border areas would maximize jobs. But the introduction of VLT machines and permanent charity casinos means there will be a narrowing of the market. As soon as you set up the VLTs, there will be a permanent impact.”

He believes littering the province with casinos – both large and small – and VLTs, will be the equivalent of pissing in the wind for the government, arguing tourists will only be attracted to Ontario casinos if they consist of only a few, flashy must-see attractions based on the Las Vegas model.

Tourist temptation

The focus on tourists is key. Research has shown that gambling aimed at residents living near casinos can actually harm other local businesses like restaurants and movie theatres, as people spend more of their entertainment budgets on gambling. Add to this equation the fact that most of the profits go out of the community to Queen’s Park, and a casino can hurt local economies.

Knowing this, the government has instead focused on attracting tourists. In the case of the Windsor casino, it has worked – 80 per cent of gamblers there come from the US. The economic equation is simple: every dollar sucked in by the casino is a net gain for Canada that doesn’t hurt any other Canadian businesses (as for Detroit, that is anther story).

If the government keeps on its current course, Ontario could have 10 working government-owned casinos in the near future. By year’s end, the Windsor casino will be joined by Niagara Falls and the Rama First Nations casino near Orillia.

According to Anne Rappe of the government-owned Ontario Casino Corporation public outrage could change plans. “The government has been clear in its commitment to letting voters voice their view on casinos for other sites.”

Just a fad

Governments, like people, follow fads. The trend towards harder forms of gambling, like casinos and VLTs, as opposed to softer gambling like lotteries, represents a desperate move by local governments to hang on to tax revenues.

Even more than flashy schemes to build theme parks, art galleries and museums, casinos are seen as a sure-fire way to revive ailing communities by attracting tourists. Throughout North America, consultants and casino companies are telling government to turn to gambling if they hope to boost public treasuries and generate jobs. The pitch in these hard economic times goes down a treat with governments beseiged by voters to, on the one hand, reduce debt and deficits, and on the other be seen to be creating economic opportunity in the age of downsizing.

Casinos also serve another purpose. While taxes seem punitive, making money off of gamblers appears on the surface to be a win-win situation. The government gets the money it wants,while gamblers get the adrenaline rush they crave, and maybe some cash. The whole arrangement seems to be victimless – if you want to gamble, you pay the price.

For their part, gambling advocates envision Ontario as a Mecca for American gamblers chasing our low dollar, low crime, no tax casinos. They say we can have it both ways: a safe, low-crime Ontario in which islands of gambling fever suck in much-needed American dollars to prop up the provincial government treasury.

Gambling has been legal in Canada since 1969 (though the oldest casino is the gold rush-era Diamond Gerties in Dawson City, Yukon), but it wasn’t until the New Democrat government of Bob Rae that the idea of government-run or sanctioned permanent casinos became an option in Ontario.

The gambling consultant says the appeal of casinos is that they offer a sure-fire anchor to a local economy. He criticizes other developments like theme parks for being “too risky.” To make the most money, he says, casinos should avoid any pretensions to be slick, high-society affairs and instead go after the folks with “the family restaurant-style dress code.”

While the casino in Windsor is a lucrative success for the government – taking in a “win” of $500 million – local businesses have yet to report any of that money coming their way. Gambling experts say that isn’t about to change. With $400 million going directly to the government, and the rest covering expenses and the management fee paid to an American consortium running the casino, there will be little left for anyone else.

The Windsor casino is also drawing criticism for being a social parasite on Detroit, which supplies 80 per cent of the casino users. The influx of $1 million into Windsor means between 2,000 and 3,000 jobs are lost in Detroit, according to gambling expert William Thompson of the University of Nevada. Because of this, it is believed Detroit will soon set up a casino if voters say so.

A 1993 Coopers and Lybrand study commissioned by the government estimated Windsor’s win would be reduced by 60 per cent if Detroit were to open a casino.

That same study strangely found comfort in its findings that the average “pathological gambler” is male, under 30, non-Caucasian, unmarried and without a high school diploma.

It then goes on to say, “The typical US casino gaming patron earns thirty per cent more than the average of the US population, is between the ages of 40-64, is college educated and lives in a household of two or more members.” Just the kind of market that sends corporations into ecstasy.

Quebec example

The Quebec experience offers some valuable lessons for Ontario. Quebec’s three casinos were also looking to be a success until recently. The Quebec government and gambling advocates maintained the casinos (located in Montreal, Pointe-au-Pic and Ottawa’s sin-bin, Hull) were squeaky clean. Just like in Ontario, they remarked upon the impressive revenues – $1 million a day – and the huge influx of tourists. But closer scrutiny reveals the three casinos have not come without a cost.

Both Montreal and Pointe-au-Pic casinos have been criticized for preying on poor locals who spend the pittance out of their entertainment budgets on gambling. The casinos have also been involved in high-profile drug busts, money laundering scams and even murders committed by gambling addicts trying to extort money from relatives. At the Montreal casino, enterprising youth gangs targeted winners as they left the casino when it closed at three am. The robberies worked like this: A confidant would spot winners in the casino and then use a cellphone to tell accomplices waiting outside to mug the unsuspecting “lucky” ones still intoxicated by their good fortune.

All the rosy projections about casinos reviving the Ontario economy are based on several key assumptions: Americans will be the main users of the casinos, casinos in Ontario will not compete with each other or other sectors of the economy (restaurants, movie theatres, etc.), the social costs will be low and crime will not increase significantly, and most importantly, American casinos won’t lure away gamblers.

As for the gambling consultant, he doesn’t think the casinos slated to open later this year in Niagara Falls will drag the city down any farther. “Niagara Falls isn’t the nicest place now. The casino will finally give an economic reason to upgrade these places (hotels, motels and restaurants).”

And while the Niagara Falls casino will most certainly be popular, it will not be able to operate free of competition for long. Across the Rainbow Bridge at Niagara Falls, New York, preparations are being made to open a casino by 1997.

Windsor will also face competition from the American side. Voters in the state of Michigan will be asked to vote on whether to allow casinos at the next state elections. Several groups, including a local Indian band, have been pushing for a casino to be located in downtown Detroit. Canadian casinos must also compete with river boats from Illinois and Indiana.

The government has reached a watershed in its gambling policy, leaving it with few choices. It can either allow unfettered growth in casinos as more and more communities scramble to find any means necessary to generate jobs and tax revenues, or it can recognize there is a limit to gambling as a solution to economic woes.

As the source says, “The government is in a quandry: they like the revenue but hate the way it is raised.”

Update: Story featured in Schizophrenia: A Patient's Perspective by Abu Sayed Zahiduzzaman (Author House), 2013. 

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