Why do so many big and iconic American corporations come from the US South, a region traditionally considered a backwater? Dr. Bartow Elmore explains how Coca-Cola, WalMart, and FedEx used “country capitalism” to change the United States and the planet. Fascinating listening, and very illuminating analysis! You won’t shop the same way again! Episode 514.
Bart Elmore, Country Capitalism: How Corporations from the American South Remade Our Economy and the Planet
The rural roads that led to our planet-changing global economy ran through the American South. That region’s impact on the interconnected histories of business and ecological change is narrated here by acclaimed scholar Bart Elmore, who uses the histories of five southern firms—Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines, Walmart, FedEx, and Bank of America—to investigate the environmental impact of our have-it-now, fly-by-night, buy-on-credit economy. Drawing on exclusive interviews with company executives, corporate archives, and other records, Elmore explores the historical, economic, and ecological conditions that gave rise to these five trailblazing corporations. He then considers what each has become: an essential presence in the daily workings of the global economy and an unmistakable contributor to the reshaping of the world’s ecosystems. Even as businesses invest in sustainability initiatives and respond to new calls for corporate responsibility, Elmore shows the limits of their efforts to “green” their operations and offers insights on how governments and activists can push corporations to do better.
At the root, Elmore reveals a fundamental challenge: Our lives are built around businesses that connect far-flung rural places to urban centers and global destinations. This “country capitalism” that proved successful in the US South has made it possible to satisfy our demands at the click of a button, but each click comes with hidden environmental costs. This book is a must-read for anyone who hopes to create an ecologically sustainable future economy.